Ridiculous Photography Bans Need to Stop

No photography!

“No photography!”, waved the silhouetted usher.

I was at the T’ang Quartet‘s 21st anniversary concert last Saturday at the School of the Arts (SOTA) concert hall, and while waiting for the concert to start, I spotted someone taking a photo of the empty stage and chairs using her smart phone. Like most people nowadays, she probably wanted to post it to her social media network announcing that she’s at the concert. Or maybe she found the stage design to be rather interesting and wanted a photo of it.

Not long after she raised her phone to compose a shot, an overzealous usher rushed forward and told her that no photography is allowed. My friend and I who were right behind her as amused as she is by the ban. It’s an empty stage for goodness sake! I understand if the venue management disallows photography during a performance, but this is before the start of the performance. And did I mention that there’s nothing on the stage except for the empty chairs?

During the intermission, I spotted the same usher at a corner, staring over the seats, keeping a watchful eye on patrons who dare raise a camera/phone. But I spotted someone taking selfies and another person using a real camera to shoot the stage. She didn’t seem to mind (or she somehow didn’t notice, I am not sure.) Still feeling incredulous over the photography ban, I decided to try my luck and raised my iPhone to take a picture of the empty stage. Aha! This time, another usher waved to me, gesturing that no photography is allowed (see above pic.)

This is really ridiculous. What’s the problem with shooting an empty stage? And it’s not even during the performance! Even if it’s during a performance, I never quite get why there’s a need to ban (non-flash) photography. Which is why I am pleasantly surprised when LAMC Productions and the Star Theatre allowed photography during the Piano Guys concert which I attended last week.

I discovered another ridiculous photography ban at a food court yesterday. The food court was under renovation, but their rules were still up on a signboard outside. This is what it says:-

“No photography are allowed”

“No photography are allowed”

Grammar issue aside, once again, what’s the big deal about shooting food in a food court? The only reason I can think of is that the management is afraid that you might find cockroaches, hygiene issues with your food, and the photo you posted might go viral and get them into trouble and possibly lose their license. I can’t think of any other reasons otherwise.

Another weird/ridiculous photography ban happened when I was attending a talk by National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita at the Capital Tower, Singapore. After the talk, I exited the building and spotted a sculpture of a man sitting on a metal bench. I walked towards it, raised my camera and started to compose. The security guard promptly stopped me, saying, “Excuse me, sir. No photography of the building.” I was catching up with my friends ahead of me, so I didn’t really tried to argue with him and walked on. Building? I was not even shooting the building. I was shooting a sculpture for crying out loud! Couldn’t he tell the difference?

The further irony is the talk I attended was organised by CapitaLand Ltd. which had earlier organised a photography competition of their buildings. Capital Tower is one of them. No photography allowed? Ridiculous.

It appears to be that these days, it’s a trend to ban photography for the sake of it. Such bans need to stop. Otherwise, in time to come, the only places we can use our cameras will be at home or in the studio. That’d be a sad day, wouldn’t it?


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2 Responses to Ridiculous Photography Bans Need to Stop

  1. Jonas says:

    Your comments resonate with my sentiments. I have been to several places where the ushers have banned photography eg in University Cultural Centre, but they let their own guys take. Selfish!! Also, there was one occasion in UCC where I had obtained permission from the performing troupe to take photos of them during performance, yet the ushers in UCC insisted that photography was not allowed and claimed that it was a ‘last minute decision’. What crap! There is also this stupid rule about ‘no flash’ because it would affect the performers or it is ‘rude’. Another load of crap! There are so many performances in shopping centres and open spaces which allowed photography with flash. Furthermore, when photographers shoot celebrities at red carpets events, they all use flash! Are they saying that the photographers are ‘rude’ to the celebrities?? Obviously all these unreasonable rules came from one or few weird individuals who have weird idiosyncratic opinions about photography! How I wish we could get rid of these unreasonable people! Public performances should be made free for all to shoot, and up to the shooter to decide with or without flash!

    • ckng says:

      I can totally understand why flash photography is frowned upon. In a concert environment, the surroundings are usually dim. Flash can thus be very irritating to the performers and audience alike. Using flash in performances like acrobatics, etc can also be dangerous for the performers as there’s a chance of temporarily blinding them, causing them to mis-step, etc. Of course, fashion shows are a different thing altogether, so it’s all down to what’s appropriate for what situation.

      I just hope the venue management would not be so uptight about photography. If people want to see a performance through a viewfinder or LCD, so be it. Even if they want to ban it, be reasonable.

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