Thursday, July 19

The Road to Kafka’s Pier

A while back I thought I’d “do the right thing” about photographing on private property – in this case a pier. As I’d spent many hours on this pier, it struck me that they may have a policy about usage of photos in publications.

I’ve seen numerous published photos taken on Brighton Pier*, for example, so presumably there’s no problem there. On the other hand, as you enter Southsea Pier near Portsmouth, there’s a badly written notice warning you about commercial use of pictures taken on the pier.

Here’s (roughly) happened in the beach front office, staffed by about six people. The full Kafka-esque dialogue was probably four times as long...

M: Hello. I’m doing a project on seaside towns and I was wondering, in the unlikely event that the photos ever get published in a magazine or book, if there’s any problem with using pictures taken on the pier, as it’s private property.

T: When are you going to be doing the photography?

M: Well, it’s nothing that formal really. I’ve spent some time on the pier over the last few months taking photos. I just wondered if there are any restrictions about using photos in magazines and stuff like that.

T: Because if you’re going to be doing it now, we can ring across to the pier and tell them that you’re coming, and get permission.

M: Erm. Well, I just have this small camera. Permission? There’s dozens of people taking pictures on the pier. I don’t need permission do I? I just want to know if I can use any photographs I take in publications as the pier is private property.

[various conferring about who to phone, long phone conversation]

T: OK, don’t take pictures of people without their permission, especially children. Be very careful about that.

M: [sidestepping] Well I do a lot of photography and I don’t intend to break any laws, but I’m trying to find out if there are any laws that are specific to the pier, as it’s private property.

[various conferring about who to phone, long phone conversation]

T: OK, we give you permission. Go and do it! Do you want us to phone the pier?

M: Erm, is there any problem with me using photos in publications?

T: [very uncertain voice] No.

So really, I’m none the wiser...

*Formerly Palace Pier – presumably renamed just in case you forget what city you’re in.


Mudflapgypsy said...

I have been forcibly evicted from Belfast's first big shopping mall not long after it opened, for taking photos. Long time ago now.
People just have no idea about legislation. I mean they could have thrown you off the pier the first time they saw you with a camera and been well withing their rights, it being private property.

Paul Russell said...

Yes, shopping malls usually don't seem to like photography. And on private property they could ban you for wearing yellow socks if they felt like it.

Of course, piers are a place where everyone takes pictures, but I never really found out what the pier's policy was about publication.

As no-one seemed to know after several phone calls and discussion, I guess they didn't really have one.

Anyway, I suppose the chance of anyone recognising a picture taken on this pier in a book or publication and taking offence/objecting is almost zero!