In my window-shopping section, I sometimes come across stores that operate a no pictures policy. Even if I state that it’s for a blog about things I admire or (more usually) I’m thinking about buying something but don’t feel well enough to stay in the store* and try it on, or it’s for the house and I have to run it past the other half. If I am told I can’t photograph something, I usually respect this policy (though it’s seldom advertised in store) and blushingly leave.
It can vary from shop to shop, and even shops in the same chain will have different policies. Sometimes the shop assistants will be fine with it (I love those shops, I BUY from those shops and I tell my friends about those shops), and sometimes they tell me not to – nicely (and I respect that) and sometimes, just sometimes, they are very rude about it and make a scene (I tell my friends about these shops too).
Because of this, it does make me think…
Aw, come on. Really? Why?
And so (because I’m not this brave or verbally pugnacious in real life) this is my fantasy debate between a shop assistant and a camera-wielding customer, explaining both sides of the problem. It’s in black and white like a Fellini film; pretentious, moi?:
Hey, HEY – YOU! Yeah, you with the ghastly outfit. Stop taking photos of that pair of boots/ mannequin/ vintage-style urinal!
Who, me? Sorry, but there’s loads of us doing it. Might I enquire why?
It’s intellectual property theft, you might steal the display idea/ design.
If I wanted to steal an idea, I could also sketch the item/ display or just go home and recreate it from memory. You have huge display windows at the front of the store – it is not illegal for me to photograph (or commit to memory) your products from the street.
Anyway, it might be for a personal blog? It could be good publicity.
We have a catalogue.
If I upload an image from that to my blog, won’t you sue me under breach of copyright – even if I’m not making money off it?
Er, yes. Anyway, how do I know you’re for real? You could be from a rival store doing a price comparison.
I can get that online, there are whole websites dedicated to it, and if this shop were a small boutique, I could write the prices on a pad of paper.
You might be casing the joint; you could set off the security alarm and then film me putting in the code to stop the alarm so you know how to break into the store.
But if I wanted to do that, wouldn’t it just be easier to secrete a camera in a corner of the store and wait for you to lock up rather than film right in front of you and get asked not to. Not to mention drawing attention to my face. You would definitely recognise me in a line-up after this verbal exchange. Anyway, you don’t have a security alarm.
The point still stands
But then I could case this place by just looking around.
Some people photograph the items they want stolen, then a shop lifter will steal the items to order.
I’d hire a shop-lifter? Surely that defeats the point of getting something for free.
It is an invasion of privacy; you are assuming you can take photos of the shoppers.
Lady, I’m zoomed in so close there’s no way your face is getting this picture (so vain, honestly!) let alone anyone else’s. And you are assuming we are willing to be photographed by your security cameras – even in the changing rooms – yeah, I caught you having a sneaky peak. I’ll put away my camera when you do.
Give me the camera, I’m deleting the photos.
Er, you can’t do that.
I’ll get the security guard to throw you out!
You know you could have just asked me nicely in the beginning. I was actually considering buying this bed/dress/ pagan fertility statue. I just wanted to run it past my bedridden grandmother first as it’s actually for her.
We have a website.
She doesn’t have t’internet. She doesn’t even know what it is.
(Pleading) Haven’t you heard of showing some respect? Just respect our shop policy, you wouldn’t like it if I showed up at your house and started taking pictures of everything you own and then lighting up without asking?
Touche! I wouldn’t, but this is public property, my house is private property.
This shop is private property!
But you have invited the public in. I should therefore be OK to take photographs in here as long as it’s OK with the owners. I guess I should have asked permission.
Well, I guess I could have been nicer about it, you are a potential customer after all. (Turns to the security guard) Down Spike! Wait, aren’t you going to buy something?
At these prices and with this customer service, not bloody likely! I just really like what you’ve done with the store and wanted to capture the ambiance. But once you’ve put your store policy up on the wall and gone to charm school, we’ll both know the score and normal business can resume.
So, over to you. What do you think about photography in shops? Right? Wrong? The best way for all parties to get along?
*Note to shop assistants: you may be dealing with someone with a hidden illness.