Timothy Armes' blog

Life as I experience it…


A bit of perspective please….

Last weekend my three-year-old daughter’s school put on a folk-dancing show; a local group had been teaching the kids a few dances over the last few months (not an easy task I’ll wager!).

Literally all the parents were enjoying taking photos of the event...

Naturally, I took along my camera to take lots of pictures of Annouk, and the other parents did the same. I wish now that I’d taken a picture of the parents taking pictures, but I didn’t. I did however find this crop from one of my images.

I’m lucky, I live in France, so when I asked if we were allowed to take photos the head master looked at me rather quizzically, as if to ask why on Earth I wouldn’t be allowed to take photos.

This is in stark contrast to my home country – Britain – where a national paranoia of photography has been gradually entrenched into the general populous. In theory schools can allow parents to take photos, but in practice we have a growing climate of fear that has led to no photo policies and dads being threatened with arrest.

Even though I don’t live there any more, and even though I’m thankfully free from this mentality, it still drives me crazy. How did an entire nation allow a few individuals to ruin this sort of enjoyment for everyone else? I love looking back at photos of me as I grew up; I hope that I can offer the same to my children too.

I do agree that with the ease of publication that the Internet provides common sense should be applied; clearly such photos should be for personal use only and recognisable images of other people’s children should not be published without permission. But that’s a far cry from the outright photography bans that are so often applied.

I’m curious to know which other countries are allowing themselves to suffer these sorts of restrictions, and which are still holding on firmly to their national self-respect.

Would a single official photographer have caught this gem?

8 Responses to “A bit of perspective please….”

  1. Some schools in Japan prohibit photography at certain events because history has shown some parents will be disruptive with the camera (e.g. standing up in front of everyone to film their kid’s Christmas-pageant solo), so they solve the problem by taking their toys away. It’s sad that it’s come to this, but I understand it.

    I’ve heard of at least one preschool that prohibits photography because they want the parents to not be separated from the event by a camera, and they want the parents to concentrate on all the kids, not just their own. This kind of thing makes me roll my eyes, but it’s still better than the situation you describe in England.

    • Hi Jeffrey,

      Those rules sounds really iffy. Are you sure that the school didn’t put them in place especially for you after other parents complained that they couldn’t see past your Bigma? ;)

  2. Hah, no, I know how to do it right. First of all, being sort of tall (192cm), I’m used to paying attention as to whether I’m blocking someone’s view, so that just goes double when using the camera. And my photos were fantastically better than the pros that provided coverage for the events, at least where our coverage overlapped (which wasn’t much, which is why the pros needed to come in and cover 89 other kids). I’d print hundreds of copies, bringing in packets of photos for the moms as gifts.

    Cameras were fine at most events, but but some smaller indoor events were cameras-not-allowed, and even then some dads would be jerks, even though pros were covering it with multiple SLRs and video cams.

    Sadly, I’ve not yet been to an event with the Bigma… we missed his sports day this year due to a family wedding.

    Great 2nd pic in your blog, though. Who’s the cute kid? :-)

    • That 2nd pic is my favourite from the afternoon, and I was obviously only taking photos of her. In other words, it’s only because I was able to concentrate on Annouk the whole time that I could capture that moment – there’s no way that a pro or two covering the whole event can capture key moments like this, so while they have their place, I don’t want them to take my liberty away…

  3. Andy Haynes says:

    All so true. Try shooting children’s sports events in the UK now! Even worse, and something I shall not be repeating, youth swimming events. That’s somewhere where the parents aren’t getting any photo because of the light and the need for fast shutter speeds combined. Try convincing the organisers of that though…

  4. Scott Martin says:

    Really good point Tim. I share this frustration in the US as well. Kudus to you for moving to a place that has things in a better balance. Cheers.

  5. bryan grant says:

    im not a father but what do people do with all these pics

    • They’re memories, Bryan.

      Kids grow up at an astonishing rate. Photographs preserve those special moments and allow us to back to them in the future and remember the feelings we had at the time. Also, I think it’s great to see photos of myself as I grew up, and I’d like to offer that to my kids too.

      I don’t think you have to be a father to understand the value of a photograph….


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