This week there has been several issues that have caused some set backs: the Queens Head has closed, which for a pub is a concern as I have not had chance to photograph in there as yet. The other a lot more worrying and that is the issue of photographing children!
This is worrying from two points the first in protecting the children of which I am sure no one wants to put a child at risk and the second is how to continue the project and show history of a village that seems to be void of children which is my current headache.
This has led me to wonder what the project would look like void of a community of people’s involvement
I could of course photograph buildings in the village, but if we take the Queens Head its been there since 1847 and still is with very little visual change to its architecture it’s not the sort of thing that change rapidly or moves and the social aspect is damned important to show. It’s the community, traditions and relationships that make the village, not the geography or the buildings, but these have been built and shaped by the community so are still important.
All of this has come about after the Picnic in the Park event (2011) and noticed a lot of glaring hostility as I walked around with my camera, as well as a lot fewer people making pictures or recording video of the crowning of the Carnival Queen this year and this was before I had made any photographs. I decided to ask someone who works locally with the children who informed me that an announcement at the LESA fun run earlier (that I wasn’t at) parents were told to only photograph their own children.
The problem with Child Protection as far as I see it is that each organisation that works with children draws up its own guidelines and other groups guides can differ widely, so a school may have a policy of parents only making photos of their own kids another will ban cameras totally. My children have left the local school a long-time ago so I don’t get updated with such guidelines either. Yet even in this smallish village there can be a few groups working with children and all may have differing policies or guidelines. The parents of course start to get somewhat paranoid as they take bits from one group and other bits from another and fabricate it to an unworkable solution imposed on to any one with a camera. We then have a policy (albeit imagined by the parents) that photographers are all guilty and a threat to their children, if this model was used about a motorist who had killed a child crossing a road, the fear would be that any motorist is trying to kill their children and no one would be driving cars.
Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t
So this year, regrettably I won’t be making any photos of the carnival week and may be next year also, as I try to keep the carnival week free in my diary I can’t afford to sit here with nothing on! I could of course carry on, as there is no law against photographing in public (including children), but the question then remains as to what happens with the pictures and have I put a child at risk if they are published on-line anywhere? It does feel very much like photographers suffer at the hands of a sick minded individual and they are the ones I try and focus my frustrations on. There is the red tape route of course with parental permission, but that is unlikely to happen any time this week and also changes the nature of documenting as there would be a focus on those who have given permission; against those that have not, even though the ones refused may not be at risk, and that fly on the wall view is lost.
Maybe I’ll get to the edges of the village, re-plan and see what I can come up with, but at the moment its looking bleak as even walking around with a camera you feel the hostility of suspicion