Posted tagged ‘french’

“May I take a photograph please??” – Encounters of a Photographer with a store manager and a few dozen cops!

May 28, 2014

 

Photography not allowed

Photography not allowed

“May I get an interest free loan for Rs.10,00,000?” is what I suspected the store manager heard me uttering, judging by his facial contortion that presented incredulity and insult mixed with an expression that I’m sure was last seen in the faces of French aristocracy before 1789.

“What in the god’s green earth did you ask then?”, you may wonder. Before I tell what I asked, I advise reader discretion. Kids below 8 yrs, pregnant ladies, people with heart conditions are advised to stop reading and go back to indulge in activities that are soothing to the senses, like viewing my photographs here.

So here is what happened. It was a lovely evening with the sun slowly retiring for the day in the areas that fall 5 and a half hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time, behind the towering east gopuram of Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore. I couldn’t but resist exploring the multi-storey buildings for getting a better view of the sunset for the sole purpose of clicking pictures. After much analysis, I zeroed in on the top floor of a shop nearby the temple from where I could get a decent view of the entire temple complex with the setting sun behind. Being the “Rules Ramanujam” that I am, innocently stepped into the shop with a Camera in my hand to seek permission. Not less than 1/3rd of a second passed, I was surrounded by atleast 3 people throwing suspective glances. I’m sure the authoritative figure amongst them was wondering if he should call the cops. Better sense prevailed. But even then I saw no sign of his stiff facial expression easing out. He asked me ” What do you want?” in a tone that I’d rather preferred he called the cops. I gave him a quick background on my motive, presented my credentials and requested permission to shoot the temple from their premises. Being a supervisor with no prerogative to take independent deicisions apart from stopping random strangers entering the shop with a camera, he decided to check with his boss, the store manager. After multiple calls to multiple departments in multiple floors, the supervisor got hold of the manager and requested him to come down over.

I greeted the manager with a wide smile, shook hands and asked him “Can I take pictures of the temple from your premises?”.

What happened next is what is described in the first paragraph of this post.

After he comprehended that such a request could even come and after the initial pang of anger subsided, he regained his composure and said “No. No permission for such things will be given.”. Taken aback by the bluntness (idhu vera mokkai..not this), but happy that I didn’t get his palm and finger prints on my cheeks, I showed him my portfolio on temples and requested to re-consider. He proudly said, “We have never given permission for photography and we will not give in the future also.” in a manner that exceeded the stiff upper lip ‘begaviour’ of the British aristocracy. Persuasive pest that I am, I asked him “Is there any specific reason you don’t allow photography from your premises?”, for which he replied “There is no reason. We just won’t allow.”.

Considering the consideration that I’m a man of self respect, I turned around in slow motion and walked towards the exit while my mind played this music .

Angry Chennai thatha preventing photography

Angry Chennai thatha preventing photography

Doing a bit of Googling (I’m not one of those that use the fancy word “Research” as a substitute for Googling), I found that this is a common problem all over the world. Post 9/11 everyone is a bit jittery about being photographed. Especially the police.

Some Police Quotes I’ve personally heard:

You can’t take pictures after 10 PM

You can’t enter the beach after 10 PM

You can’t use a tripod

You can’t take pictures in the park

You can’t take pictures of people

You can’t take pictures of landmarks

You need permission to take pictures in public

What do you achieve by taking pictures?

But the following one takes the cake:

You can’t take pictures of the war memorial because if you publish this in the “computer”, the terrorists will note this down and bomb this

Idhukku mela naa enna solla!! But indeed there is a positive to this. If I roam around the city for one more year, with all the laws I hear from the Police, I may end up as a lawyer!

Disclaimer – This post is merely a sarcastic attempt in explaining the low tolerance levels in India for street photography. Although the events mentioned are as real the Chennai police’s lathi.

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