• Tue
  • Jul 15, 2014
  • Updated: 12:50am

Photograph ban rules stupid

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 December, 1998, 12:00am

I am a Hong Kong-based photographer who has been shooting here for more than five years - but unfortunately it seems harder and harder these days to just be able to set up your tripod and knock off a few harmless skyline shots.


A while back I set up to take a portrait on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront promenade, with the Hong Kong skyline as a backdrop.


Just as I started to shoot a security guard turned up and prevented me from shooting saying it was not possible unless I got written permission from the Urban Council. 'But this is public land,' I argued; apparently not. The Urban Council owns the waterfront area and you need to get permission to shoot there if it is for professional purposes (that is, your camera is on a tripod and you have a portable light with you).


Last month, to test some new film types, I set up to shoot some flowers in Victoria Park. Just as I started to shoot a security guard turned up and prevented me from shooting saying it was not possible unless I got written permission from the Victoria Park management office. 'But this is public land', I argued - apparently not. If you want to shoot for commercial purposes there (that is, your camera is on a tripod) you have to get written permission from Victoria Park and management may well charge you a fee for the privilege.


On another day I set up my tripod and waited for 1.5 hours, until the light was right, to shoot the Hong Kong skyline from a walkway going over the road that leads into the Western Harbour Tunnel. Just as I started to shoot a security guard turned up and prevented me from shooting saying it was not possible unless I got written permission from the Western Harbour Tunnel Company. 'But this is a public walkway over a public road and I am a member of the general public,' I argued. However the security guard repeated that I would have to get written permission from the tunnel company.


This would be understandable if I was James Cameron turning up with Leonardo di Caprio and a cast of thousands looking to plant palm trees all over the approach to the Western Harbour Tunnel. But I am a lone photographer patiently shooting the skyline without endangering the general public, creating an obstruction or damaging the environment.


The Hong Kong Government is spending millions via the Hong Kong Tourist Association promoting our city overseas. Yet photographers like myself who are also trying to shoot this breathtaking skyline to promote Hong Kong overseas, are being prevented from doing so.


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