Permission needed to photograph Melrose Arch's new shopping section

Melrose Arch opened a new shopping section last week and my wife and I decided to go take a look. The centre with the slogan “the space to be yourself” has opened a pretty funky shopping space. I thought it would be visually appealing so I took my Canon point and shoot along with us. We parked underground and entered the centre through the Woolworths (it is apparently the flagship store and goes a few levels up.

I pretty much started taking photos as we exited the Woolworths. I was hoping for movies in there somewhere together with some take out spots. That would quickly make Melrose Arch our preferred entertainment spot but, alas, no movies in this phase. That being said it is a nice little centre. Not nearly as big as some of the centers nearby but there is a great selection of shops and the design really appeals to me. Here are a couple photos I took:

Highlights for me included the iStore (great find) and some of the open spaces. I love the glass ceiling in the main centre too.

Out tour became interesting when a noticeably nervous security guard sidled up to me and informed me that photography in the centre was not permitted. I pointed out I hadn’t seen any signs and, besides, I wanted to write about the place for everyone else’s benefit. He said there were no signs but he was there to tell me I couldn’t take photos.

I said that if the centre didn’t want me writing about the place then I wouldn’t and he was very quick to say they would like to be written about. By this point I was a little irked at being told I couldn’t do what I wanted (yeah, I know … !). He politely told me I had to get permission from centre management so, crusade launched, my wife and I trundled along to the management office and proclaimed that I was there to get permission. I told the one marketing person who the receptionist turned to that I have 1 000 people following me and I wanted to write about the place and share my experience (ok, not entirely true but it sounded good). I offered not to write about the new section and she quickly said I could write about the centre but needed to get permission for security and marketing purposes. They gave me a form to complete:

Armed with this piece of paper I returned to the new section of the complex and took a couple more photos. I was stopped by yet another skittish security guard who wasn’t too sure about my document (I took a copy) but let me carry on when he saw the branding on the document.

I suppose I can understand security concerns but surely photographing a public space in the mall can hardly be that serious a security risk? I mean, I could understand it if I was wandering around in closed off areas taking photographs but I just don’t see the threat I posed taking photos of these publicly accessible spaces.

As for the contention that permission is required to photograph the malls for marketing reasons … well, that is just silly. If everyone who whips out a camera needs permission to take photographs of the buildings or their companions in the complex there is much less incentive to take photos, share those photos with friends and family who may develop a desire to visit the place based on what they see in the photos. Heck, if I heard that a friend or family member was hassled for taking photos of a place, I’d be less inclined to visit there. Heck, I thought twice about whether to even publish my photos and write a post about the new section after I was hassled about taking photos. After all, I took my camera with me with the intention of taking photos to supplement a blog post about the place. No-one is paying me for the post. I am publishing this post because I want to tell you about my experiences this afternoon. Unfortunately a big part of that story is about how I wasn’t incentivised to share my experiences.

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