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.

Paul

Enthusiast, marketing strategist, writer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid

19 Comments

  1. You know, I was wondering about the legal implications earlier. The complex is private property so I imagine they have some discretion as to what people can do there. At the same time there are things like the right to freedom of expression which includes the right to artistic creativity (assuming my photography skills are artistic).

    Mostly I think the approach is just silly from a marketing perspective.

  2. I've had problems in other centres too! As soon as I bought a DSLR taking photos in shopping centres in JHB has been impossible for me… I get stopped all the time. It was never a problem when I had a simple P&S.
    I've never been given the offer of getting permission though… think I'll try that next time.

  3. I've had problems in other centres too! As soon as I bought a DSLR taking photos in shopping centres in JHB has been impossible for me… I get stopped all the time. It was never a problem when I had a simple P&S.
    I've never been given the offer of getting permission though… think I'll try that next time.

  4. Taking a DSLR anywhere in JHB seems to be an issue. The Wedge in Rivonia had a issue with me looking at a camera while meeting a friend at the coffee shop (He was showing off his new toy). The security guard said it was a security issue. I was obviously planning a cash-in-transit hesit .

    I have even had issues at the Wanderers cricket grounds they did not want me to use my 300mm lens and camera. They actually tried to remove my camera from me. My girlfreinds point and shoot which can zoom to 460mm was not an issue but mine was.

    It seems that you need to get permission everywhere these days. esp. with SLR type camera.

  5. Taking a DSLR anywhere in JHB seems to be an issue. The Wedge in Rivonia had a issue with me looking at a camera while meeting a friend at the coffee shop (He was showing off his new toy). The security guard said it was a security issue. I was obviously planning a cash-in-transit hesit .

    I have even had issues at the Wanderers cricket grounds they did not want me to use my 300mm lens and camera. They actually tried to remove my camera from me. My girlfreinds point and shoot which can zoom to 460mm was not an issue but mine was.

    It seems that you need to get permission everywhere these days. esp. with SLR type camera.

  6. Hi Jeanette and Tyron

    Looks like there is a common theme. I am somewhat unimpressed with the security argument. I wouldn’t walk around with an SLR if I was planning something underhand.

    Looks like point and shoots are the answer though.

  7. Hi Jeanette and Tyron

    Looks like there is a common theme. I am somewhat unimpressed with the security argument. I wouldn’t walk around with an SLR if I was planning something underhand.

    Looks like point and shoots are the answer though.

  8. Congrats on pursuing this. The problem is a worldwide one, and revolves around the issue of private space masquerading as public space.

    Melrose Arch has been particularly succesful in creating the illusion that it is a public space with high streets and piazzas and permeability and other good urban design things, but it is in fact a gated and very private community of the most insidious kind. In this case I think they could have refused you permission, but I am glad you requested your ‘permit’! I have been challenged for photographing on the streets of Rosebank by their so-called business management district self-appointed guardians of the peace! I pointed out that it is not illegal to film in truly public spaces, and the guard backed down (although he maintained that he was concerned for my safety whilst publicly using a camera). I have also been challenged for photographing a tram station in Dublin – from a public street, but they maintained their station was a private piece of property! I made the case that their private property was on public display and so long as I did not photograph their private asset from what they believe to be the private ground of their station (which I strongly dispute – I am sure they only have a leasehold use of public space for private income generation) they could pipe down.

    As long as public interests (like city councils) do not provide truly public spaces for the public, this gap will be filled by private enterprise creating pseudo publicness where they can effectively create and defend their own feifdoms.

    And btw, I agree that a cinema would have been nice in the new phase!

  9. Congrats on pursuing this. The problem is a worldwide one, and revolves around the issue of private space masquerading as public space.

    Melrose Arch has been particularly succesful in creating the illusion that it is a public space with high streets and piazzas and permeability and other good urban design things, but it is in fact a gated and very private community of the most insidious kind. In this case I think they could have refused you permission, but I am glad you requested your ‘permit’! I have been challenged for photographing on the streets of Rosebank by their so-called business management district self-appointed guardians of the peace! I pointed out that it is not illegal to film in truly public spaces, and the guard backed down (although he maintained that he was concerned for my safety whilst publicly using a camera). I have also been challenged for photographing a tram station in Dublin – from a public street, but they maintained their station was a private piece of property! I made the case that their private property was on public display and so long as I did not photograph their private asset from what they believe to be the private ground of their station (which I strongly dispute – I am sure they only have a leasehold use of public space for private income generation) they could pipe down.

    As long as public interests (like city councils) do not provide truly public spaces for the public, this gap will be filled by private enterprise creating pseudo publicness where they can effectively create and defend their own feifdoms.

    And btw, I agree that a cinema would have been nice in the new phase!

  10. My wife was telling me that there are apparently going to be cinemas in the phase being built at the moment together with more affordable eating spots. I can see Melrose Arch becoming our preferred social spot.

  11. My wife was telling me that there are apparently going to be cinemas in the phase being built at the moment together with more affordable eating spots. I can see Melrose Arch becoming our preferred social spot.

  12. […] to take even better photos with what I have. I do love taking photos, even if that gets me into a bit of trouble at times, and maybe doing my own version of Project 365, together with learning more of the […]

  13. […] to take even better photos with what I have. I do love taking photos, even if that gets me into a bit of trouble at times, and maybe doing my own version of Project 365, together with learning more of the […]

  14. I think it likely has something to do with location scouting for film and commercial locations, which apparently you must pay for the privelgde of doing. This in itself is a little odd as the only side effect is that it could generate revenue!

  15. I understand requiring some form of registration if the shoot is commercial but to ban people taking photos for personal use or tourists capturing memories to share with their friends and family is absurd.

What do you think?

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