In a previous post I said that I’d probably go back to the Portland Chinese Garden to photograph orchids. What I didn’t realize is that my visit yesterday would give me hope that popular public attractions can develop and implement photo policies that make sense. I have real problems with the photo policy in place at the Portland Japanese Garden. Policies like “… does not allow portrait photography” or “… reserves the right to use any and all photographs…” are just silly. Anyone who visits the Japanese Garden will see people taking pictures of loved ones or friends. How will the Garden know, obtain, and use photos taken by visitors. My point is simple… policies can be appropriate, easy to undestand and implementable or enforceable.
I paid my entry fee for the Chinese Garden, shouldered my pack of camera gear, grabbed my tripod and headed for the gate. The volunteer at the gate asked if I had a permit for my tripod. I’m thinking, based on my experience with the Japanese Garden, that I’m going to be told that I can’t bring the tripod in or that there is a fee. I explained that I didn’t know I needed a permit and that I had not been informed that I needed one. She directed me back to the ticket sales person who then directed me to the business offices a block away. I really wanted to take my tripod in since I was planning to shoot macro shots and know that I can’t get sharp images at high magnification without a tripod. I took the short walk to the business offices and was greeted… get this… by a lady with a smile on her face and instant recognition of my wish to get a tripod permit. She gave me a form that has the Garden’s policies written on it, went over what I needed to fill in, took the form on completion and made me a copy. She wished me well and off I went. 5 minutes max. And now I have the Chinese Garden’s photo policies.
The policies are pretty straight forward. If the pictures are for personal use then you can feel free to take what you want. I had expected to see some words about things that just make common sense to me… don’t block public access to areas in the Garden, don’t create a safety hazard for others by leaving equipment laying around, don’t step in or on the flower beds or displays. Nothing like that appears. If you are shooting commercially they state that the Garden Director will assess a fee which, I guess, varies depending on your shooting needs. They say that they may take a royalty from any sales of images in the Garden and that they want the Garden referred to in a specific way. No silliness like “you can’t take a portrait picture in our Garden” or “if you take a picture in our Garden we own it”. Nope… just some real common sense. And it’s being enforced. And it was easy to comply. Hmmmm…. maybe the good folks at the Japanese Garden will take a cue from the other Garden.
I spent about 45 minutes photographing a small, out-of-the-way bed of orchids. I felt confident that anyone who asked would appreciate that I had my permit in my pocket. I watched and listened as people walked by and wondered about what I was doing. No problems anywhere. I like it.