Photography is popular at steampunk events. As a community we are very much aware that photographers find steampunks very photogenic, indeed, camera clubs often organise trips to steampunk events. Whilst the vast majority are respectful and considerate, occasional photographers fail to follow common courtesy when photographing steampunks.
In this post we are going to look at some guidelines to help steampunks who sometimes find photography a little intrusive, and offer some recommendations for dealing with photographers.
If you are a photographer coming to a Ministry of Steampunk event, then we hope you will read this post to get an appreciation of how to approach steampunks when wanting to take a photograph, and we offer a few simple guidelines to get the best out of any photo opportunities. And then, of course, there are a number of you attending our events who are both steampunks and photographers!
Photography in the Street
If you are on the streets at a steampunk event, photographers can take a photograph of you without consent. You have no legal right not to be photographed. A lot of paparazzi style photography is done in this way, using long lenses and often taking photos while the recipient is unaware to try and capture that candid moment.
If you spot a photographer taking candid shots of you on the street, then you can approach them and ask them politely to remove any images you are in – explaining that you don’t want to be photographed. Whether the photographer complies with your request will be up to the individual. We suggest keeping it polite rather than insisting that they delete your image.
The photographer doesn’t have to do it if you are on the public highway, but if you are civil then they may be more amenable to removing any images that you deem to be unsuitable.
Photographing children is a completely different matter and we urge you to look up relevant legislation if you are going to have kids with you. The NSPCC also have some good guidance on this.
On private property
If you are in Lincoln Castle grounds or other private property then it is not on the public highway, so different rules apply and you are well within your rights to ask for photos to be deleted. Photographers should ask prior to taking any photos of you or your party.
If you do not want your photo taken then a simple ‘no thank you’ should suffice. If they are insistent and continue to take photos, turn your back on them. Don’t give them an opportunity. You can mention the Protection From Harassment Act 1997. If you continue to feel harassed by a photographer, try to find an official from the venue or a Ministry of Steampunk steward. Photographers who are harassing members of the public (steampunks or otherwise) can be asked to leave the area.
We do know that for many steampunks being photographed in their awesome outfits is something they enjoy and they will happily pose for photos. So if you don’t mind your photo being taken, when a photographer approaches you, ask for their business card and also what they are planning on doing with the images afterwards. Remember, that if they are going to be selling the photo, then you are effectively an unpaid model. Once you’ve given your consent, they can pretty much do with it what they like. Always exchange details before any photos are taken.
Professional photographers and press photographers may ask you to sign a consent form and take some details from you – again this is entirely voluntary, and always read any forms before you sign.
Basic safety precautions.
Don’t be led away from your party alone. If the photographer wants to take photos with a more photogenic backdrop, take someone with you.
The session is over when you say it is. If you become uncomfortable at any time, just tell them that you need to get back to the festival. Remember to always be safe!
Would you like to receive copies of photographs taken of you?
Although steampunks are very frequently photographed, only a tiny minority of the photographs that are taken are shared with the steampunks in the photos. Some photographers ask for their subjects' contact details and some give out business cards but only a tiny number of photographers take the trouble to send copies to the people in their pictures.
If you are attending an event, are happy to be photographed, and would like a few pictures of yourself in your outfit, one of the best ways is simply to agree to be photographed so long as the person taking the photograph is happy to take a few pictures of you on your own camera or phone camera in return. That way you go home with the images in your pocket and don't need to scroll endlessly through online pictures to see if you can spot yourself. Obviously if you are going to take this approach you have to make a judgement as to whether the other person will run off with your camera or phone!
A guide for photographers
We understand you want to get that one perfect shot, but you won’t achieve that with reluctant models and a hostile community. It’s quite simple – be polite and respect a person’s wishes.
Photographers who find a clear way of sharing their photographs with the people in the photographs are by far the most popular and welcome in the steampunk community.
Many steampunks love being photographed – but many do not. Many like the attention, but again, an equal number find it annoying. Most steampunks dress the way they do for fun, because they enjoy it, and not to be photographed. Steampunk is very inclusive and there are members of our steampunk community who find social situations difficult and are not comfortable with too much attention.
As long as you ask politely, those who are inclined to let you photograph them will most likely do so, and those who refuse should not be offended.
Please remember when photographing steampunks, they are not paid models, you do not get to order them around just to get the right angle.
Do ask politely
Do explain what the images will be used for and offer contact details
Respect the individual’s wishes
Remember steampunks are not paid models
“No” means no
There are some fantastic photo opportunities offered by steampunk events, and if you are polite and respectful, that will continue to be the case. If you are paying to attend the event (for example by buying a Festival Wristband) that will allow you into the different venues and you will be supporting the event so it continues to be a spectacle worth photographing.
Lastly, it’s a steampunk festival – why not consider becoming part of the community yourself!