when to photograph…

I saw a primary school class of kids in Princes St gardens on a drawing field trip. In particular i noticed the wee boy below drawing the gardens and the Scott Monument.

Not only was his drawing brilliant, but he seemed so into it, his enthusiasm was palpable. My first reaction (as ever) was to photograph and i was thinking that i would really like to send it to some of the kids i had been teaching in India. I know it is somewhat taboo to randomly photograph kids in this country, but i really wanted to document this boy drawing, so i started snapping away, being  careful not to show any of the kids’ faces…and sure enough, after a minute or two i was approached by a member of staff  (from the national gallery i think, who were running the workshop), telling me (very apologetically) that i was not allowed to photograph the kids etc. I told her i was not showing their faces, and offered to show her the shots, so she said that that was ok and off she went. i however felt a little like a social pariah. I understand why i was approached, but this would not have happened in Spain or Italy, and i don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing to be so prohibitively protective, or to go the other way and be naively/blissfully unaware of the implications of a stranger photographing your kids… but it did make me feel a little sad and frustrated that the simple documentation of such an innocent act could be viewed with suspicion.

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