Thursday, January 31, 2008

Scene This Week In...

“Excuse me sir. You are not allowed to take pictures in the mall.”

I was standing on the second level of the mall snapping pictures of what appeared to be a kids show for my Scene This Week In Columbia. The crowd was large, the strollers were double parked, and the kids seemed to having a blast. It was a perfect Columbia moment until the mall gendarme appeared.
My first reaction is that he must be kidding but he had that no nonsense mall security guard look about him. I simply said. “Well I already have, haven’t I?”

With that comment he gave me a look and then turned on his heel and left. I took more pictures.
How long has this no picture policy been in place?

It is a pretty stupid policy. I for one intend to ignore it. If I were GGP I’d be very careful about aggressively enforcing it too. It smacks of the same PR misstep as the poinsettia tree fiasco.

That same morning I had an appointment cancelled at the last moment so I used the opening in my otherwise hectic schedule to drop in for a cup of coffee at the Bean Hollow coffee shop on Main Street. As much as the Lakeside coffee shop in Columbia functions as the community center for Town Center, Bean Hollow does the same for Ellicott City. Interestingly, both coffee shops share the same DNA. They were both started by Mike Lentz who operated them as Riverside coffee shops before selling them off and moving to North Carolina.
Today, Bean Hollow is owned and operated by Gretchen Shuey.


David Wissing said...

That is interesting about the security . When I took pictures back in December of the Santastic display to put on my website, I had a security guard come up to me and ask me what I was taking pictures of. I told her what I was doing and what is was for and she decided it was okay and let me snap a few photos. But she sort of hovered around me for a few minutes until I was done and watched me as I headed back into Hecht's to leave.

My guess is there is a worry someone is trying to "case the mall" for a terrorist attack or something.

Anonymous said...

You didn't read the privacy policy that's clearly posted at every entrance? Oh wait, that only happens in cyberspace. Darn.

I was surprised the same issue hadn't arisen during the Poinsettia Tree events. Shopping centers and even individual stores do want to protect against transgressions of many sorts and against research by competitors, and in some circumstances even against being put at a disadvantage in litigation. Discouraging and/or prohibiting unauthorized photography for a private property owner is well within their rights.

But, with today's technology offering many of these tools, to property owners (to protect the grounds and common interior areas), to store owners (to thwart employee misdeeds and shoplifting), and to the consumers that frequent those spaces (still- and video- equipped cellphones being omnipresent), it's inevitable and should be expected that people and places will be filmed repeatedly on a daily basis. Even just driving near the Mall on public roads results in being filmed at taxpayer's expense.

While such constant photography/videography by entities you never know or see is troublesome, where control of photography becomes much more a concern is where such prohibitions start to be placed on the individual in public spaces. Silver Spring just last summer dealt with such an issue, where, for a time, a private company was telling people they couldn't take pictures on a PUBLIC street. It's one more reason to stay aware of any very fine print details when considering any upcoming public/private partnerships relating to Town Center.