A couple years ago, we went to a weekend conference with multiple churches involved. We rented out the entire resort so the only guests were those of us there for the event. Our son, Elijah, had an epiphany that weekend and asked us to baptize him. Naturally, we were ecstatic! Word spread quickly throughout the camp that he would be baptized that afternoon in the swimming pool and many people came to watch. Now, for Christians this is a pretty big deal. And for our firstborn son to come to us and give us a flawless theological survey of baptism and an explanation for why he needed to be baptized…well…that was -like- one of the best days of my life. So there we were gathered around the pool for the momentous occasion and as I lifted my camera to my face to make a record for Elijah’s history, the lifeguard frantically approached “no, no you can’t do that!”
“You can’t take pictures”
“Are you serious? No one’s even swimming. We’ve rented out this whole place – there’s no one here but us.”
It goes without saying that I took the photos I wanted. My son was not going to be robbed of a record of an extremely important decision because a teenager didn’t understand the difference between pornography and family album snapshots.
And so we find ourselves in this frantic, hyper world where people can literally tremble if you pull out a camera. There are multiple stories to this effect online and this 2009 article from the Guardian paints a very accurate picture of the situation in the UK and the very sad position that parents find themselves in. The position of either relenting and sadly watching their little star in the school nativity, knowing that their memory will be the only surviving piece of the happy occasion or covertly taking the photos anyway, running the risk of getting kicked out.
When we went to Disney last year, I wanted to take photos of the family in the pool and so I cautiously approached the lifeguard to ask, “am I allowed to take photos?” She looked perplexed. “Yea of course,” was her reply. I realized that my few years of living in the UK has clouded my judgement of what is sensible and if that can happen to even me -with the strongest resolve of anyone I know- than certainly anyone can find themselves in the position of not thinking with their brains, but rather, with their nerves.
Last year at Jack’s Christmas Nativity, the headmistress began the event by announcing that we may take photos only of our children and that we were restricted from putting the images on Facebook. With all due respect, who does she think she is? I mean really…does she think she has the power of the police? Because even they don’t have the power to stop you from putting photos of your fully clothed children on Facebook. It drives me utterly insane, the way that people think with their nerves and not with their brains. And they don’t think ahead. What will the world look like in 50 years when we have full grown adults who don’t have surviving photo memories of their seaside holidays, their lead role in the school play, the moment they were baptized. How can we move forward as healthy adults if we don’t have a record of where we came from & no surviving memories?
I understand all the reasons people say we should protect children from being photographed at, say, the pool. I understand that people are afraid of pedophiles (who, by the way, are an extremely small minority). I understand that people have huge irrational fears about extremely small possibilities. More power to ‘em. I wouldn’t recommend taking your camera into a hot and steamy environment anyway. But should the general public suffer because of the few baddies in the world?
On the flip side of this outrageous heavy handed legislation of local governments and private sectors, we have those very same governments and private buildings (aka shopping centers) installing cameras in every public area, following you as you go into the shop, come out of the shop, walk down the street, pull out your wedgie, pick your nose. They photograph your car, your house, your body, your children. They don’t prosecute paparazzi who are taking unwanted photos in public places, yet we can be questioned and told to cease doing the same with our own children in those very same places. Google Earth has a picture of your house in their database at this very moment.
I can see the ways in which Big Brother protects citizens from crime and helps piece together events leading up to one. But what I can’t accept is the flagrant hypocrisy that says they can take our picture to protect our future, but we can’t photograph our own children to protect their past.Pin It