Photography policy

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This page is for discussing issues related to establishing photography and filming policies at World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) events. Having a policy can help participants feel at ease, and inform photographers and film-makers of limitations within which they can operate, making the event a positive experience for everyone.

See also examples of policies drafted by different cities. Feel free to adopt components of others' policies at your own event.

Contents

Issues

There are several issues to consider in drafting and adopting a policy for your local event.

Cultural differences

Different groups have different styles, and different cultures have different feelings of comfort around nudity. People have varying feelings about having their image being taken and distributed (especially if done in a way that's not in the spirit and context of the event).

Respect peoples' space

Think about how you can help people feel confident to participate and feel respected at the same time. People need to understand the positive message of WNBR and understand that part of respecting each others' bodies is giving each other enough personal space to be comfortable. This is especially important for those that have never been naked in front of strangers or in public before. They have their own issues they are dealing with and aggressive gawking or unwanted exposure adds an additional unwanted complication to their experience. They may not participate and may leave if they are not comfortable. So speak up!

The dress code is "as bare as you dare!"

It is difficult to accomodate all levels of discomfort that some people may have. That is why we have a flexible dress code! People can wear what they want and even wear disguises such as dark glasses and wigs if they wish!

WNBR is a globally promoted public protest

WNBR is a highly-publicized public event that aims to spread a positive message. WNBR benefits from photographic and video contributions to project a positive message about the ride and spread the word. Local WNBR events often have a documentary team taking pictures and video, but they are generally considerate people and will try to keep your best wishes in mind as much as possible. You can see many of their images on this website and on WNBR-generated media, which is sometimes shared with other non-profit progressive groups. It's not possible to stop people from taking photos and filming during the ride.

Some believe that attempting to curb photography is counter-productive if the event is designed for media attention, and public attention (eg: photographers) goes with the territory. They also believe that such a policy goes against the body-positive principles and confidence that WNBR promotes.

Use of public spaces

It is difficult, and perhaps unlawful to restrict access to publically-accessiable, community spaces. In these spaces it is difficult (and many would say unreasonable) to expect any guarantee that someone will not photograph or videotape you. WNBR can ask that people not shoot bikers before or after the ride, but they have no authority to enforce such a "policy" as long as it is a public event in a public place, such as a park, unless there is a specifically designated areas. There may not be an expectation of privacy in a public nude event and that anyone can photograph them as they please, short of harassing them. That does not include making them uncomfortable at being photographed or impeding their motion through public space. Because of these considerations some may opt to have their bodypainting parties in private venues or may disclose the pre-ride party only to a select number of riders or photographers.

For many people this is the first time they have been naked in a public, non-sexual, social-, gender- and age-diverse context. WNBR should do what it can to make people feel comfortable. The WNBR Seattle team has noted that some participants have not participated when they some saw photography going on. This is one reason local WNBR teams should try to balance reasonable restrictions to ensure people's confidence, while supporting a documentation effort.

Encouraging participation and avoiding unwanted behavior

  • First, have realistic expectations given the circumstances of your events and your resources.
  • Encourage people to educate others about and defend common courtesy.
  • Advertise the experience as a participatory event and create various roles so everybody can be involved, whatever their comfort around public nudity may be.
  • Passive, curious onlookers can be put to work, and once they realize they are valuable they might just join your team!
  • Consider having your bodypainting party in a private space to control what can go on in the area.
  • If it makes you uncomfortable, let the photographers know that they don't have permission to photograph you.
  • Some rides might want to consider having a rolling start. Some have said that it's fun to start off clothed and then, once riders are away from the assembly area and crowds, they can undress. This has been done in Vancouver and Chicago.
  • Everybody should take responsibility for making people feel comfortable and informing others (who might be unaware) of the photo/video policy.
  • Consider appointing a photography patrol to educate photographers about the policy. Most people will be respectful of policy once they are informed. Always assume good intent unless there is good reason to believe otherwise.
  • Consider prohibiting photography/video taking place in designated areas. Eg: in 2005, Seattle photographers and film-makers were prohibited from shooting closer than 15 feet from subjects. The problem is of course, that some have long lenses!
  • Tents, domes, shelters and screens: Consider prohibiting photography inside body-painting tent areas without permission from those being painted.
  • Consider issuing IDs to photographers and film-makers that you have a good relationship with, and that understand your policy.
  • Be prepared to directly confront predatory photographers if they have been warned or are actingly in blatantly disrespectful ways. Turn the tables on problem people by photographing them and posting their image on your website for the public to see. Often this will discourage them from shooting irresponsibly. There are also those who are at the event to use the images for other reasons, and you won't know without asking. If someone is being aggressive, acting suspiciously, or making you feel uncomfortable, please tell a WNBR team coordinator or someone who can ask them to back off and give people personal space.

Example policies

Examples of policies in different cities:

  • LondonNote: Some feel that London's policy, in place in June 2005, is a overly restrictive given the public nature of the event. Others argue that it helped participants feel comfortable to participate and thus was one factor in helping to build one of the largest and successful rides in WNBR history. Click here to read some of the debate over the policy [1].
  • Seattle
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