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 Approached by Guards at the malls or parks?

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lucasxander

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PostSubject: Approached by Guards at the malls or parks?   Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:16 pm

mga sir share ko lang got this from another forum, it was published daw in DPP some time back.

part 1

When told of hobby photographers’ exasperating encounters with mall security personnel, Katrina Lalisan, the marketing supervisor of Powerplant Mall, accurately put her finger on the problem: “Maybe what isn’t always translated when guards come to people with cameras is the reason why we’re doing that. It’s something that could be improved upon by most retail establishments on how to explain it to people.”

Millie F. Dizon, VP for Marketing Communications Group of SM Shoemart observes, “I think sometimes people overreact when they see a guard approach because maybe the guard’s PR is not the same as a saleslady. But really it’s just an inquiry, nothing more than that.”

To set the record straight, DPP sets out to explore what is really behind these enquiries.

The Makati Commercial Center

The Makati Commercial Center has long been a favorite with street photographers but traditionally, it has also had an image problem as an inhospitable place for hobbyists. Rhobi-Zen C. Ignacio, of the Ayala Malls Group, sought to dispel this image by firmly saying that “We recognize and value art especially because Don Jaime Zobel, our patron, is a photographer himself; so for street photography, if it’s really for your documentaryy purposes, we value that. It’s just that we also want to be cautious about taking pictures of the entire vicinity for purposes other than that.”

For the Ayala Malls Group, the bigger picture is not how strict they are but that there is the underlying message that “we want to promote mutual respect for each other’s privacy and safety,” adds Ignacio.

They are concerned that photographers may go to lengths to get photographs in unauthorized areas and end up endangering themselves and others. Rhobi’s colleague, Senior Division Manager, CJ Jesena, voices Ayala’s concern, “It’s also for your safety. When a guard knows that somebody is taking pictures, then they’re alert and they can look out for you that you don’t fall anywhere or so that nobody will harass you.”


On the issue of privacy, he affirms a common concern. “Some shoppers value their privacy and security and will become concerned or will feel violated because they might think they are being marked. They go to Greenbelt 5 or to Serendra because they can expect a certain kind of privacy. They know they’re safe with us.” When it comes to VIPs, he posits a scenario. “What if you take pictures of them and they didn’t like it and they’ll beat you up so we’ll end up coming to the rescue of the photographer because you are infringing on the celebrity’s privacy?”

The third member of the group, Ma. Theresa (Thez) P. Garcia of Customer and Merchant Care, adds that they also can’t help but be security-conscious because of incidents in the past like the Oakwood mutiny and the Glorietta bomb blast. Copyright infringement and image-protection are their other major concerns. “We had an incident before where our Tower One building was used in an ad without our permission,” she narrates and adds, “we have seen competitive merchants take pictures of one another that’s why even us, lessors, we respect their privacy because of stiff competition.” As for the latter concern, she remarks, “We also value the image of the center because there were instances in the past wherein the pictures were used in a bad light so we’re trying to prevent that.”

For Jesena and Garcia, the solution is very simple. “You just have to write us a letter to apply for a permit, which we can do in several hours. You don’t have to go through a stringent process. You may email us and we can track it down through our system, or you can even just text us after the initial letter.”

Random photography may be covered by an omnibus permit or the presence of an ID; but for extensive photography for special and thematic events, including amateur photography that may require shooting in different locations or time-motion photography, a special permit is necessary. Off-limit areas are construction sites, service and delivery areas, the back of the house and off-limit hallways except where they are covered by special permits.

Ignacio encourages hobbyists to secure a permit because it may work to their advantage. “We may even let a guard accompany you to off-limit areas or you may get unexpected add-ons that we can offer,” she says with a smile.

Jesena discloses that getting permits extend even to themselves, “Thez runs our official merchandising and Christmas awards and we have to take pictures of our merchants’ window displays. For that, I also have to ask permission.” Moreover, he says that Ayala Land has an active camera club who also gets permits if need be.

The friendly Ayala group is appreciative of feedback. Garcia conveys that “the moment you tell us something, we call our security’s attention to reinforce what are allowed and what are not allowed.” Agreeing that this opportunity was a cue for them, she responds, “That’s why your comments, suggestions and feedback are very important to us because we would also have a way of knowing what are the areas of problem that we can solve right away and what are the rules we can review or update to see how it can be mutually beneficial to both of us.”

Bonifacio High Street and Serendra

Jesena explains that while the upscale and tony Bonifacio High Street and Serendra developments are under them, they are run by the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC) and thus require separate permits. “However,” he says, “If you want to do something there, just email us and we’ll endorse it to Mina Domingo, the person in charge. She’ll work it through the system.”

Regarding the fees charged by Bonifacio High Street, Jesena reveals that FBDC started to charge a fee for the upkeep of their special type of grass when there had been a rush of events like pre-nuptials and commercials in the area.



Makati Central Business District (MCBD)

The Makati Commercial Estate Association, Inc. (MACEA) covers what is collectively known as the Makati Central Business District (Makati CBD).


Mr. Jaime R. Matias, C.E., its General Manager, clarifies MACEA’s jurisdiction: “Macea is an association of property owners very similar to Forbes Park and other private developments. We pay for the real property tax of the streets, not the government. Ayala is the owner and developer of the property, the roads and its common areas and they are also one of our members. They lease the areas to us for management but it is the property owners, through MACEA, who are the ones paying for the property tax of the common areas like the roadways and the parks.”

Contrary to some perceptions he says that they are not objecting to picture-taking within their area. “We just want to know what is your purpose of taking the picture. We just want to restrict the photography because there are some unscrupulous photographers who want to take pictures of the area or of a building for commercial purposes,” he reasons. Building owners are particularly sensitive to photographers who photograph their facades, which they may use for ads.

In order to maintain their areas, he says that permits are necessary. To ease procedures, he suggests that photographers’ organizations give them a list of their members, their identifying logos, and a request letter proposing an omnibus permit to cover casual street photography for a certain period. Hobbyists can then present their IDs or a copy of the permit when security guards do spot checks. He is also open to other proposals.

Ayala Avenue, says Matias, is a special case—while the avenue itself is under MACEA, the buildings lining it fall under the business group of Ayala so while you may take wide-angle shots of the road and buildings, you run the risk of attracting a guard if you focus on particular buildings for any length of time. Building administrators are in charge of giving you permits to shoot its façade and within their premises.

Makati City

All areas not covered by private development come under the jurisdiction of the Makati city government. Marjorie de Veyra, City Administrator, considers photography as an “art,” and has no problem with street photography, revealing that even those studying architecture and engineering take undhindered pictures on the streets of Makati.

She discloses that “there have been many photographers, even from abroad, who want to see Makati from our helipad so they ask permission and no problem,” adding that, “In fact, I have enrolled some staff in photography classes because it’s fun.”
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PostSubject: Re: Approached by Guards at the malls or parks?   Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:17 pm

part 2

Makati Park

Although Makati Park in front of the University of Makati is a public park and therefore open to everyone, its administrator for six years running, Rolando S. Medina, says that they cannot just allow anyone to come in and take pictures because of the business activities within the park.

Home to four venues of varying capacities, it plays hosts to events like weddings, debuts, anniversaries and concerts in three predetermined periods with only an hour of rest in between (9am-1pm, 2-6pm, 7-11pm). Therefore, Matias says that a permit is essential because unrestricted movements may disturb their clients.

“Even just a cellphone call or text will do so I can call the OIC so a guard will accompany you. We are not forbidding the taking of pictures. Our only request is do let us know because if something happens, it’s my responsibility,” he concludes.

Powerplant Mall

The Powerplant Mall in Rockwell, Makati, may be unique in that it has a Marketing Supervisor who is also an avowed hobby photographer, which gives her the advantage of seeing the problem from both perspectives. “As a hobbyist,” Kat Lalisan says, “I would appreciate any sort of guidelines set out but given that I can see both sides of the picture now, that’s why we’re here to explain it because we want them to understand our perspective that we don’t want to come across as snobbish or as trying to cut down your creativity. Definitely it’s not about stopping people from taking personal memories. Given that we can’t control all the situations in which all these photographs are taken, there are times when we choose to step in and monitor where these phtographs are going.”

She explains the mall’s philosophy: “As is the standard with all malls, we do like to keep track of the photography that takes place around the mall. The general rule for the guards is to watch out for photographers because we would like to keep tabs about where the photography goes and for what purpose it’s going to be used. Like when we have our Christmas décor up, of course it’s put up for the customers and it’s not necessarily a problem if people take pictures of that because we’re proud of what we do for the mall. It’s more like we want to know if this will just go to your personal album or will this go to a publication that we don’t know about.”

Another purpose for keeping tabs is to protect the mall’s image. Lalisan says that shoppers may be turned off when they see a camera because they come to the mall for the comfort of some shopping. As a high-end mall, they’re also concerned for the VIPs who want to maintain their privacy. “We’re particular about things like that that’s why guards try to keep an out for photographers,” she adds.

They also want to extend that protective mantle to their merchants and their brand names. “I think it’s accepted by photographers that you can’t take pictures of the merchandise including the shop window displays because the principals here and abroad are very particular about their designs. We try to respect that.”

For these reasons, Lalisan says that they want to employ a tracking system by requiring interested parties to submit proposal letters for permits to shoot extensively in the mall.


After a verbal or email approval of your request, you need to sign a form, which for now, need your personal appearance; but she said they may be open to the possibility of uploading the form on the website.

She recounts one such request from an engaged couple who wanted to take pictures around the mall because it was their favorite hang-out: “We were very happy to accommodate that kind of request. It was very touching for us to know that this was their hangout. If they just went around without a permit, then that would definitely have alerted our guards who would wonder who are these people going around taking so many pictures?”

While they welcome any free publicity from blogs that have featured them favorably, Lalisan says that they are also cautious because it can also be the reverse. Thus, from a marketing perspective, she says it’s very hard to draw the line, so they would rather err on the side of caution. She is happy to note that so far, people have been quite accommodating to the enquiries of their security guards. “If they’re asked to stop, they understand. I guess the only thing that needs clarification is when they go, ‘oh really, why?’ That’s all.”
Mall of Asia

The Mall of Asia in Pasay City has had a spotty reputation as far as street photographers go, in part, due to its vastness. Around 400 sqm. huge, the third largest mall in the world has many attractions inside and outside the mall. While there have been instances where the security guards left photographers alone, there have also been instances where a guard exhibited some concern about photographers taking photographs of the sunset that can be viewed from the back of the mall and the esplanade area.

Queried about this, Annie S. Garcia, President of SM Supermalls explained their guiding principle. “We are a family mall and we do want your family to be with you and if photography is part of family activity we respect that. However, if anything tends to be business, we tend to inquire about it. The expectation of the guard is to secure the property and if the person is in the property, the guard may have a thought to inquire what it’s about.” She maintains, “We don’t want anybody to be offended or to be hassled. We want the experience of coming to our mall to be pleasant and if they did see a nice shot and we didn’t see you therefore we won’t able to call your attention; but generally, if the guard sees you and the guards approach, we hope you will understand because the guards are trained to approach a customer and ask. We don’t assume that it’s negative. We just want to know. We have to protect our tenants.”

To illustrate her last point, Garcia tells the story of a group of people with cameras who were taking pictures of the food and the menu board of a stall in their food court. “The owner, who was our tenant, came storming out and asked, ‘Why are you doing this, you’re taking photos of my product, for what? Why don’t you ask me permission?’ The owner requested them to delete the photographs right in front of him. In the end, these people put up the same store and fortunately they didn’t prosper.”

Incidents like this naturally only heighten the security consciousness of mall managements who try to control the situation through their security personnel. For SM Shoemart, Garcia says that it’s not just about their malls—“It’s also about the businesses that we have attracted to the mall, the business community in general. We also want our tenants to be able to conduct their business nicely and not be harassed by people who are perhaps doing things not good for their business.”

Simply asking the guard permission will not do because he won’t be in a position to say yes or no; the correct procedure would be to go to the mall manager or assistant mall manager, Garcia points out. However, she explains that their internal protocol means the process goes through different channels involving more than one person, which may take awhile.

Requesting for a permit also means personally meeting with the approving authority for the purpose to be established. “You really need to talk to the manager because he has to explain to all the people down the channel and he needs to know the entire story because if not he may give the info in bits and pieces,” Garcia explains. But even that may be easier compared to getting the required signatures of the respective departments concerned, for which specific times have been alloted. “We don’t want to make life difficult but we do have our rules for doing certain things,” she remarks and then offers a conciliatory approach, “Perhaps through time, if we get to know the person better, I’m sure we can establish something.”

Establishing long-term cordial relations with mall management is one reward for those seeking permits. Another come-on is being assigned a mall personnel to accompany you if you are part of a big group like photo seminars or eyeball events.

Both Garcia and Dizon are quick to assert that even MoA personnel are subject to their own protocols. “Even our own people have to go to the mall administration if they wish to take photos.” Furthermore, any infraction by their employees is met with the same disapproval. “We had an incident where our own people were taking pictures among themselves and posted them in youtube and so we had a little chat with them because we want to know when the SM name is being used. So we also try to manage ourselves internally using our own guidelines,” she divulges.
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PostSubject: Re: Approached by Guards at the malls or parks?   Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:19 pm

part 3

Manila City

Manila is another favorite stomping ground for street photographers for its old world charm and history, which is celebrated by street historian, Carlos Celdran, in his famed walkabouts in the city. However, it is broken up into several enclaves run by their own administrative officers. Intramuros is under the Intramuros Administration; Luneta and Paco Park are under the National Park Development Committee of the Department of Tourism; the Cultural Center of the Philippines also has its own administration; while the North and South Harbors are run by private companies. All other areas like the Baywalk, the Malate district, Chinatown, and Divisoria come under the city’s jurisdiction.

Jesus Mari P. Marzan, City Administrator of Manila, sees no problem with street photography. “We really don’t have any policy about photography right now because it’s free. It’s a public place so you can shoot for as long as there are no elaborate setups or lights. If you’re going to our parks and playgrounds, it’s a public place, so you’re free to shoot. Of course, we don’t want any nudity,” he declares.

In addition, he remarks, “That’s why we’re fixing even the playgrounds because it’s for public consumption. It’s the same thing as taking a picture of the sunset on Manila Bay—if you love it, you take it. We picture our parks as a family place so the only thing we we don’t want is any vulgarity.”

“Actually we’re promoting this as a place for tourists to go to,” he avers.

Rizal and Paco Parks, Luneta

The rumors are not true—Carlito Fajardo, Executive Director of the National Park Development Committee, administrator of the Rizal and Paco Parks and the Luneta area wants to shout to the world that amateur photography in these places requires no permits.

Because they want to promote the park, it simply makes no reason, he states, for them to ban photography—in fact, he considers the activity as a free promotion for the tourist spots. Upon knowing that there have been park guards who had been preventing even tourists from taking photos, he expressed his indignation. “I was mad; I told my security personnel you’re out of your minds.” He pronounced that he has since instructed the park security to orient the guards on proper behavior towards photography in the areas.

Finally, he made it clear that they charge fees for commercial shoots only.

Intramuros

Another tourist spot that has acquired its share of misconceptions is the Old Walled City of Intramuros in Manila. Still warming to her seat is its administrator, Ms. Anna Marie L. Harper, who was appointed to her position only last February. Although she has promised to dialogue with the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation, Inc., which conducts its popular photography lessons in Fort Santiago, her very busy schedule has prevented her from formally meeting with the group. However, her office has released some guidelines for street photography within Intramuros.

“Visitors are allowed to shoot photographs as souvenirs. Souvenir photographs may be taken at the leisure of the photographers, whether, local or foreign tourists or hobbyists, without the need of getting permits from IA or paying fees to IA,” IA states categorically.

“However, not all photographs taken in Intramuros are intended for souvenir shots. Some activities involving photography serve commercial purposes. This includes activities like pictorials for advertisement, pictorials intended for commercial publication and/or sale & similar organized photo sessions for commercial gain.

“These are the type of activities that the Intramuros Administration (IA) regulates through the issuance of permits. Permits are granted after screening/evaluating a particular activity for its purpose, extent of set-up, schedule, technical requirements and other considerations. Corresponding fees are also assessed and paid by the photographer(s) prior to the issuance of the permit. There are instances though when activities are allowed free-of-charge because of their promotional value to Intramuros.”

Regarding enquiries by their security personnel, the IA states that “Even with the regulation of commercial photography, there are still isolated instances when pictures are published or used for commercial purposes without the required permit from IA. This is the reason why IA security guards need to verify the intention of a photographer— whether the photographer or the activity itself show signs that pictures being taken are not intended as souvenirs. Among the signs are: the use of sophisticated types of camera and equipment, the use of props or costumes, the necessity to stop foot traffic while the photographer is shooting, etc.

“We find that most photographers appreciate the reason behind the regulation of commercial activities in Intramuros. Most photographers are even willing to submit to screening, scheduling and paying of fees.

“As to the manner of implementing our policy, we have consistently reminded our security guards to be courteous in verifying the intention of photographers. We would not want to give the wrong impression that we are prohibiting people from taking photographs in Intramuros.”

Araneta Center

Privately owned, developed and operated by the Araneta group, the Araneta Center has spruced up and upgraded its facilities, adding a new upscale mall in the process, the Gateway, which has attracted new clients as well as the Center’s old customers.

Belle Baldoza, of the marketing group of Araneta Center, indicates that as a private property, the Center’s main concern is security; therefore, all unauthorized shoots, whether with a DSLR or by a point-and-shoot camera, requires a permit from their office. She backtracks a bit and points out, “However, if they just state that they are shooting for personal or souvenir purposes, they are usually allowed.”

For those who want to take many photos around the Center she instructs that “they may have to secure a permit from Marketing assuring us that they will not be using the shots for commercial purposes. We have a form called an FEO (Function Event Order) that our Marketing Officer accomplishes outlining the details of the shoot, purpose, and equipment used. This is routed to our security personnel who will note the said shoot.”

For invited guests to events within the Center, no permit to shoot is necessary.


I hope this article helps us PG's Pro's and Hobbyists alike.

cheers!
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PostSubject: Re: Approached by Guards at the malls or parks?   Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:43 pm

whew! long discourse Wink but well worth the time.. thank you for sharing the information
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PostSubject: Re: Approached by Guards at the malls or parks?   Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:12 am

A very nice post lucasxander, Totally agreed tama lang naman tska walang mawawala pag ng paalam tayo at kumuha ng permit mas safer and less compromise.

regarding sa mga PS places natin I'll try to ask permission from in charge, hope the weather is fine para tuloy tayo this weekend.

Good day to all!
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PostSubject: Re: Approached by Guards at the malls or parks?   Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:06 pm

long but interesting article...
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