I’ve been on a tear of late about photos taken at literary events. I don’t like seeing myself in photos by most people. I’ve also seen awful photos of others, especially audience members, which often make people look bad.
Documentation of readings is sometimes used to help show a large attendance, to show how great the reading was, etc. These are all valid. So how do we document a reading without infringing on privacy?
Could organizers ask permission before posting photos? Could they include a statement at the beginning of a reading asking photogs in the audience to ask permission before posting? It’s not the law in Ontario but I think it would help make people feel more at ease if they were asked.
Privacy is something that needs to be thought about and treated more sensitively, in my opinion.
I’m avoiding most readings these days, in part because I don’t want to find an awful photo of myself later in my feed. I have at least one friend who won’t attend readings for this reason.
Photos of authors are different. If I’m on stage doing a feature, I expect to have my photo taken and used to promote the event. It’s possible, however, that organizers could offer authors a choice to not have their photo included or to have a photo of the work they are promoting shown instead. Photos of the young and beautiful are used as commodification, to show how sexy a reading is, how cool. That’s exploitation, isn’t it?
Update (August 20)
I want to make sure that it's clear that my main objection is photographs of members of the audience at public events and posting these photos on social media without their consent.