A few years ago I was doing a story about Stanley for Tasmanian life magazine. I decided to include some photos of the historic Highfield House, which is now in the hands of Parks and Wildlife and is open for inspection. It is a beautiful place and I always drop by when I am visiting Stanley.
I wandered around for while before dropping into the house to, out of courtesy, let the staff know what I was doing. The conversation unfolded something like this:
Me: I just thought that I would let you know that I am taking some photos of Highfield House to go with a story about Stanley that I am doing for Tasmanian life magazine.
Staff: Can I see your paper work?
Me: What paper work?
Staff: To take a photo here you have had to apply to Parks and Wildlife in Hobart and have written permission.
Staff: *repeated what she had said before*
Me: Well, can you give me permission?
Staff: No. I don’t have the authority for that. It has to come from head office.
Me: I don’t think that you understand. I am taking some photos for a story that will promote Stanley. I also want to promote Highfield House. Hopefully it will attract more visitors to Highfield and make people think well of Parks and Wildlife.
Staff: It doesn’t matter. You still have to have written permission.
Me: But there are people wandering around everywhere taking photos. *pointing to a group of Japanese tourists*
Staff: It doesn’t matter. You are a professional so you have to have permission.
Me: You only know that I am a professional because I had the courtesy to come and tell you. If I had just wandered around taking photos you would have been none the wiser and thought that I was just another tourist.
Staff: It doesn’t matter. I now know that you are taking photos for a magazine. You will just have to write to Hobart and tell them what you want to do. Get permission and come back another time.
Me: But I won’t be back.
Staff: *blank stare*
Me: This is crazy. I am trying to help Highfield House and provide you some good publicity.
Staff: *more blank staring*
Me: Well, I am just going to take the photos anyway. Do your worst. Get the police to come and evict me if you want. Here is my card (handed over my business card). I am going to take the photos. I already have most of what I want anyway. Please send my card to head office and tell them about our conversation. Also tell them that I will see them in court if they want.
The photos were duly published and I never heard a word from the head office of Parks and Wildlife. Bureaucracy is a wonderful thing. I have included a couple of the ‘illegal’ photos that I took.