The picturesque Italian Amalfi coast town of Positano will enforce a €1000 ($1529) commercial photo permit fee for all shoots from this month onward.
Authorities at the popular wedding and tourist destination require permit submissions a month in advance for commercial photography, while wedding photographers must apply 10 days prior.
Michele De Lucia, Positano mayor, said the purpose was to control how the town’s image was used, rather than profit from working photographers.
‘Not everyone can be allowed to link their brand to Positano,’ De Lucia tolds UK newspaper The Times. ‘We are also doing it to control the territory, because improvised film sets were blocking the passage of pedestrians in the town’s key arteries.’
The permit requirement doesn’t apply to photojournalists and reporters or amateurs, and the mayor hasn’t indicated what consequences or punishment will be dished out to photographers who break the rules.
What does a pro look like?
Enforcing the new law will prove difficult, as commercial and non-commercial photographers aren’t easy to distinguish. Authorities will likely make a decision based on appearance.
For instance, a photographer with a model and assistant, carrying high-end lighting gear may appear to be undertaking commercial operations. But they could also be students borrowing university gear for an assessment.
A photographer working a few angles with a couple in wedding attire may be labelled a wedding pro, although it may be uncle Antonio testing out his new entry-level DSLR and shooting for free.
To the untrained eye professional and amateur landscape photographers look entirely the same, however one may sell images at a gallery as fine art prints while the other uploads snaps online.
And the social media influencer, paid big bucks by a clothing company to shoot a few selfies with the colourful village as a back drop, will fly coolly under the radar by using a smart phone.
The mayor says amateurs armed with tripods are welcome to capture the sights in Positano, but it’s possible they’ll be told to move along by authorities if their gear looks too flash.
Strict professional photo regulation in a distant Italian village may be of little relevance to Australia photographers, besides perhaps destination photographers, but similar restrictions exist around Australia. (Although, council permit fees are far more reasonable)
Prominent landscape photographer Ken Duncan is waging a war against the ‘faceless bureaucracy’ that drafts and enforces commercial photo permits.
He feels commercial photo restrictions through permits are becoming excessive, and if photographers don’t fight back, the matter will become worse.
Duncan’s view is that if a photographer is making no greater impact on an area than the general public, a permit should not be required. In the end, the commercial photos – whether advertising, landscape, or portrait shots – will publicise and promote a destination.