As if we don’t have enough to contend with, users of Studland Beach are now plagued by drones flying overhead (Daily Mail article, 27 July 2015).
A Studland United Naturist spokesperson told the Daily Mail journalist that several beach users heard the drone flying over the naturist area and they were concerned about this new invasion of privacy. It was feared that a camera had been attached to the drone and there were concerns about where any material taken would end up.
These small, unmanned remotely piloted vehicles (for heaven’s sake do call them models) can be bought and operated by anyone. The days when the only thing people had to worry about was when someone waved a box brownie in the wrong direction have long gone. Back then the worst thing that could happen was ending up as a mystery in the background of a picture of Auntie Joan.
There are rules about drone operations, enforced by the Civil Aviation Authority and the National Trust, who own Studland, have a strict policy that photography requires their prior permission. It strikes me however that the drone has circumvented National Trust’s policy and there is little the authorities can do to prevent it. Any action they may take will be long after the damage had been done.
But have we not been here before, when cameras first appeared on our mobiles? Naturist venues around the world banned any form of photography. So to prevent a few idiotic perverts they have punished everyone.
Am I being over dramatic there? I don’t think so. Let me explain why.
It is not difficult to find pictures of naturists on the web, if not on dedicated websites like naturistbeach.com, on social media and often posted themselves. This makes nonsense of the ban at clubs and other naturist venues. Besides, if anyone really sat down and thought about it, there are so many pictures on the Internet what are the chances that yours will be found?
Now we have this new ‘threat’, the drone. To be fair, many of them have either a camera attached or it is already built in so the potential for illicit photographs is there. But isn’t Studland – like any other open space – a public place. Nowhere in the UK is completely remote, so aren’t the chances of being seen comparatively high? So I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. The fear they have is irrational. Yes, a picture of you might end up on the Internet. So what if you are.
If you think your bosses are trawling the Internet every night looking for ‘naughty’ pictures of you then you’re sadly mistaken. And what if you are found. It might be because they are naturists too. On the other hand, if it is a porn site your worried about then perhaps you should ask them why were they accessing such a site in the first place? Then there is the “Right to be Forgotten” under EU Law, if you discover it first. Then again, I don’t suspect you’re trawling the Internet for illicit pictures of yourself either.
So we are back to the irrational fear of pictures of you ending up on the Internet and seen by others all, if not most, of whom don’t know you.
Not so long ago, I had the pleasure of reading Iseult Richardson’s book No Shadows Fall and in it there are photographs of the entire Macaskie family, some showing Iseult and her sisters as children growing up into womanhood. This is a book about her life, as much as it is about her parents and the history of Spielplatz. If there were no photographs, would the book still be as interesting? Perhaps, but no biography of a person, a family or of a place is complete, unless there are pictures that help to illustrate the story being unfolded.
We are currently marking the centenary of events that occurred between 1914 and 1918. There is no one alive today who can tell us first hand what the trenches of the western front were like, or what it was like for those left behind on the home front. We can only gain an idea, with the pictures taken then worth ‘a thousand words’, if not more, today. Without them, we’d have very little to stir the imagination, to provoke debate. It is not we, who pays the price of our irrational fear of being photographed. It is the future generations who will not see what the past was like, with naturism accepted by many more people than they can imagine. Will today’s children remember a happy holiday at a naturist campsite in 10 or 20 years time without photographic prompt?
I am not saying that without photography, naturism will die but it will be harder to show that the human body is not shameful, or lewd, because it has no clothes on.