The National Trust won't work with anyone

This is a more considered post after I’ve had some time to reflect on the issue involved.

I found out, the hard way, that the National Trust photographic library won’t work with anyone. Even if the plan has commercial merit for the benefit of both parties, you can be sure that the photo library unit will not let you gain any benefit.

Basically, it comes down to that if you take a picture while on an area of National Trust land which would require a ticket or purchase to get to, then you will not be able to sell the image.

In fact, you are actually not allowed even to take a picture whilst in such an area.

Local venues don’t have the power to grant such ability. Taking pictures within such areas is, apparently, reserved for their photographic library only. That is probably going to be news for all the people I see happily snapping pictures whenever I visit such a property. I’ve never entered a property and seen any such warning about not being allowed to take photographs beyond the point of ticket entry; only for individual buildings whilst on the land. This is the National Trust cleverly operating double standards. I put it down to either lack of communication and the local venues either not knowing the national rules, or deliberatley chosing to flout them for risk of upsetting and turning away an ever more snap happy paying visitor.

This state of affairs came about after a conversation with staff from the photographic library. My actual conclusion was that the National Trust is knowingly only enforcing the rules when it is most convenient for it. The safest thing to do is not to take a camera.

(edit: after further conversation with the Photographic Library team, apparently amateur/personal photography is allowed but how they distinguish from a pro with a quality compact and an amateure with a DSLR is a bit on the intriguing side. Also, how they police the images is another odd question.)

The photo library states that is trying to protect the commercial viability of their image library. The ultimate question, therefore, is what do they do with that library which makes money for the National Trust? What is it about that library which makes it worth protecting? It also raises the question that if the library has such a large collection of useful images which are available to local sites, then why do venues ask for help creating photo albums and the like? Don’t they know that they are asking their visitors to voluntarily admit to having broken the rules on photography and open themselves up to the possibility of legal procedings?

It starts to sound as if the only audience for the photographic library is actually the venues themselves, and that the library thus has the power to dictate its customers to purchase only from itself. If that is true, then it would certainly be a sad set of affairs.

The whole thing is a mess, if you ask me. The national rules hamstring the local venues quite effectively from undertaking what could be profitable ventures, and allows the various sections of the National Trust to operate double standards; some venues knowing, and others not. With some venues having blurred boundaries between attached woodland and garden areas the boundaries get even more blurred. The upshot of all this is that if the National Trust don’t like you’re face and want to prosecute, then you’re in trouble.

All this might seem pathetic and picky, but with the increasing amount of U.K. herritage coming under the protection of the national trust, it brings me to mind of a few lines from The King and I … “If allies are strong with power to protect me,
Might they not protect me out of all I own?” It does concern me that with the prices of tickets being quite high already in relation to other venues, that the National Trust could soon be in a position to hold a gun against the financial head of the people of the country for access to the nations own herritage … the very people who it relies on to volunteer their time to support their operations.

I am concerned that the National Trust is developing a very dangerous attitude. Just look at what the National Trust have done in Studland since they inherited the land there; persecuting naturists. (The National Trust have ignored my e-mails for explanations. As a member of the national trust I believe I am entitled to know the aims and objectives of what I am a member of.) These people hold the nations heritage in their hands, and they are dictating the kinds of people that they prefer to be utilising that heritage; that is a very dangerous thing to do. Time will … as usual … tell.

Journal Comments

  • Sam Van
  • fleece