Picture credit: Andrew Bartlett


Freelance photographer Andrew Bartlett had been planning to take pictures in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales on Saturday when he was approached by what appears to have been one of Santa’s little helpers.

As far as the photographer was concerned, however, they were not so helpful.

‘I was taking pictures of the Santa, reindeer and market area when I was approached by an assistant from the Santa stall,’ Bartlett told Amateur Photographer (AP).

‘I had only been there a few minutes.

‘She didn’t introduce herself but immediately asked if I was taking pictures of the kids, or if I had a permit.

‘When I said I’m a freelance, she asked who I was with and said that it was an official event with an official photographer present.’

Billed as a ‘fun-packed family day out’, the free-to-enter council-run Christmas Illumination Ceremony 2012 featured street performers, children’s activities and a funfair.

‘She [the Santa assistant] didn’t say who I needed permission from… But she did say I should ask the person/persons included in the picture before taking [photos of] them,’ added the photographer.

Bartlett acknowledged that there were children in the scene but said that, in any case, they were incidental to the pictures he was taking (see below).

AP understands that Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council did not operate a photography policy for people wanting to take pictures at the event.

However, the council felt it had a duty to protect members of the public by challenging unauthorised photography.

‘Some people don’t like being photographed do they?’ said an insider.

A council spokesperson revealed that the ‘Santa assistant’ in question was a council employee.

The other market stalls were also staffed by council members.

Bartlett added: ‘I didn’t really want to cause a scene with all the kids around. It’s just embarrassing, especially when I’m on public land. The same thing happened in Cardiff last year, near the city hall.’

The council employee who clashed with the photographer was not at work today, and not available for comment.

Bartlett, who had been using a Canon EOS 7D DSLR, said he has been put off from trying to photograph similar events in future.

‘I don’t feel like being stopped again… After what happened, I felt like I was being watched all the time, despite four other photographers I saw covering the event.

‘As yet, I haven’t received a reply to my [emailed] complaint from the council.’

The council said it hoped to issue an official statement on the matter to AP later today.

A photo captured by Andrew Bartlett, just before he was stopped by the ‘Santa assistant’

Picture credit: Andrew Bartlett