Photographing Steampunks at the Asylum

Photography is popular at the Asylum Steampunk Festival. As a community we are very much aware that photographers find steampunks very photogenic, indeed, camera clubs often organise trips to steampunk events. Whilst the vast majority are respectful and considerate, there always seems to be a few that occasionally fail to follow common courtesy when photographing steampunks.

Photographing steampunks at the Asylum - a portrait of Robert RankinIn this post we are going to look at some guidelines to help steampunks who find photography sometimes a little intrusive, and offer some recommendations for dealing with photographers.

If you are a photographer coming to the Asylum Steampunk Festival, then we hope you will read this post to get an appreciation of how to approach steampunks when wanting to take a photograph, and we offer a few simple guidelines to get the best out of any photo opportunities.

And then, of course, there are a number of you attending the Asylum who are both steampunks and photographers!

Photography in the Street

If you are on the streets of Lincoln, photographers can take a photograph of you without consent. You have no legal right not to be photographed. A lot of paparazzi style photography is done in this way, using long lenses and often taking photos while the recipient is unaware to try and capture that candid moment.

If you spot a photographer taking candid shots of you on the street, then you can approach them and ask them politely to remove any images you are in – explaining that you don’t want to be photographed. Whether the photographer complies with your request will be up to the individual. We suggest keeping it polite rather than insisting that they delete your image. Photographing steampunks at the Asylum - LM CookeThe photographer doesn’t have to do it if you are on the public highway, but if you are civil then they may be more amenable to removing any images that you deem to be unsuitable.

Photographing children is a completely different matter and I would urge you to look up relevant legislation if you are going to have kids with you. The NSPCC also have some good guidance on this.


Photography in the Castle

If you are in the Castle grounds, it is not on the public highway, so different rules apply, you are well within your rights to ask for photos to be deleted. Photographers should ask prior to taking any photos of you or your party.

If you do not want your photo taken then a simple ‘no thank you’ should suffice.

If they are insistent and continue to take photos, turn your back on them. Don’t give them an opportunity. You can mention the Protection From Harassment Act 1997. If you continue to feel harassed by a photographer, try to find an official from the Castle or an Asylum steward. Photographer’s who are harassing members of the public (steampunks or otherwise) can be asked to leave the area.

Consent when photographing steampunks

We do know that for many steampunks being photographed in their awesome outfits is something they enjoy and they will happily pose for photos. So if you don’t mind your photo being taken, when a photographer approaches you, ask for their business card and also what Photographing steampunks at the Asylum - Professor Elementalthey are planning on doing with the images afterwards. Remember, that if they are going to be selling the photo, then you are effectively an unpaid model. Once you’ve given your consent, they can pretty much do with it what they like. Always exchange details before any photos are taken.

Professional photographers and press photographers may ask you to sign a consent form and take some details from you – again this is entirely voluntary, and always read any forms before you sign.

Some basic safety precautions.

Don’t be led away from your party alone. If the photographer wants to take photos with a more photogenic backdrop, take someone with you.

The session is over when you say it is. If you become uncomfortable at any time, just tell them that you need to get back to the festival. Remember to always be safe!

A Guide for Photographers

We understand you want to get that one perfect shot, but you won’t achieve that with reluctant models and a hostile community. It’s quite simple – be polite and respect a person’s wishes.

Many steampunks love being photographed – but many do not. Many like the attention; but again, an equal number find it annoying. Most steampunks dress the way they do for fun, because they enjoy it, and not to be photographed. Steampunk is very inclusive and there are members of our steampunk community who find social situations difficult and are not comfortable with too much attention.

As long as you ask politely, those who are inclined to let you photograph them will most likely do so, and those who refuse should not be offended.

Please remember when photographing steampunks, they are not  paid models, you do not get to order them around just to get the right angle.

  • Do ask politely
  • Do explain what the images will be used for and offer contact details
  • Respect the individual’s wishes
  • Remember steampunks are not paid models
  •  “No” means no

There are some fantastic photo opportunities offered by the festival, and if you are polite and respectful, that will continue to be the case. Buying a Festival Wristband will allow you into the different venues and you will be supporting the Asylum Steampunk Festival so it continues to be a spectacle worth photographing.

Lastly, it’s a steampunk festival – why not consider becoming part of the community yourself!

Photographing steampunks at the Asylum - The Morgan Family

10 thoughts on “Photographing Steampunks at the Asylum”

  1. Seems rather strange that you would explain the laws on photography to a group who are spending a lot of time effort and money on costumes to attend the biggest Steam Punk event in the country to be seen on the streets of Lincoln. If you dont want someone taking your photograph why would you dress for the event?

    1. Hi Jackie; many steampunks like wearing splendid clothes and wearing gadgets – they don’t necessarily do it to be photographed, but actually just for the joy of it. And most steampunks really don’t have a problem being photographed by polite, respectful photographers – as I had rather hoped this post explained, it’s just that at the Asylum we have had experiences with a very few photographers that left a lot to be desired. Hopefully, if everyone is polite and respectful – both steampunks and photographers will enjoy the event.

    2. I am sure some people dress up to get noticed and possibly photographed but not me and my friends. It is an excuse to dress up right enough just like a hen party or stag do perhaps but you don’t go on those for strangers to take your picture. Dressing for the event is about belonging, about showing you are a steampunk and about having a change from jeans or logo labels. We dress up for ourselves not to be an exhibition. If a photographer is polite I don’t mind stopping for a moment but it’s a bit arrogant for a photographer to think I have dressed up for them to take my picture isn’t it?

  2. I’m coming to Lincoln with some friends to take photographs. They will be dressed up but I will not. I would never consider taking photographs without asking, even in the public areas which do not require consent.

    Surely it is just good manners to ask.

  3. It is my understanding that even in the Castle Grounds, no photographer is obliged to delete any photos they may have taken of you, though it would of course be more kind and diplomatic to do so, if the subject was unhappy at being photographed. On private land, the owner of the premises or their security can ask you to stop taking photos, and ask you to leave if you don’t, but they cannot compel you to delete photos nor confiscate any photographic equipment. Of course, most photographers are happy to cease and desist if asked, and attendees are, of course, entitled to ask them to delete any shots if they feel uncomfortable at being caught on camera, but no one can compel a photographer to delete a photo, not even the police.

  4. My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Lincoln on Saturday 29th and enjoying the Steampunk festival.
    My wife was not aware of the style and was entranced by the wonderful outfits – she asked me if it was ok to take photos of the participants and I told her that she should politely ask each person if it would be ok.
    May I say what an absolute pleasure it was – each person that we asked was extremely friendly and helpful and happily stopped to allow us to take one or two photos, enjoy their outfits and company – we chatted to some lovely people and enjoyed an amazing atmosphere. It was a great experience to meet such a fun group, we enjoyed it so much that we are now looking to join in ourselves. My wife has gomne from knowing nothing about the scene to wanting to find vintage victoriana and take part.
    A really big thank you to all for their time, courtesy, and welcoming friendship.

  5. I will be coming to the event for the first time and am a amateur photographer. I always ask the person for permission to take their picture and in 99% of the time consent is given .
    It is also a matter of politeness

  6. Being a semi pro tog working in the modeling industry for many years,i fully appreciate a persons right to privacy and the copyright laws.Unfortunately there are those rare individuals who are rude and give us all a bad rep but hopefully common sense and manners will prevail at the 2016 event.

  7. As a photographer, I will generally ask most people if I can take their picture, you will find that the ones that say yes will allow you to take a better photograph. And as stated manners cost nothing

  8. Asking people if you can photograph them is of course courteous. I staged posed photo can sometimes be fantastic, you get the full outfit in, sharp and distinct. However, when trying to capture the essence of the Steampunk festival, the joy, the open to all, pictures on interactions: i.e. people doing ordinary things in such great outfits with people normally dressed around them, can convey this better.
    In my case, I do take ‘candid’ moments but I do make eye contact with that person and a nod or a thumbs up/ok? I certainly don’t take them and scuttle off. Reading this, I’ll ask in future but really it is a festival, a celebration and not fancy dress.

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