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Bloggers and photographers

Bloggers and photographers – not all free publicity is openly welcome

When traveling, I sometimes find great places that I’m excited about. If I really enjoy my experience, I take photos and blog about it.

I share tips and recommendations because people in this day and age are looking for more information online about travel destinations. Travelers seek details before they decide to visit any given place – whether it be a resort, a hiking trail, or an artist’s shop in a city they are exploring.

The other reason why I like to share my great experiences, is because I’d like others to visit themselves and have a good time. This is what this blog is all about! It gives me pleasure to have friends and others say that my tips and blog posts inspired them, and that they had the same great experience I had in any given place I’ve written about.

However, not all shops, restaurants, and other tourist attractions deserve my positive promotion.

It all comes down to two things: 1) how I was treated at the venue; and 2) their policies about photography.  I try to include photos with my blog posts to illustrate my write-up, for as it’s said – “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Photographing inside stores not welcome

While visiting Granville Island Market in Vancouver this past week, I learned that some artisans and shop owners don’t like to have photos taken inside their stores. And I can understand the reason why – potential competitors can steal ideas for products and store concepts. This is a great nuisance for unique shops that attract customers in high traffic areas and who find themselves competing with carbon copy stores in slightly better locations.

However, shop owners and other proprietors need to be a bit more careful in how they jump to conclusions and in how they speak with customers who may be inspired to take a photo or two of their store. There’s a big difference between somebody filming or photographing a shop’s every corner and a person who takes close-up photos of a few interesting and unique products.

A lesson learned from my days in sales at Tip Top – the rules of good customer service ALWAYS apply, no matter if the customer is doing something you may not like. You still need to treat the customer with respect and as if he or she were right – and of course welcome them into your shop genuinely.

Some shop owners seem to forget these key rules.

So you may be wondering what has caused me to be so passionate about this topic. Well here’s the abbreviated story:

During my visit to a shop in Granville Island Market, my friend and I met a shop owner who completely forgot the rules of good customer service. We popped into  one quiet shop and were in awe of some of the products being sold there. We snapped a couple photos before the shop owner got on the subject of photography in store.

He pointed out, in a slightly snarky tone, that we shouldn’t be taking photos in his store and that artisans in the area do not like having photos taken in their stores. There was no signage pointing this out, so we didn’t know.  His personal reason is that somebody went into one of his other shops, took photos of every corner of the store and a few months later opened up a similar shop with a similar name. Now he’s dealing with lawyers and issues related to the theft of his store concept.

I know he’s upset with what he has to deal with, but I wouldn’t have minded if he politely had asked if I was taking photos for a personal reason.  While he claimed he didn’t want to sound “cunty” (his word, not mine), he came across as abrupt, dismissive and unfriendly. This behvaiour continued even after I explained that I was from Toronto, wouldn’t be opening a similar shop in Vancouver, and that I was a blogger who would be happy to promote his shop as a must-visit spot to my readers who may be planning to visit Vancouver and to Granville Island Market. They may even be inspired to visit his cool little shop.

I shouldn’t have had to defend myself, feeling reprimanded by his comments as if I breaking some cardinal rule of the Granville Island Market.

Needless to say,  I promptly deleted the photos that I had taken in his shop and left without purchasing one item, even though I had previously considered to splurge on a few items in his shop. Considering we were the only two customers in his shop, he probably would have welcomed the sale.

He’s a loser two times over. Not only did I leave his shop empty-handed with him losing a nice sale for the day, his shop will not be named as I have no interest in promoting his business.

After this poor experience my friend and I headed to the Granville Island Brewery, where we enjoyed tasting three of their beers each, snapping photos on my iPhone (without anybody reprimanding us) and promptly posting them to my Facebook page (where 224 friends saw it and now know that there’s good beer to be enjoyed there during future Vancouver visits).

So a couple lessons learned for fellow travelers and bloggers who enjoy clicking away on their cameras when visiting markets and touristy locations (particularly those with artisan shops):

  • Always ask the proprietor if it’s alright with them to take photos and to blog about the venue/shops (restaurants are excused from this as they seem to love the idea of people taking photos and promoting their menus).
  • Don’t assume that everybody is social media savvy and understands that the power of your words and images are a very inexpensive advertising/promotion tool for their shop/restaurant etc.
Rules of photography in retail stores

Brilliant flowers at the Granville Island Market (I could take these photos)

Rules of photography in retail stores

Feeding the pigeons at Granville Island Market

Have you been caught photographing inside stores and been reprimanded? How did you handle the situation?


  1. This ‘proprietor’ is an idiot for two reasons:

    1) he most likely never questioned the individual that came into his store and took (most likely) many, many detailed photos.

    2) he jumped to conclusions about you taking one or two.

    Conclusion: he’ll need all the social media he can get now that he has a competitor.