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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Photographer urges no-photo day
Sticker advertising Non-Photography Day (Pic: Marcus Hill)
For irony fans everywhere, a photo of a sign for Non-Photography Day
A photographer from Brighton in southern England is urging the people of the world to take a day out and stop taking pictures.

Becca Bland has launched "non-photography day" - planned for 17 July - through a website together with a sticker and flyposter campaign in various cities in England.

Ms Bland told BBC World Service's Culture Shock programme that the idea has "gone global" with interest in Manchester, Leeds, London and Brighton, and even further afield in Australia and Japan.

She explained that she wanted people to "put your camera down and appreciate the moment you are in".

"Experience life in an unmediated fashion, without anything in front of your eyes. Live in the moment," she added.

'Celebrate, don't document'

Ms Bland got the idea for the day after reading various works about far-eastern Zen Buddhism.

She explained that she believes that in taking a photograph, people are trying to take possession of a place - but that photographs cannot give an "essence" of that particular place.

Ryoanji Zen Temple Rock Garden in Kyoto, Japan
For my beliefs - and for Zen beliefs - it is the essence, the whole that is more important
Becca Bland
The sticker campaign for the day has the message "celebrate the moment, don't document it".

"When you simply take photos of something, without fully engaging with it, you're assuming that all you can have and take is the actual appearance of a place - rather than other creative factors that exist in the place," Ms Bland said.

She added that a lot of people think that photographers concentrate on a small part of a place, in the belief that this can allow the detail to be better understood

"For my beliefs - and for Zen beliefs - it is the essence, the whole that is more important," she added.

"I think that's perhaps where photography does fall down - they've got that frame around it, and it's got this inability to capture the whole.

"Those things become signs and represent things, but they can never really be what the place is."

Camera culture

She added that people really committed to the idea could join the "non-photography police" - a group who are telling people about the day when they see them taking pictures on the street.

However, David Rowan, of the Trendsurfing column in British newspaper The Times, said he believes Ms Bland is "fighting a losing battle."

Brighton beach
The campaign is based in Brighton - making pictures like this a no-no
"There is also a 'buy-nothing' day, organised by anti-consumer lobbyists, and I still see shops pretty full the rest of the time," he said.

"There's an organisation called White Dot which tries to get us to switch off our TV for a day a year, and I still see the TV companies in business."

He added that while he thought it right to question the "culture of ubiquitous cameras," it is simply the way that technological developments have led to.

He pointed out that Microsoft is currently developing a project called My Life Bits, based on the idea of infinite storage space. By wearing goggles with a camera and microphone attached, the wearer can record and document everything they see and hear.

"If Becca wanted to be really popular in Britain, she would get closed circuit TV cameras switched off for a day, so they wouldn't be recording your car registration and they wouldn't be following you round the streets," he added.


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