Page last updated at 06:44 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Documenting Christmas by camera

Is Christmas becoming too commercialised?

By Will Leitch
BBC Radio Ulster

The pre-Christmas rush often means the days before the 25 December pass in a blur of shopping and preparations.

But how much do you remember about what it was like, even six months later? Has the nature of Christmas changed in the past few years?

These are the questions a group of amateur photographers in Belfast are hoping to answer.

"Belfast Spendmas" plan to spend Saturday afternoon in the city compiling a photographic record of the gradual commercialisation of Christmas.

The results of their work will be posted on the internet photo-sharing site Flickr.

Rob Elkin is the group organiser: "It's really to capture the difference between what Christmas used to be, and what Christmas has become.

"People are going to take what they want from the photos that we take anyway, we're there just to document, we're not there to comment."

The participants have arranged the photo shoot via the social networking site Twitter, but say any photographer is welcome to join them.

The group will start at the Continental Market at City Hall at 1400 GMT, and move round the most popular shopping areas over the course of the following few hours.

But that plan has brought its own problems.

The Victoria Square centre and Castle Court have already said they are not welcome.

Professional photographer Darron Mark from Banbridge said this is a growing problem. Innocent photographers are sometimes stopped and questioned by those suspicious of their motives.

"Being a street photographer you come up against a lot of hostility from security people," he said.

"I will be photographing businesses and seeing how that is interpreted on the other side of the camera."

All the photographs taken will be posted in the "Spendmas" group on Flickr. As a simple piece of social history, they should make fascinating viewing in 10 or 20 years time.



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