Friday, April 16, 2010

The Ride and writing from my soapbox

Mark Ferguson, 61 a member of Team Bicycle Rack, cools himself off with the spray fan during the Mercy Health Partners Annual "The Ride" on stationary bikes at the Lakes Mall.

    How do you have a bike riding fund raiser in March in Michigan, simple, have a stationary bike race in the mall.  How do you make you fund raising event more famous, simple, send out press releases to the newspaper.  How do you photograph the event for the newspaper, complicated. 
How can it possibly be complicated to photograph people peddling like their lives depend on it and their bikes don't move?  The answer is dumbfounding.  Well it was to me anyway.  I had one important criteria I was required to follow for this assignment.  I could not photograph any storefronts or shop logos.  Which is quite difficult when you are surrounded by shop fronts filled with logos. In order to work within the narrow constraints I was under I decided to keep most of my photographs tight.  This is my favorite example. 
    Why would the Mall, which is in the business of renting space to retailers prohibit me from showing store fronts or logos?  Brands spend tremendous amounts of money on advertising simply to get their logos name into the public eye.  Therefore getting their brand in front of thousands of people for free would be in their best interest.  Risk to retailers--negligible.  Any customer or competitor who wants to keep records of the prices the shops are charging can simply write down the information, speak it into an audio recorder or take a picture of the price for themselves.  Any competitor who wants to copy a fantastic store front display will simply take their own photograph surreptitiously instead of relying on one in the background of another picture.  In either case anyone who cares enough to copy the store will also care enough to make sure they have a source to gather the intelligence they feel they need.  Since it is in each retailers best interest to expand their brand names I can only conclude that it is the mall itself seeking to curtail my right to "stand in" for the public. 
    I believe the mall executives see no potential gain for the mall if any retail brand gains free publicity.  The retailer could benefit from the publicity but the mall would gets nothing.  On the other hand if the retailer was losing money the manager would start looking for every excuse, real and imagined, to shift the blame from themselves.  One easy target of blame--the newspaper, and by extension the mall. Because the mall did not stop the photographer from photographing the store.  So to avoid unnecessary unpleasantness with their tenants they deny their tenants potential publicity.  My ideas are all conjecture, based on a simple assessment of the situation.  There could be more cynical or short sighted motives, but I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and even corporations are really just a group of people.

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