The BBC has cautioned its audience that while it can warn people about news reports featuring flash photography, the Corporation is “powerless” to protect people from flash photography that occurs “off air” and away from television cameras in the course of everyday life.
BBC Head of Visual Stroboscopics (HOVIS) Mike Smith said there have been experiments on local radio with presenters randomly alerting the public to the possibility of unpredictable flash photography in real life, particularly in poorly lit tourist attractions, camera shops, barmitzvahs and participating branches of Nandos.
And a new BBC 3 documentary called “Warning, Flash Photography” will alert people to the dangers of red eye, annoying uncles and clicky noises. It will contain bad language and flash photography ‘from the fucking start’.
By contrast, news reports now feature coverage in which the flash photography has been meticulously edited out, with reporters saying “flash!” and occasionally “flash flash flash!” at exactly the right moments to preserve standards of accuracy. Meanwhile press photographers are experimenting with a shouted warning, taser style, of “Warning, Flash Photograph Imminent!” before pressing the shutter button. This has been particularly effective at press conferences.
Meanwhile a campaign is under way to persuade photographers to consider alternatives to flash photography, like exquisitely executed line drawings, or one thousand words.