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For about 10 years Balletco, and now DanceTabs, have been running galleries of photoshoots including Royal Ballet. First they were done by John Ross and when John stood down by Dave Morgan. Typically the galleries ranged between 20 and 40 pictures and covered many more dancers then just principals.

We have been told that we are no longer going to be allowed to put up galleries of more the 3 shots of a ballet. I've been aware for a while and looked to reverse but it was also not clear that everybody had been told. Well I think that is the case now - it blew up on Twitter yesterday with this initial tweet by Elliot Franks:
https://twitter.com/elliottfranks/status/338265695651508225

Do some searches after to see more. But I note that ROH are saying they will put up their reasons for the change - this is a good thing to do. I'm currently abroad and have little time but have tweeted as follows:


Away in Gdansk & all hell has broken loose re @RoyalOperaHouse effectively banning pro photographer galleries of RB: https://twitter.com/elliottfranks/status/338265695651508225

.@elliottfranks the @RoyalOperaHouse galleries ban applies to us/@zxdavem and I believe @theballetbag also.

@RoyalOperaHouse @elliottfranks @theballetbag @zxdavem We have been running much loved galleries now for nearly 10 years.

@RoyalOperaHouse @elliottfranks @theballetbag @zxdavem ...and ROH have even used images from our gallieres in their own books.

@RoyalOperaHouse Be good to see your reasons in writing for all to see. It needs to be good to convince folks of such a negative change.

@RoyalOperaHouse @elliottfranks @theballetbag @zxdavem Twitter tedius 4 this. Am opening thread on balletcoforum where pix r routinly put up


And so here we are. Look forward to seeing what people think and also the hard reasons ROH are looking to kill what has been excellent coverage.

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What a pity ! I really enjoy looking at the photo galleries. So few images appear in the press or the ROH programmes the galleries are much appreciated. Hope the RoH can be persuaded to change their minds.

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On the face of it, this seems like a ridiculous decision. I hope the ROH has good reason for this negative move. Daughter and I love looking at the photos - particularly Dave M's - either before or after seeing performances. I even went to see Onegin on the strength of the photos. ROH programmes are extraordinarily stingy with production photos, and these wonderful photo galleries focus on so many dancers, not just principals.

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Same here, I've booked a few performances particularly for new stuff after seeing the photos.

 

I don't tend to buy programmes one way or the other since I'll never look at them again once I'm home (and often enough they won't even include images of the cast you saw on the day) and not having cast pictures online won't change that but I will miss the chance to find out who Corps girl #28 was. And then maybe booking a performance where she has a bigger role, cause hey, wasn't she the one who I looked up after she did a nice variation in ballet x?

 

I really appreciate the 'insight' clips ROH posts on youTube, and I can understand if they decide they don't want to lose copyright, editorial input or commercial opportunities for pictures not published by them. Perhaps they could look at including the galleries on their own site, posted by 'approved' photographers so they can retain editorial input and control release dates of images.

 

Losing the galleries altogether would be a shame.

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What a pity, seems such a very narrow minded decision of RB Press/ROH Press.

The photo galleries assist in familiarising ourselves with many dancers, especially non-Principals (whose photos are plastered in Tube stations anyway).

This decision will further create an unnecessary distance between the Ballet audience and RB/ROH and alienate the public further. The Galleries help to popularise Ballet, where else can we see photos of dancers? The professional Ballet magazines are selective in material shown.

There's no popular magazine out there to bring us closer to the dancers :(

This makes me really cross. An elitist decision if you ask me, clearly THEY want FULL control.

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I must say that I'm at a loss to understand the logic behind this move - what harm does the ROH feel has been done to its interests by the publication of these galleries in various not-for-profit environments?  And if no harm has been done, what other reason is there?

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Very disappointing news indeed. I love viewing the galleries of photos and had been looking forward to using them to help keep up with the various RB productions throughout the rest of this year whilst I'm abroad for work. In particular I like spotting the various corps members and the shots are always so beautiful :)

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My understanding, from the tiny bit I've heard, is that they're trying to clamp down on people posting photos in unauthorised galleries or for their own self-promotion and profit; some companies have very strict rules on how and where photos of them can be used. And as they can't just clamp down on one set of photographers and not all, this seems to me why they're scaling back the photo allowance for DanceTabs, for example (an "authorised gallery".)

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If the problem is unauthorised use of photographs, can't they threaten or use legal action in the cases where it applies? They had done it with the Intermezzo blog a few years ago, so they clearly not afraid to do it. Or did the ensuing outcry causing them to backtrack with a press release to publicly apologise led them to think a blanket ban would be a smarter solution?

 

It also smacks a little of contempt to the audience, I don't get why they need over 24 hours after the decision is made public to justify it.

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I wonder - just as a question of website decorum - might this particular string not be better termed a 'dance news and information' item?  In itself it would not appear to me to be a 'performances seen' or 'general' discussion per se (as I certainly think of it as being - as it should be - very specific in its focus).  I realise, of course, that I am often wrong and certainly will be oh, so very grateful for your kind advice to strengthen my own better future understanding as towards item placements on these much valued forums.  With thanks for your kind advice and apologies for moving away from the root of this important and rightfully core discussion.

Edited by Meunier
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Yes, I agree that the photographs are a nice way of keeping people interested in a production (and therefore the company) even if they cannot attend a live performance. It also helps people get to know, or at least recognise, the more junior dancers which helps to create affection for, and loyalty to, the dancers and the company which is surely a good thing.

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I would have thought that giving permission for their image to be used would be part of their contracts. Even when you do an RAD competition you give permission for your photo to be used. I can't imagine the dancers have a problem with their photos being used.

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I wonder - just as a question of website decorum - might this particular string not be better termed a 'dance news and information' item?  In itself it would not appear to me to be a 'performances seen' or 'general' discussion per se (as I certainly think of it as being - as it should be - very specific in its focus).  I realise, of course, that I am often wrong and certainly will be oh, so very grateful for your kind advice to strengthen my own better future understanding as towards item placements on these much valued forums.  With thanks for your kind advice and apologies for moving away from the root of this important and rightfully core discussion.

Meunier, I'm sure this is fine where it is, as a "general discussion" item. :-)

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Photographers get paid  but do the dancers get paid for their photos?

 

Actually, many of the photographers are unpaid, and will only get paid if any of their photos are bought.

 

Dave Morgan, Alice Pennefather and others give up a lot of their time - both photographing and post-processing - to provide these photos without receiving any payment, and the question is how many of them will continue to put all that work in for only three photos which they can display.

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Well said harpistic!

 

One query - do other companies provide similar photo opportunities and allow the photographs to be shown in galleries?

 

It depends on the company; I'm fairly new to photocalls (I photograph for London Dance), but if we look at DanceTabs's, The Ballet Bag's and Elliott Franks's sites, we can see that most of them are fairly open about this, while others such as Rambert state that the photos can be used for press purposes only.

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Pardon my ignorance harpistic (or anyone else on here that takes photos) but at the rehearsals where the photos are taken, are photographers invited by the ROH, or do they have to apply? Are people at the ROH aware of who the photographers are and where their photos end up?

 

Agree with Janet, a very retrospective step. They don't seem to have any understanding of PR or social media. Look at the way they announce cast changes days after they are already common knowledge.

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Photographers need to be affiliated with an agency, publication or accepted website in order to invited by ROH to photograph the dress rehearsals. This is true for the other major venues and companies, too. Normally, in other circumstances, the photos would be primarily for press purposes, but I understand that this is not the case for ROH.

 

We'll have to see what their statement says, when it's released, and if they'll explain what provoked this - though as Bruce said at the top, this has been brewing for a while. It's bad timing for it to kick off at the start of a bank holiday weekend!

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Photographers need to be affiliated with an agency, publication or accepted website in order to invited by ROH to photograph the dress rehearsals. This is true for the other major venues and companies, too. Normally, in other circumstances, the photos would be primarily for press purposes, but I understand that this is not the case for ROH.

 

We'll have to see what their statement says, when it's released, and if they'll explain what provoked this - though as Bruce said at the top, this has been brewing for a while. It's bad timing for it to kick off at the start of a bank holiday weekend!

 

Thanks. The fact that current photographers are invited in makes this about turn all the more bizarre.

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Just so we all know: on Twitter, ENB appears to have welcomed photographers - or to be accurate, to continue to welcome photographers - whilst, if I understood an earlier ROH tweet correctly, it will be Tuesday before they will be ready to say anything on this issue.  They have, however, been informed that a topic has been opened here .... and that they are most welcome to join in.  

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I hope ROH will realise how many of us are upset about this backwards decision. In a time when we all use social media to the full they decide it's no longer suitable for us RB fans to see the wonderful photos taken by professional photographers. I am not able to watch every ballet at the ROH (too costly) but I do enjoy looking at performance photos of those Ballets I cannot see & it makes me feel part of it all.

I have to save up every year to pay for my ROH Friends Membership and I feel this decision is letting me down (I can't speak for others here).

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This is a huge OWN GOAL.  Do they want to promulgate the Royal Ballet or not, plus upset some of their biggest fans. All the photo galleries show the dancers in the best possible light and are a delight to follow.  We should continue to lobby to change this most negative policy.

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What a sad day for ballet if ROH insist on pushing this stupid new policy through.  Where is the harm?  I'd love to have a few words with whoever dreamed up this idea.  Bottom line - do they want people to come to the ballet or not? 

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Same here, I've booked a few performances particularly for new stuff after seeing the photos.

 

I don't tend to buy programmes one way or the other since I'll never look at them again once I'm home (and often enough they won't even include images of the cast you saw on the day) and not having cast pictures online won't change that but I will miss the chance to find out who Corps girl #28 was. And then maybe booking a performance where she has a bigger role, cause hey, wasn't she the one who I looked up after she did a nice variation in ballet x?I

 

This really is an incredibly, incredibly disappointing decision.  When I first heard of it, the Intermezzo débacle came to mind straightaway.  Coated has put it very well: I too have been intrigued by the pictures of new works which I've seen, here and elsewhere; I appreciate the chance to see other casts from the "official" ones, and, although I hadn't actually realised it until I saw Coated's post, I have often managed to identify junior dancers I hadn't previously recognised from such photos, which then helps me to keep a better eye on them in the future if I think they have a lot of promise.  Of course, Dave M's meticulous crediting of all dancers contributes hugely to this.

 

I'm afraid 3 photos max. just won't do it for me - that's just not enough to give an overall feel even of a one-act ballet.  (And what about the recent Ashton quintuple bill?  You wouldn't even be able to represent every ballet on the programme.)  Very sad.

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While I'd hate to repeat myself, there are other companies which do not permit any distribution of their photos beyond press purposes. Their fans do not suffer any loss because of this, and they have loyal fans throughout the country and sell-out shows, regardless of how many production photos they can view in advance.

 

While many of use hate change, let's not overreact about this situation, and wait until ROH release a considered response to this situation, so that we can see what they are proposing instead. Above all, we have to remember that their openness about photography until now has been a gift and not a right, and again, it has been known for some time that it would be withdrawn.

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I'm afraid 3 photos max. just won't do it for me - that's just not enough to give an overall feel even of a one-act ballet.  (And what about the recent Ashton quintuple bill?  You wouldn't even be able to represent every ballet on the programme.)  Very sad.

 

 

Unless I'm mistaken, (and I often am), in the last wonderful posting by Dave M (of photographs of the Raven Girl/Symphony in C double bill) - and prior certainly to my own awareness of the RB ANNOUNCEMENT/PROCLAMATION OF POLICY CHANGE herein discussed -  there were SIX pictures in total - with three of each separately titled production.  Perhaps a limit of three per each 'named ballet' has been actioned to protect the work of the RB's own in house photographers.  I, myself, wonder if a similar limit has been placed on 'additional photographers' taking pictures of the Royal Opera productions?  Does anyone know?  I cannot see notation of such in any of the commentary on this thread.  Certainly I could, myself, understand this.  I well remember being a member of the company of the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada many seasons ago and - while many people took pictures of the company as whole for publication at the designated photo calls - (there were 22 said productions that season) - only TWO were EVER officially allowed to take pictures of Maggie Smith (who was then in the company).  In the vast majority of instances publications were forced to use the 'official' photographs of those photographers who were on the payroll of the Stratford Festival itself. This was undertaking to protect the quality of these images which were spectacular (and are still sold on postcards to this day). Certainly 'other photographers' were barred from taking photographs wherein Ms. Smith would appear.  I remember they were very strict about this.  I also did 13 productions on Broadway and those were ONLY ever allowed to be photographed by the 'offical' photographer and their staff.  Certainly this is still true of the Metropolitan Opera.  My concern in terms of some of the stealth of this discussion would be that the RB management might well question their own kind largess (e.g., the restriction of three being surely in their gift ALONE).  I think harpistic's note of caution is at heart - at this stage - well founded.  If people are unhappy with the situation (as now yet undefined) - which surely is outside of anyone's hands but the institution of the ROH itself - I would imagine a most effective response would be to cease buying copies of any official ROH publication (yearbooks, say - or calendars - or postcards) such as are primarily driven by their in house photographic records.  That will, I'm certain, be most keenly felt.

Edited by Meunier
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