Photographer Ken Duncan proposes boycott of Vivid Festival

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For years, Australian photographer Ken Duncan has been challenging the bureaucracy around photographers' taking images, and as reported in an interview with Capture magazine, has now set his sights on Sydney's hugely popular Vivid Festival.

Duncan’s wish is for New South Wales to become the arts-friendly capital of Australia, but is concerned onerous restrictions on professional photography (and what is perceived as professional photography) on Sydney's waterfront are hindering chances of it happening.

The current situation, as far as Duncan is concerned, is “ridiculous”. “If a photographer has no more access to a location and causes no greater impact than that of a member of the public, then why should they be subject to a fee?” he says, referring to fees for professional photographers shooting in public places.

Duncan is seeking to simplify the process, and free up photographers' ability to take images in public spaces.

Advocacy for photographers' rights is nothing new to Duncan, widely considered one of Australia's finest landscape photographers. He's run successful protests in Sydney with hundreds of photographers in attendance, countless meetings with politicians and regulatory bodies, photographic organisations, and used social media to draw attention to his concerns.

“We, the people, need to fight,” Duncan told Capture. “Because what unites us is the ability to take photos.”

“But we need more people in the industry doing something, and making a noise about the situation. Duncan feels that younger photographers “need to get off their butts because it’s their freedoms that they’re going to lose”.

Two years ago, while taking photographs in Barangaroo, Sydney, Duncan was interrogated and almost arrested. “I’m sick of feeling like a criminal all the time as a photographer,” Duncan admits. “The reason I’m fighting is so the next generation has the same freedoms as I’ve enjoyed."

With the Vivid festival almost upon Sydney, Duncan is calling for photographers to boycott the event. “Once a year, NSW becomes friendly towards photographers, and they have free reign to take pictures of whatever they like around the harbour. The rest of the time, there are laws against what we’re doing.”

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