Home Cameras/Lenses Leica I’ve got a big dot on my forehead. Please don’t take my...

I’ve got a big dot on my forehead. Please don’t take my picture

Couldn’t find a red dot, short of prising one off the M-10, but this orange dot (in honour of the Netherlands, of course) will have to do. It means that under no circumstances am I to be photographed. But how long will it be before you have to wear a dot on your face if you do want to be photographed ? Landscape photography is just about to get a big boost

Just as Leica is busy removing the red dot from the face of the M10-P, festival goers in the Netherlands are being encouraged to put a red dot on their foreheads. It’s just another wacky idea following the introduction of the GDP regulations in May this year. It is actually probably nothing to do with GDPR, just another overreaction to the new fetish for control.

According to the organisers of the Haarlem Culinary festival, visitors are fair game for photographers unless they put a large red dot on their forehead. The presence of the red dot indicates that you do not give your permission to be photographed. 

Already, I’ve noticed an increasing reluctance among strangers — especially visitors to events such as the Bièvres Photo Fair which I touched on back in June — to have their pictures taken. Photographers are now a lot warier than they were and I am not alone in now feeling inhibited. I definitely take fewer pictures of faces than I did in the past. This is a pity because I enjoy street photography and this new emphasis on default privacy makes things difficult. 

It has always been generally accepted that if you are in public you are part of the scenery and can be photographed.

This would appear to be no longer clear, and antics such as the red dottery at Haarlem are symptoms of an increasing problem for photographers. Eventually, I suppose, we will be restricted to still-life compositions and inoffensive landscapes, having pixel peeped carefully to airbrush out any individuals wearing a red dot. It is fortunate the old cars and motorcycles have no rights in the matter.

Of course, this is an overreaction. It could be called dotty. I cannot imagine people wearing red dots on their foreheads just in case they should happen to pass the lens of a photographer while out in town. Nevertheless, the mere fact that the organisers can come up with such a daft idea is worrying. It won’t be long before some idiot suggests we should all wear a coloured dot if we do want to be photographed.

But see our translation of the relevant blog post from Haarlem below. Note the final sentence: “In addition, thanks to all the enthusiasm with which this has been received, we have started to give this action an even clearer face and put it on the map of the legislator. More madness….

As a sequel, the same festival organisers have discovered that the red dot on the forehead could be offensive to certain groups. I could have told them that before they started. Now they are thinking of a white dot, hoping that no one will think it odd or be offended by it. They might also be advised to steer clear of yellow dots and pink dots Come to think of it, why not a triangle? It’s more emphatic than a dot and would be sure to offend even more people.

Read the full story on Petapixel

Een stip = geen foto

What the organisers said

“Since January of this year, we have been increasingly asking ourselves whether we are doing all right. Our events, our websites, photos, video; every time we run against the new AVG / GPDR legislation. In other words, how do we process personal data?

“During the Haarlem Culinair, we made a small adjustment in our house rules. If you do not want to be recognisable in images on photos and videos taken during the event, we offer the possibility of sticking a red dot on the forehead so that we can make these people unrecognisable when checking the photos…..

“Now that Bubbles & Bites is already on the doorstep from 24 to 26 August, we have also introduced a similar expansion in the house regulations. From that moment on, the phone was red hot. Media, internet experts and fellow organisers wanted to know everything. There was also a considerable discussion on the internet with purely positive feedback. In these discussions too, the lack of clarity of the new legislation often emerged.

“Several times, we were reminded of people who have a red dot on the forehead from a religious background. That is why from now on – and Bubbles & Bites has the scoop – we will offer a white dot instead of red dots.

“In addition, thanks to all the enthusiasm with which this has been received, we have started to give this action an even clearer face and put it on the map of the legislator…..”



  1. Barking mad. I suggest if you don’t want to be recognised in a photo you either were a hoodie or do what the police and protesters do in certain dubious places around the world and wear a balaclava. You can just about get away with it in winter in siberia but you would look a bit daft in Turkey at 40 degrees centigrade. It would however preserve your identity.

  2. I really think a lot of this is driven by phone cameras and everybody videoing anything that happens. I hope they don’t go to the next step and ban cameras like they do at concerts.

  3. I just love your very appropriate use of certain adjectives here Michael, "Daft", "Idiot" and "dotty" and so on. Whilst I am conscious of getting myself into trouble with Macfilos (again), this is clearly a political post, I feel able to vent a little spleen here.

    The USA is and always has, resolutely kept the controls on the internet, light and out of the hands of politicians, they managed to see off a campaign that was launched a few years back from one bunch of authoritarians or another. Back they come again, this time in the form of EUF (European Union Fascism).

    This insidious bunch of criminals are upset that they don’t seem to be able to control the internet and in turn the "populist politicians" and the oiks that these populists are in their view, negatively influencing.

    The approach, beginning with the GDPR is a gradual erosion of the internet as a useful facility for ordinary folk. The European Parliament managed to block the EC’s latest endeavour, which was to break the system of linking via URL. This is what actually makes the internet useful to ordinary folk, of course the only users should be intelligent people like them… Just like it used to be, before those wicked people Tim Berners-Lee and Marc Andreasson opened up the possibilities.

    Arpanet (not a housewife from Carshalton) is 51 years old, truth doesn’t need a ministry.

  4. I think both yourself and Stephen J below have missed one – "Bonkers".. I might even have preceded it with an expletive, but won’t. I am sure anyone reading this can add it themselves.

    In fact this stuff is so amusing, rather than wear a circle, dot or even triangle, why not use a square – in the form of a carboard box placed over your head with eye holes cut in to it. I mean how bloomin ridiculous are these things going to get.

    Unlike Mike I am not put off in the slightest. I am still out there on the streets shooting stuff, and I havent really changed my behaviours – I assume at some point someone will decide to debate it with me out there on the streets. I also havent yet encountered any hostility even in and around London (Mike I am back in London tomorrow with the Df, If I dont return you know I came a cropper). 🙂 In fact most the places I have been in recent months, people are fairly reasonable and okay with it. In fact with the X I am still getting curiosity discussions about what it is.

    As John points out below, concert photography is more or less obsolete now, unless you can get in small gig, or somewhere unique – the bigger venues have more less banned the camera, even though you get 4000 people waving the latest photo/video catching smartphone out there – some of those have leica lenses you know.. What next, ban you smartphone from a concert, just in case.. lol. Medway council banned cameras from their castle conerts a few years back, no drama it only affected me and about three others who massive zoom lenses in. This year they banned alcohol from four of the five concerts, and oddly made a huge loss on the whole event, that was driven by a small number who created carnage a year earlier, but oddly affected everyone who attends.. Anyway a bit of topic now that Ive read this back.. There was an upside to the alcohol thing, I saw Jools Holland attended by about 200 other people, it was like having a private show. The other 3800 must have been down the pub consoling themselves. I reckon alcohol will be back next year.

    Oddly as no one can ban smartphone camera shooting people, mainly hip youngesters, I suspect this will all pass in time as another dopey fad – sorry folks, not had a ramble like that for a while.. :0


  5. This is, of course, the Westernised version of the Bindi or Sindoor red dot, mainly worn by women, to be found in India and other South and South East Asian countries. There is some debate about what it means, but some say it was originally intended to signify that a woman was married, so hands off lads! However, Holy Men also wear it and, if the heat did not addle my memory too much I had something squashed onto my forehead when I was in India a few years ago.

    I spent 5 years living in the Middle East where taking photos of women with veils was regarded as ‘haram’, but I did manage to sneak in a few tasteful shots. Don’t forget that it is not so long ago that women in Europe did not venture out in public without hats and gloves, certainly in my country. Queen Elizabeth is now one of the last high profile subscribers to that tradition. Ladies who do dressage also still sometimes wear a net over their faces, but I imagine that might be to deal with certain substances flying around in the air rather than to avoid being photographed.

    I don’t regard people walking around the streets and other public places as ‘lens fodder’, but apparently a lot of photographers do. The likes of Garry Winogrand have a lot to answer for. My attitude is that if somebody does not want to have their photograph taken, I won’t take their photo.

    The issue has been magnified by the use of mobile phones and social media and also the degree to which such devices can now alter images as well as sending them to the furthest point on the globe. It is the users of these, rather than rich blokes ‘poncing’ around with Leicas, that are being targeted, I would imagine. Am I concerned about this? Not in the slightest. I imagine that the only way that this ‘non-legal’ measure could be enforced would be via ‘ bouncers’ or so-called ‘security staff’. Wild horses would not drag me anywhere near such a so-called ‘music festival’, particularly one ‘policed ‘ by such persons.


    • I did look closely and used this deliberately — well at least because I couldn’t find another suitable sticker on the spur of the moment. I discovered it beats expensive Clinique face scrubs, incidentally.


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