The Church vs. the Camera


            Although our class has had many religious adventures during our traveling here in Europe, there is one incident that sticks out in my mind above all others.  This incident occurred at Montmartre in Paris, our last stop on our Paris trip before we returned to England.  Upon entering the church we viewed the typical sights that say “No Photography Allowed,”.  This rule was at the heart of the conflict myself and a few others were fortunate enough to witness.

            We spend only a short amount of time in Montmartre, about fifteen minutes or so, but I will never forget what I saw upon leaving.  Throughout the church I witness a few people who chose to ignore the signs and snap a few pictures.  I thought that this might be construed as slightly disrespectful, but the tourist photographers did not seem to be bothering anyone or ruining anyone’s prayer time.  However, as we were about to walk out of the church I saw two women standing next to each other near the doorway.  One was obviously a tourist and the other was a little old lady dressed in a worn out, old wool dress.  The tourist pulled out a point and click camera and started to line up a shot of the beautiful church roof.  Just then, the woman next to her reaches out and violently grabbed her camera.  I really thought that she might have broken it in her haste.  Then the woman proceeded to rudely swear and yell at the oblivious tourist about not taking pictures in the church.  With all the other people in there taking pictures I thought it odd that this woman would even bother to get someone to stop taking pictures, let alone rudely yell at them and nearly break their property.  I witnessed this situation for about twenty seconds or so and then we left the church.  To be honest, I doubt that the tourist will choose to take more pictures inside churches, but if it were me, I wouldn’t be deterred by some overzealous French geriatric.

            This whole incident got me to thinking, “Why can’t we take pictures inside of these churches, especially if we aren’t bothering anyone or using a flash?”  I’ve done some research and I can’t seem to get to the bottom of the issue.  While I can understand that flashes may be harmful to very old books, painting or tapestries, it makes absolutely no sense why photography is not allowed in some churches, especially when other churches are more than happy to let you take pictures inside of them.  Restrictions vary from church to church.  The last thing I am trying to do is disrespect ones religion while inside of a church, but the fact that we cannot capture a brief memory while viewing the stunning interiors of churches, such as Montmartre is completely ridiculous.


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