European Festival Urges Audience to Wear Red Dot on Forehead to Opt out of Being Photographed

European Festival Urges Audience to Wear Red Dot on Forehead to Opt out of Being Photographed

By now, everyone within the EU has witnessed the effects of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the Internet. One festival held in the Netherlands has come up with an unconventional way to try to combat the issue of attendees wishing to not have their photo taken.

According to, the company behind the festival, H&L, are operating a system whereby festival-goers are encouraged to wear a red dot on their head (provided by the staff) should they not wish to be photographed. After introducing it at another of their events a few weeks previously, the system is now being rolled out at their other festivals. The suggestion is printed as part of the terms and conditions on flyers that were handed out.

A translation of the rule reveals: "You give permission for photos and videos taken on the site to be used for publication purposes. If you really do not want to be recognizable in photos or video, you can get a red dot from the organization and stick it on your forehead. It may also be a lipstick dot."

Henry Leeflang from H&L told local news outlet De Telegraaf that the festival’s photographers take photos and publish them on Facebook and that the option of wearing a red dot allows one to easily opt out. Organizers have promised to obscure the face of anyone sporting a red dot that makes it to a photo published in the online gallery.

While intended to be a lighthearted approach to the new legal requirements, there are plans to continue the system at future festivals.

Lead image credit: Sarah Richter via Pixabay.

Jack Alexander's picture

A 28-year-old self-taught photographer, Jack Alexander specialises in intimate portraits with musicians, actors, and models.

Log in or register to post comments

Maybe they want to be able to enjoy public events and still have some modicum of control over where their face gets posted. Given how photos of your activities can enter into other facets of your life such as hiring decisions, it's not surprising that people are less comfortable with not having control over how their image gets used.

Also, in this case, it's a situation where the festival is going to be using the photos for promotional purposes on social media so you could argue that there's a commercial element there.

It's not like you will get tagged in those photos of a concert with 20k other people in them lol.

I understand not wanting to be photographed but the red dot thing is silly. What if you're Hindu but want to be photographed??

I don't imagine that there's a whole lot of Hindu's in the Netherlands so it might not have crossed their minds.

I have no idea. I was doing corporate portraits in the Western U.S. not too long ago and had an interesting conversation with one of my subjects about their red dots. Much more complex than I'd thought.

I can't wait to see how this plays out because I think it is a brilliant idea.
I have actually stopped going to some social events because I don't want photographs of me dancing or drinking or eating~posted on Instagram and Facebook or wherever.
No one asks anymore, they just assume it's okay~and it's not.

"No one asks anymore, they just assume it's okay~and it's not." Well technically it is. Law states that you are allowed to be photographed when in a public place so it is actually ok. Unless a person is intending to make money from the image of course. If I want to go out and take pictures of people dancing, eating and drinking in a public place I can and I will.

You can but if someone indicates they don't want to be photographed, you shouldn't. If I'm photographing people as part of a crowd, I don't ask. If it's one person or one person is the main subject, I ask.

Legally? It's fine—at least in the USA. I think most people that object to this practice do so on moral or ethical grounds.

Then if you upload said photo to IG, Twitter or elsewhere and the photo gets "sampled" for other purposes, then what? I just think courtesy should rule the decision whether to photograph someone. I'll usually photograph someone without asking them to keep the mood. Then, use the photo as part of the request to let me keep it. If they say no: DELETE. There are tons of people who will say yes.

If you are an organization (profit or nonprofit makes no difference) you can’t store and or publish portraits of people without permission anymore. That’s part of the new privacy laws we have over here in the Netherlands which is based on European legislation (General Data Protection Regulation as mentioned in the article).

I am talking about private, as well as public, events like birthday parties and weddings and no, it is not okay.

It's not okay in your opinion :) With all respect, your opinion isn't the law.

I am not talking about the law. Some people have a moral and ethical compass that incorporates interactions with other living beings without any need for legislation.

So you're suggesting it is immoral or unethical to take a photo of someone in public?

I have had plenty of times when shooting an event, someone will ask not to be photographed. I always tell them I will not provide the client with any pictures that have their face in it. It was almost always a drunk trying to hide his lifestyle. It is also my least favorite type of photography, but when your biggest client wants you to shoot a party, you take the bad with the good.

You mean.... like Bindi? Really? :D

I don't if I want a red sticker stuck on my forehead all day at festival ..... However I do understand people not wanting their picture taken and especially their kids picture taken and posted on social media.... It is not like it use to be in this world anymore and people want to protect their kids anyway they can... We have the responsibility as photographers to respect the rights of others especially when it comes to peoples children. Ask it is that simple and if you don't and the parent chases you down bust up your equipment and knocks the living hell out ya... All I can say is you deserved it. RESPECT we all deserve it.

They are probably just joking or making that for free press

A minor thing: is not the organisator behind Haarlem Culinair, is a newssite who spoke with the organisator of the festival. (probaby lost in translation)
In the article they write that only 3 out of 70.000 used such a sticker.

I myself work for newssite (, mostly and I have to say that we europeans suffer a lot under the GDPR (the Netherlands calls it the AVG and the Germans DSGVO), the classic streetphotography is now impossible.

Just an example of the impact of the GDPR:
- When you finish school there is usually a photo of the whole class in the newspaper.
With the GDPR you need to have a written consent with each student over
- Who will take the photo
- What are the security measurements of that photographer (antivirus/ several backups)
- What are the security measurements of the newspaper
- - Who is going to handle the picture: the editor, layouter, writer...?
- The print agency: their security measurements, how long will the picture be saved?
- Who is going to handle the pictures there?
- Online Publication and the webhoster: get the idea
- oh and: a lot of the students are minors
As a result many schools are not taking anymore those pictures because the legal situation is not clear or the things above are too much of a burden ( sorry its dutch:

A pre-Kindergarten school in Germany made a printed photo album and used a permanent marker to make a faces black, because it was too difficult to get from everyone a consent for publication. You can see only the face of your own child:

One school in germany wrote the grades in the schoolreport with their hands. They couldnt use a computer to print the grades, because of the same issue. ( I can elaborate that, but my post is already quite long :D )

use 2 dots.