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Wedding park snaps rooted out

NEWLYWEDS hoping to have wedding photographs taken in the romantic surroundings of Shanghai Botanical Garden over the weekend were shocked to be turned away. The garden put up notices stating that commercial wedding photograph shoots are now banned. "Commercial shooting has damaged greenery in the garden and caused problems for other visitors," said Zhao Yingying, an official with the Xuhui District garden. Officials also objected to private enterprises profiting from public facilities. But just-married couples are still welcome to invite friends to photograph them in the park, Zhao added. However, it's hard for park management to determine whether a bride, groom and party plus photographer is a commercial shoot or just a friend taking snaps. Other local gardens say the difficulty has forced them to drop a plan to introduce a similar ban. At the weekend, brides in elaborate gowns and smartly attired grooms accompanied by professional photographic teams were stopped at the garden gates by security guards. One party in three cars turned away on Saturday said they had no idea about the ban. They had been hoping to get a few pictures before the wedding banquet and now had to find another park. It took away some of the joy of the occasion, said the newlyweds. The groom, surnamed Wu, said he doesn't understand the ban as other parks allow shoots. Only one couple was allowed into the park yesterday morning, as the park believed their pictures were being taken by friends. Zhao, the park official, said commercial photographers behaved without regard for their surroundings in order to get the best shots. They climb into trees, walk on meadows closed to the public and shake blossom from trees to create "flower rain," she claimed. Moreover, brides killed many flowers and grasses when walking among them to get the best picture. Protect greenery Several photo studios have opened near the park over the past two years and brought dozens of couples to the park every day, which harmed the environment, said Zhao. "! The park was forced to launch the ban to protect the greenery for everyone," she added. The Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said it has begun an investigation into the ban. "It's not right for the commercial studios to treat the public garden as a free shooting location," said Liu Weiguang, an official with the bureau. "But a strict ban may not be a good policy. We need to strike a balance," he said. The bureau plans to hold a meeting to discuss the case and try to find a compromise. Shanghai banned unauthorized adverts and movies shoots in parks in 2003.

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