Elements 圓方- The Unfriendly Shopping Mall for Photographers


Elements(圓方) the newest shopping mall in Hong Kong, located above the Kowloon Station, recently opened on 1st Oct 2007, the Chinese National Day. It is a upmarket mall with many shops, restaurants and recreational facilities like multiplex cinema and an ice rink.

I was there a few days after it opened. As a new and upmarket mall, of course I was keen to take photos. Although, in some countries, shopping malls do not allow photography inside. However, the norm in Hong Kong is that, practically all shopping malls allow photography. Well, that is until the arrival of Elements. After I have taken some photographs, a staff of the mall came up to me while I was taking photograph of a structure inside of the mall. He asked me what I was using the photographs for. I told him that I was a photo enthusiast and the photos I took were for my personal use. He told me that I was not allowed to take photographs inside the mall if the photos did not have any people in them. However, it would be OK to take photos inside the mall if i include people I know like friends or family. the reason for this rule was because they were afraid that their “competitor” may come to the mall to take photos and try to copy them!

Now, that is the most absurd and ridiculous reason I have heard of. If they were so afraid of competitors trying to photograph and copy their design, they should just completely ban photography altogether. Anyoen could simply ask someone to stand in front of the camera and still shoot everywhere inside the mall and copy any design they want.

Are they simply paranoid, naive or stupid? The mind boggles…… The last time I have shot and posted a blog article on a shopping mall in Hong Kong, the blog article achieved top hit status at the time amongst my blog articles. That particular mall received positive reactions from readers of my blog.

I have actually taken some photos of Elements before I was told to stop and some of them were quite good. However, I am not going to post them on my blog. I will neither endorse or help to promote Elements here. They maybe paranoid enough to think that by posting photographs of Elements here I maybe giving away trade secrets to their competitors.

Sorry Elements, you are really not that good and do not deserve to have your photos posted here. I won’t expose you to the 170,000+ visitors who have visited this blog which I started less than 4 months ago.


17 thoughts on “Elements 圓方- The Unfriendly Shopping Mall for Photographers

  1. I can understand how you feel as I had similar experience when I was taking photos out of a cafe I liked.

    The boss of that cafe said something like the “Elements” staff did. He’s concerned the competitors wanted to copy the design of his shop. Of course thats bullshit. There’s simply no way u can stop the others copying ur ideas nowadays. But u can choose to welcome the photographers who could help to bring positive feedbacks on ur products.

  2. I totally agree. There is a mall nearby my place and it is a major tourist attraction because of its upscale status. I was ordered not to take photos inside. So, I understand your feelings.

    It’s totally their loss. Photographers with great images can only help advertise for the malls.

  3. same here………….
    ridiculous isn’t it?
    I was once stop by a security guard in a train station and told me not to take photo of the train because the logo is copyrighted????
    unbelievable !

  4. Hi Roland,

    I had my share of being shown the palm when I was strolling along Fashion Walk (?) and a guy at Starbucks came outside to tell me to stop taking pictures. I was going to shoot the row of shops outside leading to the following image and since he said no, I moved next door to Armani Exchange and got this instead.


    Fearing that their competitors getting a hold of the photo you shoot is one of the oldest and now lamenest excuses to use today. I wondered if at the grand opening/press conference any reporters were warned against taking pictures—I would like to see how the media would react to such absurdity.

    May their business thrive in such disorganised array (their logo should be round but it isn’t so the chi is interrupted and worse, the “rings” are not stacked properly. 🙂

  5. Ha Ha,

    This is rather typical in Hong Kong, Landlords are kings, they set up stupid rules, tenants have to pay high rental and they do not treat you like customers. Regardless high end shopping mall like Elements, even local shopping malls owned by big land developers, unfair demands have to be met. Oh well…..In no ways I can in favor with them.

    Why fear of competitions, one should welcome and face the challenge instead. This shows how naitive and imature they can be?


  6. Incidentally I visited this new mall today (31 Oct). It reflects the highest standard achieved in shopping mall design in Hong Kong. It has been almost filled by the best shops/retailers in Hong Kong. The best installation of it is the well-populated toilets. MTR deserved respect on this issue since keeping toilets in proper condition is a fearmost nightmare for its executives. Its nice that there is not food court, no Mac, no Cafe de Coral & KFC, etc (if not open yet). My only affordable shops such as 7-11 and Mac are located just down under the established Kowloon Station shopping areas. OK, without out-dated bullet/panorama lifts and stacking escalators, it is spacious with above-average architectural concepts. It is a nice spot to take photos especially the location will later be polluted with extra guiding signages, crowds, banners and Christmas decorations, just to mention some.

  7. Hi Larry,

    I do not dispute that Elements is a mall with good design/standard, and yes, it would have been a nice spot to take photos. But the point is that, they don’t allow photography and for a really stupid reason.

  8. well, it is their disgretion who and what to allow in their mall. its theirs anyway.

    would you just let anyone take pictures of the inside of your house of backyard? they have their reasons… you will too.

  9. Hi disagree,

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and of course you can think whatever you want.

    But the point you missed about the whole thing was that they did not allow photography if you were taking photograph of the mall itself without anyone that posing in the photo. They would allow photography, so long as there was someone posing in the photo, and their reason was that if you took photo of the mall without someone posing in it, then you could be a spy from a competitor taking photos and trying to copy their mall. Now if I were a spy, I could easily get someone to pose in the shot and I could still take photos of everything in the mall and copy all their design. This is simply one of the most absurd and illogical reasons I have heard. If they were so afraid of competitors trying to copy them, they should just simply ban photography all together, and I would have more respect for them.

  10. I live in Los Anglese and visit Hong Kong occasionally as a tourist. I have only been told not to take pictures at 2 Hong Kong malls, the Dragon Centre at Sham Shui Po and the Kai Tin Shopping Center in Lam Tin, both second tier malls. The usual reason given is that the tenants do not want to show their competitors their promotional decorations and prices.
    I was at the Elements on March 7 this year with my Canon 20D & 10-22mm hanging around my neck. I took lots of pictures inside the mall and around the MTR station. No body stopped me.
    Here is one of them:

  11. Well it happened to me last week. I was taking pics of my 17 month son running around and I was asked not to do that which I found very odd as I was in no way being competitor trying to copy their designs

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