distillery district

The Distillery District just changed its controversial photo policies

The festive ambiance and heritage architecture of Toronto's Distillery District make it a top destination for tourists and locals alike around this time of year, and the perfect place to snap a holiday pic or ten for social media in front of the neighbourhood's iconic Christmas tree and glowing string lights.

What many may not have known is that the area treats itself much like an outdoor mall, with specific policies in place surrounding photography on the premises.

Up until recently, photo permits and written permission were required for anyone wanting to take photos or videos for anything aside from personal use, which included commercial shots, and also those used for "professional or semi-professional blogs or social media use," as per the district's own website.

Visitors hoping to take some portraits in the dreamy setting were subject to rules that required a $250 permit in advance if they could be considered at least a semi-professional influencer or blogger, even if the photos were not going to be used for commercial purposes.

But now, all of that has changed.

The historic district has updated its photo and video guidelines to clarify that neither permits nor permission are required for visitors taking "casual snapshots taken by visitors as memories, souvenirs, or for personal use to share on social media."

This also extends to social media content creators and influencers, who are now as of this week expressly welcome to capture and share their moments in the Distillery — hopefully using the hashtag #DistilleryTO — so long as the shoots do not involve a commercial aspect.

Elaborate shoots or weddings, engagements and the like will still require $250 permits before the fact, which can be purchased and booked online or in-person and tend to be in-demand. Those interested in commercial and other professional photography and videography on the site, meanwhile, will have to apply for a different type of permit at least two weeks in advance.

Drone use of any kind is still strictly prohibited, while permits only cover documenting exterior settings in the historic locale, and not inside retailers or other businesses (which are shuttered under lockdown at the moment anyways).

To make sure that a planned outing falls within the guidelines, anyone planning on having some sort of photoshoot should contact management at least 24 hours in advance, just in case. Also, be aware that the Distillery is the first outdoor space to mandate masks given how busy it can get.

Lead photo by

Clement Lo

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