What to have in mind when photographing somewhere

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by haris, Feb 23, 2007.

  1. haris

    haris Guest

    Hi,

    Since no particular forum part for law and like regarding photography I am posting this here.

    I was thinking about this when read about petition in UK because of proposed restriction of photography in UK.

    So to the point:

    Can we make some permanent thread in which will be written, by people who knows, what photographer can expect when try to shoot in particular town or country?

    For example, I have heard/read that there are problems if you try to photograph using tripod in Paris.

    So, things like that, what is legal and what is "common" in particular place.

    In my country (Bosnia and Hercegovina) for example, thare is no law which regulate this issue. There is only one article in criminal law which say that if you make image (photo or video) without autorisation (court order or like) of person in its (private) premices you will be legally responsabile. No law about can you make picture of for example policemen, or some building (only building with "no photography" sign in front is USA embassy), etc... But, I would not recommend to make photograph of policeman for example... You know we still have communist mentality in which institution is more important of individual right, and we loosing that mentality really slowly... So, even if you don't break law, you could find yourself in some unpleasent situation, and have problems untill you solve that issue... Saying that, I didn't have problems so far.

    Regards
     
  2. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    (only building with "no photography" sign in front is USA embassy)

    ouch!
     
  3. haris

    haris Guest

    Sorry, if anyone read this sentence wrongly, this is NOT anti USA statement, it is plain and simple pure fact. Please, do not read this sentence with "evil" meaning!!!

    Saying that, there are signs "no photography" INSIDE some building (let say inside some shopping mals), but not banning photography of building itself from public place.

    Just clarification.

    Thank you.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2007
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Tell that to a cell phone camera using person who can take a picture of the embassy without anyone knowing it!

    Posting a sign "No Photography" is a terrible waste of signage 'cause the "bad guys" will ignore it if they really need a picture of the embassy.

    Mostly the sign is their to give a false sense of security to those inside.

    Banning photography in public place is plainly stupid, and is only a political tool for those politician's who are too dumb to come up with real security solutions for the world's problems.
     
  5. haris

    haris Guest

    Please, no pollitical discussion, I planed this as help for photographers who wants to travel somewhere to have atleast basic facts needed to be known.

    Thank you.
     
  6. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    There is no law in the UK (currently) which bans photography from a public place other than a ban on photographing prisons. I think this is the only exception.

    Note the words 'from a public place' i.e. if it can be seen from a public place, it can be photographed.

    Steve.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Not quite. There are also 'Prohibited Places' within the meaning of the Official Secrets Act: some Ministry of Defence establishments.

    The ban on photographing prisons is a new one on me. Can you quote the legislation, by any chance?

    And has been said elsewhere, bans are meaningless anyway. Even the Victorians had 'detective' (concealed) cameras. All that any ban affects is well composed pics taken with a decent camera.

    But to answer Haris's question, there are all kinds of security goons and meddlers who take it upon themselves to enforce laws that don't exist. This happens everywhere. Your best bet in the UK, usually, is to demand that they call the police. If they ARE the police, demand to be taken to see a senior officer.

    The last time I was shooting 4x5 on a tripod in Paris, the gendarme waited until I had finished before strolling over and telling me I needed a permit. I went to try to get one and they had never heard of (or more likely, didn't care about) tripod permits.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. haris

    haris Guest

    Waht was my intention:

    To have thread in which photographer who wants to go into country, or even town XY can read:

    In XY country (town) is by law forbbiden to make photographs of this and that. Or this is not forbbiden by law, but it is not advisable to photograph this and that. Or, if you want to use tripod you can have problems or you have to have permission.

    So, not to go into discussion, but what is OK by law or what one can expect (what usually can happen) even if law don't say anything about it.

    For example: In XY town when I shooted handheld I didn't have problems, but when put tripod I was forbbiden to use it. And this is happens ofret/allways/rarelly in XY town, so be carefull for it...

    Things like that, that is small "photographer travelling advice booklet" if you like that expression.

    Regards
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Great Idea!!! A concise travel guide :smile: :smile:

    But is this group able to stay on topic and not reduce the thread to senseless chatter? :confused: :confused: :confused:

    Lets step it up to this challenge!!!

    If I wanted senseless chatter, I would have stayed married. :D :tongue: :D :tongue: :D
     
  10. Paul.

    Paul. Member

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    Fine idea Harris,

    My local village of Aberaeron is a Georgan sea port in Cardigan bay some 17 miles south of Aberystwyth in Wales. It is an extreamly prety village and is much photographed,so that other than setting up a tripod on a busy pavement you should have no trouble.
    It does get very busy during the summer with tourists and this year it celebrates its bi centenary[200 years old] so will be busier than usual but with normal curtosy am sure no one will have trouble photographing the area.

    There is much to see and do and all visitors are welcome. If you want to explore the area a minimum of 2 weeks should be allowed but a day trip is also very worthwhile.

    Hope this is what you were thinking of.
    Regards Paul.
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    This is exactly the problem. Specific information about one village in Wales is probably OK unless you run into the local looney on his day out. Otherwise, it's all but worthless. You just can't tell. In India, for example, you are theoretically forbidden to photograph (among other things) railway stations and bridges. The chance of being nicked for either is roughly zero.

    In the UK you can photograph just about anything from anywhere that is open to the public. Depending on where you are, your legal rights may be respected or someone may try to stop you or call the police.

    Sorry, Haris, but I really believe that there is not much that people can tell you RELIABLY about most major countries -- as witness my Paris story. Try to avoid offending everyone, and obey every imaginary law, and you'll never take a picture anywhere. Be reasonable, and you'll run into problems almost nowhere. For example, there are few restrictions in Bulgaria -- but take pictures across the river to Serbia and if the police see you, they will politely but firmly discourage you. Smile, nod and it's OK -- though we were stopped by the police 6 times in one day as we drove down the river, and once about 10 km from it (I think that was just because he was bored), but we were never questioned at any other time.

    This is not 'senseless chatter' -- it's information, based on wide experience, from someone who travels a lot, shoots a lot, and just doesn't worry too much about it for the reasons given above. Too much depends on who sees you and how they're feeling that day.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I can give you another example of the absolute capriciousness of law enforcement where travel photography is concerned. Jim Collum, who posts on this site, photographed the temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia with a 4x5 camera and Betterlight scanning back. This combination of course had to be on a tripod. To the best of my knowledge, he neither acquired the requisite permit nor did he run into trouble for not having it. Another photographer friend of mine, Garrie Maguire from Australia, was doing essentially the same thing, minus the scanning back. The authorities finally caught up to him after about four days of shooting and put the kibbosh on his plans. When I went, I shot everything in 35mm and either handheld or on a monopod, and had no issues whatsoever. I saw lots of people using "amateur" cameras on tripods and no negative backlash. If you are looking for an over-broad general principle, if you are shooting with a large format camera, using gear that looks "Professional", you are more likely to get hassled than someone using "non-professional" gear. This is more likely to happen in developing/third-world nations, where they are counting on foreign tourist dollars to supplement their coffers. Your best bet is to check with a local photographer before going to that place if you can, and see what experience they have of shooting there.
     
  13. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    FYI - you may photograph just about anywhere in New Zealand without problems. *
    To some perhaps we could probably be a little more attentive to the threat of the intrepid travel snapper but actually I think most here just don't worry about it. As an example, I once wandered up the steps of parliament, pushed my camera against the window and photographed the hallowed, marble halls lit by the night lights at two in the morning, just because I felt like it at the time.

    When it comes to photographing people, regular western culture courtesy will go a long way. We're a little more sensitive than Izmirians and a lot less sensitive than Parisians.

    (* this magnanimous - or rather degage - outlook seems to be changing when it comes to the commercial arm of Maori culture).
     
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  15. I read that too, so when I traveled to Paris last october/november I asked for permission to the Police Prefecture and l'Hotel de Ville. The Police Prefecture e-mailed me saying I didn't need permission if I was not going to make profit from the photos.

    In fact, as far as I know, you're allowed to use ONE a tripod in the street, two cameras and a maximum of three people (technicians) without permission. The law says it, as I was informed by the Hotel de Ville "filming department".

    But you need it to shoot in the gardens, so I asked the Hotel de Ville "Gardens department" for permission. No problem, as many gardens as I want for more than three months.

    In fact I went to Paris with a bunch of permissions (street, gardens, Pere Lachaise cementery, Pasteur Institute a lot for churches and one château) and nobody asked me for one, unless the Pasteur Institute, they opened the musseum in the morning for me, a private visit :smile: Some policeman saw me shooting with tripod near Notre Dame, Saint Germain des Pres and Trocadero and they didn't disturbed me.

    After one month asking for permission everywhere... it rained almost all the week, I discovered my lightmeter was not working correctly and the lab ruined the slides underdeveloping them...

    BTW, you don't need permission in Spain to use a tripod in the street..
     
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  16. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    In Japan, watch out Japanese mafia (Yakuza) and gangsters. They are everywhere, and so are their offices and their territories. For example, in some areas of Shinjuku district in Tokyo, if you walk around with your camera even during the day, you may be harrassed and/or threatened by some of these types, and you really have to walk away. The police won't be much of a help for this kind of trouble. In other cities, such as Osaka, Kobe, Yokohama, Nagoya, etc, it's the same story when it happens.

    I personally have never experienced this, but every once in a while I hear some stories from other photographers. But usually you don't have to worry about this sort of thing and you can sleep well at night.
     
  17. haris

    haris Guest

    Yes, I guess it is worthless... I know you can't avoid individual issues which are exception from rules, I thought it would be nice for people to have general guide, what is generally OK or NO, NO, and for the individual issues, well, life is unpredictible...

    But, if it is worthless, what the heck, what ever will be, will be...

    Regards
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    No. It's just something I heard which I assumed to be true! If you dispute this I would rather believe you than trust what I thought was true.

    On the Isle of Wight, we have three prisons all in the same town. My father's cycling club used to regularly meet outside one of these prisons for the start of their weekly rides and almost without fail, the police would turn up to see what was going on.

    You are of course correct about MOD property. I think you are now allowed to photograph in the public areas of Portsmouth dockyard where HMS Victory and HMS warrior are based but for many years there were prominent 'Photography Prohibited' signs around Victory. However, this isn't a free public space, it is essentially private property which you pay an admission fee to gain access to so they can allow or ban photography as they wish.

    Steve.
     
  19. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I went to the tomb of Napoleon and passed the entrance and nodded my head to the man in uniform and he nodded back and smiled. I had my camera on my tripod and over the shoulder. I went to the garden area and setup the tripod on the gravel walkway. I had a beautiful view of the statue of Mansard and the Eiffel tower in the back ground. A respected Architect and the Eiffel tower, what could have been the most wonderful photograph, but it was not to be. Just as I was to release the shutter the man stepped in front of me and said, "kjfiouiweuds ierewidsj iwe iuiiji jirui". I don't speak that version of French but I was shocked. No photograph.

    If you get a chance to go there it's a beautiful garden with a great statue of Mansard with the Eiffel tower in the back ground. For those who don't know Mansard is named after the roof projections on slanted roofs that he designed, seen and done all over the world. I was excited to see the statue because I designed and built my two story garage / studio / darkroom / shop.

    If I had seen a sign with the "NO" photo in it I would have just put the camera away or gone some where else. I couldn't believe that he let me get all the way setup then stepped in.

    Later that day we went to the Rodin Sculpture garden, I didn't bring any cameras. I sat and looked at "The Thinker" and asked him why I couldn't get a picture of Mansard. I limited my tripod use to what I thought were appropriate places.

    It's interesting to note that there were numerous no photo signs in the Louvre but the flashes were going off like mad.

    What I need is a "quick drop leg tripod" and work to be more stealthy in my operation. A picture of the statue of Mansard and the Eiffel are not exactly national secrets.

    I have taken photographs all over Washington DC and New York including Ground Zero and never had a problem.
     
  20. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That sounds like Scottish French!

    Steve.
     
  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I know this link has been posted before but it is a good indication of the UK law: http://www.sirimo.co.uk/media/UKPhotographersRights.pdf

    I'm sure there are other versions for other countries. Might be a good idea to print it out and keep it in your camera bag just in case.

    Steve.
     
  22. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Two more examples of going to the same place twice and having different reactions to tripods: the Kremlin of Moscow (two visits days apart) and Old Goa (two visits years apart). Old Goa wouldn't even allow monopods but they didn't mind when we rested our cameras on museum display cases, tombs or walls...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  23. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    My experience is the enforcement of 'laws' - real or otherwise - has been completely random. I go to places with the assumption anything public can be photographed. I always seek if I need a permit ahead of time and usually get it.

    I've photographed public places without incident where others have been stopped or questioned and vice versa. Sometimes I've gone back to places where I have stopped and had no hassles what so ever.

    Do I think about the 'laws' when I photograph? Not really.

    I agree that posting specifics - perceived or real - of specifc places is kind of nice to know. What disturbs me is the 'photography is my right, so I'm going to photograph it, no matter what' attitude. I can't remember where I was but I remember this guy with a 4x5 arguing with a monk in Thailand why he had the 'right' to photograph a temple. He probably did, but he was wrong anyway - know what I mean?

    Regards, Art.
     
  24. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Often, a useful response is the 'sturdy answer' praised by the late Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning: "Who says I can't?"

    In the absence of a satisfactory answer -- which can include, as Art suggests, common decency -- the answer is that you can...

    Alas, this attitude has all but vanished from today's Britain -- as has the legal support offered by the likes of Lord Denning.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  25. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Nope its danish and means
    "you'll get a better pic after nightfall when the lights are on"
    :D
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  26. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    International law links can be found in the "Links" and tips for travellers in the Forums.