View Full Version : Legalities of photographing historic sites
04-19-2007, 04:53 PM
This has come up in relation to our day out at Clonmacnoise but does anyone know the legalities of photographing historic sites in Ireland?
The Clonmacnoise visitor centre said permission is required from the Office of Public Works to sell any images of the site.
Does this apply to all historic sites?
Are all historic sites under the control of the OPW?
Are there any sites that you would be forbidden to photograph in the first place?
I need to check this out and plan to ring the OPW but I thought I would start here to see if any members have experience of this sort of thing. Maybe Sile has come across this issue during her tours?
04-19-2007, 05:56 PM
Were you following this thread on photoireland??
I hope their fee isn't much...
Now you do mostly fine art stuff, right, and I don't think fine art would be considered "commercial" but to be honest, I'm not sure on that. To resell as stock, yes, a property release always required.
Let me know what you find out. I'm off travelling (starting Monday) for the next two weeks but I'd be happy to try and call and find out the answer before I go, if you like.
Peter, This is of course something we had to check out for other sites...
Kilkenny for example has so many historic buildings, and is the first stop outside of Dublin so we contacted Fáilte Ireland, who confirmed that there is no restriction on photographing building exteriors. However some OPW sites (Kilkenny castle for example) don't permit photography inside.
Not all buildings in Ireland are under OPW control, but they do have about over 750 sites (see www.heritageireland.ie). From the perspective of our tours we don't ask if the customers will be selling the images, the majority of people come from camera clubs and are doing so for their own use.
Technically Clonmacnoise could be in a tour of ireland for the purpose of taking photos, we can't control what's done with the photos, as far we're concerned they're for personal use.
To be honest, it's something that would be nigh on impossible to police. How many shots are taken in trinity every day/year, how do they check if they are sold?
04-19-2007, 07:33 PM
You are talking about a very grey area.
Although not Ireland, but in England I was with Fay Godwin back in the 1980's on a workshop, we were all making images at Chatsworth, a British Stately home, she shot one of her well known images, it was of a statue of a lion, just outside a tea room.
She'd paid to enter just like the rest of us, it never stopped her using & publishing the image for exhibition or in a couple of books
She had no problem with this image and on my wall is another well known image also taken a year or so earlier at Chatsworth by Peter Cattrell of a Giant Hogweed.
I photograph historic sites in various parts of Europe and where there is a will there's always a way.
04-19-2007, 11:34 PM
NOT IRELAND, but in Chester while we were taking the walking tour of the city wall, the guide confided to us that so many Yanks had taken photos of the clock tower, the city council was convined that every home in the US had a least one photo of the clock tower on the living room wall. :o
04-20-2007, 03:43 AM
Ireland is completely different to the UK in this area.
If the shot you take is of a OPW property and you are on public ground, there is never an issue.
The OPW are fairly under funded and they do like to avail of a bit of extra income from photography, and if you are profiting from the shot on their property then thats reasonable I think.
I did a fashion shoot in front of an OPW country house one time and the officials came out to see what the fuss was [model, makeup artist, hair, etc all around]
They asked if it was a commercial shoot and if I'd permission. I said that I didnt have permission and that I wasnt contracted for the photos, that they might be published later though. I said in that case I would contact them and pay them whatever fee was due and also gave them my contact info. They then asked me if i needed any help to just ask and were very polite.
I've read horror stories from a few places around the world but thankfully Ireland has not come down to this level.
I remember a few years ago taking traffic trails at dusk of a motorway sliproad. I standing in a roundabout and was thinking I might get into trouble for this when the next thing I hear a siren and then see a blue flashing light heading my way and a big police 4x4 pulls over and the cops ask what i'm doing. I tell him about the traffic trails and he then says "fair enough", "is that a hasselblad?" I said yes and he then says it looks just like a radar trap, starts laughing manically and drives off and waves.
Prisions, courts, schools, playgrounds and inside shopping centres are the only places I think you would be hassled.
Historic sites depend on tourism and what tourist doesnt bring a camera?
04-20-2007, 05:36 AM
Ireland is completely different to the UK in this area.
I have heard and read reports of the National Trust in UK being really difficult, I it experienced once at a demense outside Manchester. I was visiting with my family and had gone there for a walk, as usual I had a camera slung over my shoulder. As we approach the stately home I was about to take a shot of my wife and daugther only to be approached by a "jobs worth" telling me I could not take photographs of the building without written permission. I explained is was a simple family snapshot but he wasn't interested. Not exactly the way to encourage tourists!
I agree in Ireland things are much more sensible, especially if taking the shot from a public road. Some sites (as Síle mentioned) like Kilkenny castle have a clear not indoor photograph policy, which is understandable. There are, as far as I know, some restrictions in relation to taking photographs of a private property, it normally means you would need to get a release from the person living in the house. I came across that some years ago, my wife is from Cork and I thought it might be nice to get her a framed print of the house she grew up in. As I was very busy in my day job I contacted a photographer in Cork to commission him to get the shot, however he refused without a signed release and would not even try get the release for me.
04-20-2007, 07:56 AM
I have heard and read reports of the National Trust in UK being really difficult, I it experienced once at a demense outside Manchester. I was visiting with my family and had gone there for a walk, as usual I had a camera slung over my shoulder. As we approach the stately home I was about to take a shot of my wife and daugther only to be approached by a "jobs worth" telling me I could not take photographs of the building without written permission. I explained is was a simple family snapshot but he wasn't interested. Not exactly the way to encourage tourists!David
He was (almost certainly) wrong. Photography outside the National Trust houses is not generally a problem: I've done it many, many times with and without a tripod (e.g. here (http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=8964&cat=500&ppuser=2807) and [/URL][URL="http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=19924&cat=500&ppuser=2807"]here (http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=19924&cat=500&ppuser=2807%29) ) - the first of those was inside Lacock Abbey's cloisters so it would be a bit ironic if they were to prevent photography there ;) (as the former home of William Henry Fox Talbot, it has the only room inside an NT house where you CAN use a camera whenever you like). Special cases aside, I have taken many shots of doors, wall sculptures and other exterior details without anyone being unhelpful. Certainly, the law allows you to photograph anything you like, except for obvious no-no's like prisons and other "Prohibited Places" (usually military) from the public highway.
Inside the houses however, photography is prohibited. The NT rely heavily on volunteers, some of whom seem to consider that the houses belong to them, personally... Although I think there has been an attempt in the last 10 years or so to wean out this attitude and become more "user-friendly", I do not doubt for a second that some of the "old guard" still exist (in fact I came across one in a NT car park about 2 years ago and got in to a big argument (non-photographic) over nothing very much (which was quite fun really: seeing how many shades of red he could go through).
Anyway, this has nothing to do with the OP, but I didn't want to leave people discouraged from shooting on NT property as the grounds can be highly photogenic and of historical significance. If taking a tripod go mid-week out of season and the jobsworths will not be able to complain that people might trip over it...
Have fun, Bob.
04-20-2007, 10:34 AM
Thanks to all of you, its a little clearer to me now.
04-20-2007, 01:05 PM
Bob. Not much help to our friends from the Republic but just to add that I believe the NT have turned funny about shots taken on their property of their property which have been destined for sale. I think AP ran an article about it a few months ago.
Like you I have never had an issue actually taking photos but have never used a tripod so was probably assumed to be an amateur doing it for my own pleasure.
Unless you had a site or gallery full of NT shots and were on the radar of an NT official who knew of your existence, I'd think the chances of the NT mounting a case would be very slim.
05-15-2007, 04:18 AM
I believe if you are selling "art prints" you will not have any problems from the Heritage folks. If you try to sell images for "commercial use", however, you can have big problems.
Plenty of photographers worldwide have sold images from Kylemore and other Irish sites as fine prints without raising any eyebrows. If, however, you want to do a shot for Guinness, then there's going to be some discussion.
I think it all comes down to the difference between "fine art" and "commercial." I shot at many sites with tripods, large format, etc., and was never asked about it by anyone.