“No Photography Allowed”

Posted on March 29, 2012 by Jon Arnold

This is a little off the topic of camera sims, but it’s something I feel everyone with a camera should think about: your rights as a photographer.

Battle at the Alamo

Last week I visited the Alamo in San Antonio Texas. When I took a picture inside one of the old buildings, I was immediately reprimanded by a docent who told me that photography was not allowed. I asked what would happen if I chose to ignore that rule, and he said he’d call security and have me forcibly removed from the premises. Sheesh. Take a pill, dude.

A paranoid store owner

A couple months ago, I was walking downtown in Palm Springs California, where I saw a fellow pedestrian admiring some dishes displayed inside a storefront window. He took out his camera, snapped a photo, and the shop door flew open. “Hey! My dishes are copyrighted, and you can’t take pictures of them!” said the man who I assumed to be the storeowner. The flustered pedestrian apologized and quickly put away his camera.

Overzealous security guards

A couple years ago, while strolling downtown Indianapolis Indiana, and taking shots of building exteriors, I was stopped by a security guard who demanded to know who I was, what I was doing, and then informed me that he needed to inspect my photos. Though he didn’t use these words, I very much felt “detained” and “released.”

One more: A few years ago, I was taking photos of some friends as we walked through a shopping mall. Not only was I stopped and questioned by security, they told me I had to delete the photos I had been taking. Not knowing I had a choice, I naively complied.

Utter madness

Now, let those stories sink in for a second: Forcible removals from public places. Harassment from store owners. Detention by security guards. Intimidation to delete one’s data.

And for what? Causing a disturbance? Endangering the public? Damaging property?

Nope. Just taking a photo.

Taking…a photo. (No matter how many times I repeat it to myself, I can’t make it make sense.)

So what does the law say?

I’m no legal expert, but the internet research I’ve done so far on this topic reveals the following:

  • The shop owner who scolded the guy for taking photos of his precious plates was completely out of line. No one – not storeowners or even the police – can prevent you from taking photos of whatever you want from a public place. Regarding the storeowner’s copyright cry, yes, there are laws against publishing photos of copyrighted works, not taking photos for private use.
  • The security guard who stopped me while I was taking photos of downtown Indianapolis was just doing his job by being paranoid. But he wasn’t a police officer, so I had no legal obligation to give him any information, to let him detained me, or show my photos to him.
  • The security guard at the mall also had no right to detain me, and certainly no right to make me delete my photos (apparently, even the police need a court order to do that.) Even though a shopping mall is private property, it’s open to the public so most private property rules go out the window. The photos I took that day were nothing special, but I am still filled with regret for letting a mall cop bend me over like that.
  • I’m not sure about the Alamo situation, and museums in general seem to be a big “grey area.” Are they private or public property? Do they have a legal right to ban photography? I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.

Photographers’ rights can unfortunately be a murky and contentious issue, and I recognize that common sense and decency play as big of a role as any law. Anyone can take photos of kids at a public playground without getting their parents’ permission, for example. Illegal? No. Creepy? Yes…don’t do it.

Educate yourself

My point here, dear reader, is that you educate yourself on what you can and can’t do with your camera. Not every battle is worth fighting, but how you exercise or forgo your civil liberties should be an informed choice that you make, not a rent-a-cop.

What about you? Have you ever been unfairly harassed for taking photos? What about all you folks from outside the US?…what are the photography laws in your country?

I would love to hear your stories in the comments below…

Further reading:

  • http://twitter.com/hattemer Jennifer Hattemer

    Great Post today. What about photography in churches?

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      Thanks Jennifer. If I had to guess, I would guess that churches are considered private property and, as such, they CAN have a “no photos” policy in place that you would have to honor. Like with all private property however, all they can do is tell you to stop (they can’t detain you or confiscate your equipment.) Also, you’d still be free to shoot whatever you could see while standing on public property (such as a sidewalk).

      • awparsons

        I was stopped from taking pictures in a place that had jewelry, etc. I’m not sure if it had museum status or not. I have had the experience where showing a ten dollar bill made the difference of whether or not I could be escorted to take pictures from the roof of a building or not.

        • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

          ha…”ten dollar bill”…love it. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Theodore-Resnick/683333650 Theodore Resnick

    I too have been stopped for taking photos in the Alamo and museums, but because of using a flash. Natural light photos were permitted. Recently, I viewed a very extensive and expensive display of Gold through out the ages and was not permitted to take photos. This was a private display, but in a public museum. I guess you have to use some logic and discretion before you shoot. Jokingly, with a camera or whatever.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      Hi Theodore, I can understand banning flash photography because it can be a distraction to others, so I take no issue with that. But I think these places are overstepping their perceived authority by banning photography outright.

      • http://barbarashallue.typepad.com/ Barbara

        I bet the ‘no photography’ rule was put into affect when you would have to use flash to photograph anything in the Alamo, which could damage some of the items, and it just hasn’t been updated. I’ve taken plenty outside of the Alamo. The docents probably don’t even know why they have the rule, they just want to be sure they enforce it!

        • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

          Barbara, yes, I was allowed to take photos outside, but the “rule” was clear inside the buildings: photography of any kind was prohibited. I spoke with 4 different docents and they all gave me slightly different rationales for it.

  • http://twitter.com/Pictovore Amazzal Abderrahman

    Nice post

  • Anonymous

    I have been stopped and questioned at a roadside because I was parked nearby. I was also stopped from photographing a barn because there was a property battle dispute over it and I was held suspect. I explained my intention in the second case and was allowed a shot, but in the first, I was bullied and harrassed and left.
    I have been stopped in a museum before, but they had stated or posted that photography was not allowed.

  • Eli Renner

    The museum can make whatever rules they want, and they can choose to ask you to leave if you break those rules. It’s not really a legal issue, per se. But, if you don’t leave when they ask you, I don’t think they can force you to leave. I think they would need to call the police and convince them to remove you. They cannot take your gear or force you to delete any images without a court order – that’s your property and your rights trump theirs. You’re right on all the other issues as well. It kinda comes down to “how bad do I want to win a pissing contest” though, for me. If you really wanted to stick to your rights, you could do it, and might be totally justified, BUT, you might have to go all the way to court to prove it. Who needs that noise? Except maybe an iOS app developer looking to spread the word about his app by any means necessary ;-)

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      Haha…yes, I guess I was screaming “BUY MY APP!” so maybe that’s what the problem was. :) But excellent point about the pissing contest, and that’s why I put my camera away; I was there to see the Alamo. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel violated, which sort of put a damper on my visit.

  • http://blog.jimgrey.net/ Jim

    I blogged about this just the other day. http://blog.jimgrey.net/2012/03/12/camera-in-hand-trying-to-act-inconspicuous/.

    I don’t want to get into fights with anyone over photography. Even if a rent-a-cop hassles me, my response is simply to move on. But if they ask to see my photos or tell me to delete them, they will get a flat no.

  • Peter S.

    Really interesting read! I’ve been wanting to get into street photography, and these are good things to keep in mind.
    I have been thinking about museums. I understand no flash, because it is ridiculously distracting and can damage the work. I believe most artwork is licensed by collections, families, or other associations. Would I want people taking photos of a photograph I donated to a museum? (heh, I wish)

    But the basic principle is, if you are in a public place, there is pretty much nothing they can do. The only thing I was thinking: (in the US) is their some sort of sheet on could print out, with reference to the laws of that protect photography? That would be a handy accessory for pesky security guards.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      Peter, there is an excellent printable PDF at http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm that has exactly what you’re describing.

      • Peter S.

        Thanks a lot!

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Sadly, much of the “rights” we experience and respect have been interpreted by case law and common law, so a simple list of legislation itself would not encompass everything that informs so-called authorities on how to behave towards photographers.

      For instance, the US Constitution 1st Amendment states, “… make no law prohibiting freedom of speech …”, but no Police person understands that “photography” is “speech” as decided and resolved in US Supreme Court cases hundreds of years ago at the invention and popularity of photography.

      International Copyright agreements are complex and way over the head of mall cops.

      Mall cop: “… you can’t photograph here …”

      Photographer: “… here, read this 800-page tomb and get back to me when you understand how wrong you are …”

      However, a Photo Rights Wiki would be a great idea to help us collect all the relevant information in one place, even if it might eventually contain thousands of reference pages covering dozens of countries.


  • Dave

    For those looking for it, you can find a Photographer’s Rights card from an Attorney’s site here: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

  • david schaff

    I too was stopped from taking pictures of our exchange students in a local shopping mall, luckily i had no need for more. Security was rather rude about it, I Did comply as not to start an incident. good to know now just what the rules are now thanks to the reference articles.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RobertBrownEPTX Robert Brown

      What you’re looking at in malls is the copywrite/trademark of the store logos. Yes that is weird, but they do have the right not to have their logos placed into anything unwaranted which is why the malls protect all of their clients. Whether or not a particular store doesn’t mind.

      • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

        Copyright infringement is REPUBLISHING without the copyright owner’s permission.

        Trademark infringement is USING someone else’s trademark without the trademark owner’s permission.

        Bother are the jurisdiction of the copyright or trademark owners to enforce, going to COURT after an unresolved personal disagreement with whomever they accuse of infringement, but neither are the jurisdiction of mall cops, and so on, to enforce.

        And, neither has anything to do with photography, with TAKING a photograph.

        Copyright and trademark prohibitions against taking photographs is bogus, fallacious, and no photographer should stand for it.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting stuff. I’m not a lawyer, but I have an opinion…
    On the Alamo, we would need to know who owns it, etc., but it is likely “just like a mall”, legally: Public, but privately owned, and they make the rules.
    On the shop owner: Photopgraphing a store front and shop window from a public vantage point is clearly legal. Photographing a “work of art”, however can very well be copyright infringement. I think that it is not the act of later publishing it that consitutes infringement, but the act of photographing it. If someone, from a public area, through a window, would take a full frame photo of an oil painting or other piece of art, I would say (not being a lawyer) it is pretty clearly copyright infringement, whether done in a public place for private use or not.
    So depending if the plate is considered a piece of art, how close-up the shot was and other details determine this case. It could be, it could not be.
    Beyond that, I agree with the poster “how bad a pissing match do you want”? Be nice, be kind, ask for permission and if you don’t get it find another subject. That’s my personal approach.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      Yeah I think that’s the right approach. I’m going to look into your oil painting example…that intrigues me. But I still fail to see how the act of taking a photo can constitute copyright infringement. “Infringement” implies harm, and how does that harm the artist? It seems like any harm comes from what one does with the photo. But yeah, I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know. :) I’ll report back if I find out anything definitive from an actual legal professional.

    • Randy Hotz

      The Alamo is owned by the State of Texas, administered by The Daughters of The Republic of Texas, and is not a mall. It is an historic shrine to Texans and revered as such.

      • sandrogisler

        Interesting! First, by comparing the Alamo to a mall, I didn’t refer to its cultural value or such, just to how it would be viewed in terms of being a public place; both the Alamo and a mall are private properties open to the public, but their use and value certainly differs widely.

        But let’s dig a bit deeper, and let’s say your mission in life is to change that “NO photography” policy at the Alamo:
        The State of Texas is the owner, the Daughters of the Republic are the administrator. A quick search yields that Texas passed a law in 1905 that “provided for the purchase, care and preservation” of the Alamo. The law says that “the Governor shall deliver the property [...] to the custody and care of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, to be maintained by them in good order and repair […] as a sacred memorial to the heroes […]” and so on. So State law did not explicitly allow or prohibit photography (no surprise in 1905), but note the wording “maintained in good order” and “sacred memorial”.
        Next, we review the policies of the Daughters of the Republic. They are probably private, at any rate, I didn’t find them. But on the Alamo website, in the FAQ (http://www.thealamo.org/visitors/faq.php#eighteen), they state “The Alamo, like many other museums, asks patrons to not photograph exhibits for several reasons. Repeated exposures to camera flashes fade certain types of artifacts. Additionally, the Alamo church has been designated a shrine by the State of Texas and as such is a place of reverence and reflection.”
        So that is the rule, and that is their explanation. Now you can say flash is not that bad and question why you shouldn’t photograph at a place of reference, but it does not matter: They administer it, and they make the rules. Moreover, most would probably agree that while their rule is very strict, it is in line with their assignment to care for and preserve a sacred memorial.
        If you would want to change that you could appeal to their board, but they have no obligation to listen to you; you could try to join their board and build a majority; or you could appeal to the Texas legislature that they amend the law so that e.g. “the Alamo is preserved, but non-flash photography must be permitted”. Given the sacredness of the Alamo, you probably won’t find a majority for any of this…

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Earlier, “… Photographing a “work of art”, however can very well be copyright infringement. I think that it is not the act of later publishing it that constitutes infringement, but the act of photographing it. If someone, from a public area, through a window, would take a full frame photo of an oil painting or other piece of art, I would say (not being a lawyer) it is pretty clearly copyright infringement, whether done in a public place for private use or not …”

      A PAINTING, copyrighted?

      Infringed by a PHOTOGRAPH?


      How, pray tell, does one make a copy using a different medium, like a photo of a painting?

      And how, pray tell, does any copyright owner prohibit such copying if their original is on public display?

      Finally, as I mentioned before, no one knows what a photographer has photographed, if anything at all, unless the photographer voluntarily makes a copy of their own copyright latent image to share with their accuser.

      For me, that ain’t gonna happen without a court order and payment for the copy — even from a judge, who has no power to compel copies being made against the copyright owner’s will.

      And me being the photographer, I own my own copyright over my own image regardless of what someone thinks I may have photographed, period — they’ll never know.

      • sandrogisler

        Peter, photographing a painting is sometimes copyright infringement, but not always. A painting can certainly be covered by copyright, it is a two-dimensional artwork. Artwork does not lose its copyright because it is on public display.
        A good source that explains the situation is http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/documents/ip_photography.htm and it is titled “Legal Pitfalls in Taking or Using Photographs of Copyright Material, Trademarks and People”. Among other things, it says “…photographing a copyright work is considered a way of reproducing the work, and this is an act which the copyright owner has the exclusive right to do…” You can also read the section “Taking photos of copyright works in public places”

  • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

    Jim, good write up. Your experiences sound very similar to mine. I think your strategy of moving on when hassled but giving a flat no when they try to cross THAT line is a balanced approach. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lynn Hoffman

    Thanks Jon for doing the research and posting this info! These are all things I often wonder about. And I’m curious about the museums and historical places, as those are definitely great photo ops that are hard to resist … my first thought would be that they are public and therefore open to be photographed … looking forward to hearing what you find out about that!

    • http://www.facebook.com/RobertBrownEPTX Robert Brown

      Museums and Historical Places may be public places, but if you have to pay to enter then it is not a public place. In El Paso at the El Paso Museum of Art they allow some photography, but that is restricted to the actual art they own. They protect the copywrited art work that is not owned by them and owned by someone else and is showing in their museum. Flash photography is not permited though for the obvious reason dealing with art and flash.

      • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

        Earlier “… Flash photography is not permitted though for the obvious reason dealing with art and flash. …”

        It’s NOT obvious to me, and not enunciated in writing anywhere as to why — can you illuminate us, so to speak?

        • Anonymous

          It’s been cited earlier in the thread: Flash is bad for the pigments in the art. Not to mention a disturbance to others viewing the art. You complain yourself over cell phone use and loud children—yet you can’t cede that flash is just as equally rude?


          • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

            [1] Earlier, someone wrote: “… Flash photography is not permitted though for the obvious reason dealing with art and flash. …”

            [2] peterblaise responded: “… It’s NOT obvious to me, and not enunciated in writing anywhere as to why — can you illuminate us, so to speak? …

            [3] wartybliggens responded: “… It’s been cited earlier in the thread: Flash is bad for the pigments in the art. Not to mention a disturbance to others viewing the art. You complain yourself over cell phone use and loud children—yet you can’t cede that flash is just as equally rude? Figures … ”

            [4] Peter Blaise responds: thanks, but …

            (a) no one here has testified that such an explanation has ever been proffered in writing BY GUARDS when guards they to prohibit museum photography, in spite of your speculation as to why flash is prohibited.

            (b) I did not complain, but noted the “disturbance” qualities of cell phone use and loud children AND I noted that those are not prohibited.

            wartybliggens, this is a challenge of people seeing cameras and photography as suspicious, dangerous, even criminal — all qualities that are bogus, baseless, inaccurate, and totally wrong about public photography.

            Do you have any justification as to why we should let that become the overriding experience of public photography, why we should abandon our US Constitutionally protected free speech rights because of other’s baseless and inaccurate fears?

            TIA (thanks in advance) for your next thoughtful and well researched response.

  • evandro melo

    Hi. I live in Brazil, Santo André (saint andreas) city in the state of São Paulo. There’s a small city into Santo André known by the old and pretty architeture, beautiful nature and it history. This city is named Paranapiacaba. Well, the local politicians created a law where no one can take pictures from the city without a pre approval. Nobody! It’s upper madness, because is’s a tourist city, with beautiful nature, waterfalls and architeture. So sad.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      yes…how sad.

  • Faye Daigler

    I believe the museums are within a legal right IF there’s a chance the art inside will be damaged by the light exposure of a flash. However, if you were not using a flash or there’s no chance of damage, you’re well within your right. A building certainly isn’t as fragile as say, a Da Vinci, and I think security guards are probably hearing “no flash photography” and thinking “no cameras”.

    Other instances are where legal copyright comes into it, like the recording of shows. For example, the ban on regular point and shoot (eg, not competing with the pro photographers who have paid or secured photography/print rights) cameras in concert venues is utterly ridiculous – except that everyone there is probably recording the artists for free and posting it on YouTube. This is also probably why you get kicked out of malls – people are worried that you’re copying clothing designs, jewelry, etc.

    Street photography is well documented as legal, though. Minors are more protected and for good reason, and for ethical as well as potential legal problems I wouldn’t take pictures of kids (besides you don’t want to get punched in the face if someone thinks you’re doing something creepy, but taking pictures of anything happening publicly is fair.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      Good thoughts Faye, thanks!

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Earlier, “… not competing with the pro photographers who have paid or secured photography/print rights …”

      You mean like a monopoly … over witnessing publicly viewable anything?

      Where does it say in the US Constitution that anyone can have superior rights over others regarding access to the free public arena?

      That’s even anti-capitalism, oh my!

      The US Constitution set up Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks to FOSTER competition, not to eliminate it (and yes, patents and copyrights are limited term monopolies, but only over one’s own creations).

      Ah, personal whim beats law abiding anytime!


      Earlier, “… Street photography is well documented as legal, though. Minors are more protected and for good reason …”

      Oh? How so? any legal references, especially in the US?


      More importantly, folks, how can anyone know what we have photographed unless we voluntarily cough up a copyright version of our capture, and that would take a court order, something that ain’t gonna happen contemporaneously on the street?

      Q: “… what are you photographing? …”

      A1: “… I don’t know nor care, and besides, it’s none of YOUR business, so leave me alone …”

      A2: “… I’m photographing you and your family, do you want to buy prints? Here’s my card, call me …”

    • oldphotog

      In the UK, it’s very simple. It’s not really to do with flash guns or children. If you’re on private property such as, a school, a museum, shopping mall, concert venue, the owners can ask you to stop taking photographs or leave! If you don’t leave or stop when asked, you’re in breach of trespassing laws. They can’t however, ask you to delete images as the photographs will always be the property of the photographer.

      • Tearoom Delights

        Ah, I didn’t know that. I was told it was to do with insurance, although I don’t understand why insurance wouldn’t cover photography.

  • http://paulsauve46.myopenid.com/ Paul S


    When I visited Panama a few years back, many stores (especially newer one in malls) do not allow people tp photograph inside their establishments! I was quite surprised.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      yeah that’s crazy.

      • Anonymous

        One reason, I’m certain, is security. Who’s to say the photographer isn’t casing the joint? Making note of surveillance systems and the like?

        • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

          Yeah “security” is often cited as the reason, but that’s pretty lame in my opinion. I guess I have more faith in both criminals and the police; that someone’s ability to break into a mall, or the mall’s ability to prevent that, doesn’t hinge on whether someone took a photo of a security camera. In the meantime, someone taking photos of his daughter getting her ears pierced gets hassled by the mall cops for compromising “security.”

        • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

          OMG, we sell millions of GUNS every day in the US and you’re worried about cameras?!?

          A camera is not a weapon.

          Photography is not a crime.

          Even “… casing the joint …” is not a crime.

          There is no reason to suspect a crime, and no probable cause to even approach a photographer, ever — not for photographing anything in public.


          However, aside from the trivial (not!) situation of constitutionally protected free speech rights, there’s the benefit of having as many photographers around all the time everywhere to witness and document whatever might happen, including natural disasters, or … an actual crime taking place.

          Please say THANK YOU to anyone we see photographing in public, and JOIN them — carry our cameras everywhere and shoot everything all the time.

          Photographers are the only ones who go out and shoot something and bring it back alive!

  • Must09

    Thank you for your information. I am from Canada. In a museum we are asked not to take pictures not to damage the paint for example. But otherwise, I never had a problem. In another case, I already took pictures on the internet to put them on my website (copy / paste), I got a warning that it was illegal, I did not know about the rights of author. I quickly corrected the situation and asked for permission for more pictures. See my website on: http://www.supershelby.jimdo.com

    Andre N

  • http://www.facebook.com/Steve.Sestrich Steve Sestrich

    Wait, I’ve been to the Alamo twice and I’ve never seen a sign banning photography and no one has told me it’s not allowed. They do ask you to not use your cell phone inside the building though. Maybe flash photography would be equally as annoying.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      Steve, here’s the sign from inside the mission building (the quality is poor because as soon as I held my phone up to take the photo, a docent started yelling for me to stop). There’s even a brass sign a few feet away from this that says the same thing. And decals on the doors of the other buildings. The anti-photographer oppression was inescapable there. (wah wah I sound like a baby, but it was infuriating)

      • Anonymous

        They don’t allow photography of any kind inside the Alamo out of respect for the men who fought and died there. It’s considered a shrine. It is owned by the state of Texas and operated by The Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

        • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

          I don’t at all see how taking photos is disrespectful, and respect was not cited by any of the docents I spoke with regarding the purpose of the rule. One docent even said “We’re like Macy’s, and they don’t let you take photos there either.” Sorry, but if someone is going to take away my rights, I’d like them to cite something better than Macy’s store policy.

          • Anonymous

            They directed me to a lady who was in charge when I was there and that is what she told me. I don’t think it’s disrespectful either. Maybe none of them know the real reason why we can’t take pictures…

          • Randy Hotz

            Blood was spilled there for Texas Independence. That should be reason enough.

          • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

            Hahahaha — as if any LAW or anyone in Texas honors anything other than their own damn selves!

            The justification for prohibiting photography as “… Blood was spilled there for Texas Independence. That should be reason enough. This is the most hallowed shrine in the State. …” is BOGUS unreferenced undocumented invention of the employees trying to make themselves feel like they have power over someone.

            Why can’t people feel powerful when enabling others, when supporting other’s freedoms, instead?

        • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

          Earlier, “… They don’t allow photography of any kind inside the Alamo out of respect for the men who fought and died there. It’s considered a shrine. It is owned by the state of Texas and operated by The Daughters of the Republic of Texas. …”

          HAhahahahaha — as if photography is disrespectful!

          Only Texas could imagine giving superior rights to the non-living over the Constitutional rights of the living.

          That reasoning will eventually prohibit photography anywhere because somebody died somewhere sometime over history.


          • Anonymous

            “HAhahahahaha — as if photography is disrespectful!”

            Well, YOU certainly are. And I’m certain it comes through in your photography.

      • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

        Earlier, “… here’s the sign from inside the [ Alamo ] mission building … I held my phone up to take the photo, a docent started yelling for me to stop … The anti-photographer oppression was inescapable there. (wah wah I sound like a baby, but it was infuriating) …”

        You’re not a baby — your a citizen with unalienable rights, especially considering the US Constitution 1st Amendment that says “… no law restricting freedom of speech …”

  • Anonymous

    While visiting the Louvre in Paris a few years ago, I could phototgraph anything I wanted to except the famed “Mona Lisa”. The primary reason was the flash so all photos were banned.
    While in Moscow I was taking a night scene on Red Square of St. Basils (which I had done on previous visits) but this time I was accosted by two uniformed guards that were quite intent on ‘arresting me’. They asked for my passport and permit to photograph in that location using a tripod. We had some friends traveling with us and I told them to go ahead to the restaurant where we were planning to eat and I’d catch up later. I wasn’t really concerned but they wouldn’t leave me there in that situation. After half an hour or so of their threatening they finally let me go with a warning not to do it again. I believe what they really wanted was a bribe to be let go for my ‘wrongdoing’. I’ve seen too much of that in Russia which is very sad.
    While in St. Petersburg in most of the tourist visited sites, you can buy a sticker to put on your camera (supposed to buy another for a video camera but you can just switch it from DSLR to your video camera) and you can take all the pictures you want of whatever you choose. It’s just a way for them to make a little extra money – it works!

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Earlier, “… One of the guards blew his whistle, everyone stops and looked as he came over and told me to delete the pictures and watched as I did so. I had taken some a little earlier and wasn’t ‘caught’ so I still got what I wanted. Seemed kind of silly to me. …”

      Doh! INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT for anyone to delete or demand that you delete YOUR pictures — you own the copyright immediately upon the creation of even the latent image!

      Also, get a broadcast card so the pictures are not IN the camera!

      Also, of course, set the card aside and UNDELETE immediately once back at any computer.

      Why do people think anyone else’s photography is any of their business?!?

  • Anonymous

    I live in San Antonio and don’t know why photography at the Alamo is prohibited but it is a revered and highly respected part of our history. I know that museums are concerned that their artifacts may suffer from photo exposure, especially flash. Maybe that applies to the old Alamo buildings as well. I agree with your observations about the other situations. I can’t see how taking a picture is harming anything that’s wide open to the public. I have been accosted by a pedestrian as I took a picture of a crowd in San Francisco, not singling him out in any way. I just figured he didn’t want anyone to know where he was. Excellent article. I look forward to hearing more.

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Yes, additional lighting above scientifically designated levels can age fragile artifacts, and displays should be well-marked with the authority taking responsibility for lighting level recommendations.

      also, flash can startle fellow visitors, making their visit uncomfortable, just as screaming babies and people yelling into their cell phones do for me.

      Preventing photography altogether makes absolutely no LEGAL sense.

      The objections of people in public to having their picture taken is ludicrous — just look around and point to any security camera in view, as we’re all on camera almost all the time anyway.

      Regardless, no one in public has superior rights over someone else’s photography.

  • Anonymous

    Lots of interesting debates! A mall, church, Alamo, store, museum are all private properties open to the public. The owners of these properties are well within their rights to set the rules for anyone on their property. For example, many malls prohibit sitting on the floor. Who would argue with that? (Check their small printed signs next time!) You can say that is stupid, nonsensical, immoral, unethical, and others can agree or disagree – but it is certainly legal for them to set the rules, and to say photography is not allowed. It is their property, they make the rules, even (and because) these places are accessible to the public. (BTW, I think it is stupid too in many cases, but I often follow rules even when they are stupid.)

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Yes, quite a provocative discussion.

      Earlier: “… private properties open to the public … The owners of these properties are well within their rights to set the rules for anyone on their property …”

      What is is about ownership of property open to the public that gives the owner’s superior rights over the visiting public’s free speech rights?

      Can they say, “no talking to your companions”, or “no writing or taking notes”?

      Can they choose to prohibit one right while other right are permissible? Why?

      I fail to see how ownership of property open to the public permits owner’s to toss the US Constitution.

      Earlier: “… while you are on truly public property (e.g. a street) you are allowed to photograph almost anything you want …”

      ALMOST anything?

      Why do you think there are ANY prohibitions on photographing ANYTHING visible?

      What do you imagine someone cannot photograph while they are in public, pray tell?

      • sandrogisler

        First again, I’m neither a lawyer not an expert, but here is what I read: “Mall owner’s property rights vs. freedom of speech”: Here is the policy of a mall close to where I live: http://www.triangletowncenter.com/shop/triangle.nsf/codeofconduct To pick some extreme examples from that policy, you’re not allowed to sing or run. You’re not allowed to show someone the finger (obscene gestures). You’re certainly not allowed to demonstrate or picket. So much for free speech. However, at the bottom they have a clause about not violating your civil liberties.
        But we’re getting of topic, especially since they do not mention photography at all. Bottom line is, it is legal to make far reaching rules in malls (and churches, and The Alamo). Enforcing this, removing someone, detaining someone is whole other discussioon

        Regarding the “almost everything”. I wrote almost everything, because I found one exception: You’re not allowed to take photos of military installation from a public vantage point, or anything else that “threatens national security”. That is the only exception I found though. There was a story a while back about someone photographing the Long Island Railroad and asked by security to stop. Turns out he was in the right, because he was on public ground and he did not threaten national security. So that is what you cannot photograph while in the public – military installations.
        Someone further down tells a story of being followed after photographing children in a front yard.What the photographer did was legal, even though there are special regulations about photographing children, and the home owner did not have the right to apprehend the photographer.

        It would be great if an real expert (with a law degree and photography knowledge) could chime in!

        I dare to summarize what I learned in simple words:
        - When on public ground, you can photograph almost everything (restrictions for military stuff, national security)
        - When on private property open to the public like a mall, the property owner can more or less prohibit photographing completely
        - However, a security quard or even police officer cannot demand that you delete the photos you took or even confiscate the camera. Most they can do is ask you to stop and ask you to leave; beyond that, they would have to take you to court.
        - If a security guard orders you to delete photos, you can politely decline. But he has the right to ask you sternly (it’s just not “nice”), and you have the right to refuse to do so.

  • http://twitter.com/ext237 ext237

    In my HoustonPhotowalks club, we have 3 main components to every walk. One of them is to educate the public that photographers aren’t jerks, aren’t criminals, and aren’t up to no good. Regardless how many times we get into a debate with security guards or the police, the general public is the entity that must be educated. When regular folks realize that hobby camera owners are no different than hobby golfers or hobby anglers, the powers that be will stop being paid to harass us.

    I was harassed by a rent-a-cop in the mall and told to put away my camera. I asked what the no-camera rule was supposed to accomplish. He said it was to prevent copyright infringement. I was taking pictures of the 8-story tall American flag hanging inside the mall. Yep.

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Yes, people confuse photography with publishing.

      And yet, they forget that preventing publishing is censorship, a totally illegal act in the US.

      And you’d think they’d be PROUD of censorship being illegal in the US.

      But no-o-o-o.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KPDHKIHGLCFOAT4GD26WM4LMQE Darlene

    I was taking photos from my car of old houses in the downtown area, where I live. In one of the front yards were kids playing and running around. I was waiting for them to run to the side of the house so I could get my shot.
    They ran out of my lens sight and I quickly took the photo. I put my camera away and drove away, shortly after I thought someone was following me, so instead of going home I decided to go to a crowded store. I got out of my car and this guy got out of his asking why I was taking photos of his kids. Scary having someone follow no matter where I turned! I explained and he said OK and left.
    I could understand his concern but he scared the begebers out of me:>)

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this article and thanks to the people who left comments. I am reminded of the time many years ago in the old Soviet Union. On a visit there, we were constantly reminded not to photograph sensitive installations such as railway yards and military buildings. The other day I was in downtown San Diego taking photos of the old, old Court House and of the new one being constructed not far away. I was apprehensive someone would accost me and ask what I was doing…such is the public paranoia since 9-11.
    Nothing happened, but the chill was in the air. Sad.

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Sad, because your taking photos in public is not only an expression of our free speech rights, but could participate in preventing or prosecuting a crime should you capture something in your pictures that documents a public crime.

      Passersby should CELEBRATE anyone taking pictures in public, saying “thank you for expressing and protecting our free speech rights!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Suresh-Pillai/762799267 Suresh Pillai

    I am based in India. Recently visited Ahmadabad, where I was allowed to take hand held photographs of UN heritage sites, but not with a tripod or mono pod. It seems that Archeological survey of India has stipulated that you can take photos of dark interiors by using a flash, but not a tripod …

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      It seems that no one explains the reasoning their “rules” as they try to control photography.

      Such as “… we consider a tripod to be exclusive use of the area it stands, therefore we require a permit process and a rental fee for your exclusive use of a portion of the premises …”.

      Otherwise, I see no difference between my tripod and someone standing in one spot ahead of me for any length of time, camera or not.

      And look at those in wheelchairs, they take up exclusive use of the space more so than people who can walk.

      Parents with baby strollers?

      • Anonymous

        Don’t be inane. Wheelchairs and strollers are in no way comparable to a tripod.

        You keep going on about other’s “superior rights”, and yet you seem to feel yours trump all others’. When you enter an area with posted rules, the proprietors don’t owe you an explanation for them in exchange for your compliance.

        If the rules of an institution rub you the wrong way, you have every right to leave.

  • http://gloamingdesigns.typepad.com/ Abigail

    Great thoughts in the post and in the comments! I’m always scared of being yelled at for taking photos. It’s something I enjoy and I hate the idea that the pleasure of it can be ruined because someone feels the need to start yelling at you!

    I just wanted to add a thought on the museum question seen I’ve worked in a museum: As others have pointed out, the main problem is flash but another problem is when a museum is exhibiting a work from someone else’s collection (such as in a traveling or special exhibit). In that case, the work is simply on loan and the museum has no ownership of it and thus they can’t give you permission to photograph. That’s why, like in the Louvre, you’ll see signs around temporary shows saying ‘No Photography’ but their permanent collections are fair game.

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      “… I’m always scared of being yelled at for taking photos. It’s something I enjoy and I hate the idea that the pleasure of it can be ruined because someone feels the need to start yelling at you! …”

      Yes — why do other people think they have superior rights over our own expression of our own freedom of speech?

  • Anonymous

    There are two reasons that come to mind for restricting photography in many semi-public locations that are privately owned or privately maintained by a not for profit group. Many of these have their own professional photos that they want to sell to help fund their project.
    The other – and I find this very annoying is the issue of flash. Example – ball games or even high school or College plays where flashes are constantly going off. Many of the old point and shoot cameras automaticly flashed in sulbdued lighting even though it did absolutely no good toward lighting their subject that was 20′ pluss away. They do not realize that if flash is turned off the stage or field lights will provide better lighting.
    The flash just sends conflicting data to the camers. In areas with display case the flash defetes a potentially good photo with the flash back or reflection. Not to speak of messing up the natural lighting.

    Allen Peyton

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      “… semi-public …”

      Sort of like “… semi-pregnant …”, don’t you think?

      Either the place is under the jurisdiction of the US Constitution or not, but “semi”?!?

      Why do people think private ownership nullifies the US Constitution?

      How about elsewhere, other than the US, folks — any testimony?

      • Anonymous

        No. Semi-public is not at all like semi-pregnant. If you’re in a theatre during a performance or at a museum you do not have the right to shoot away—automatic flash or not.

        And what’s this got to do with “the jurisdiction of the US Constitution”!? Go back to your tea party forum. And take John Galt with you!

        • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

          Everyone, please make your excellent points without the personal jabs. They make me sad.

        • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

          wartybliggens, please explain to all of us the reason to limit US Constitutionally protected rights on publicly accessible property, private or not — why would any place be immune to such protections of everyone’s rights?

          What places do you believe are outside the jurisdiction of the US Constitution, laws, rules, courts and common laws, and why?

          I’m just askin’ how and why you think someone else in any publicly accessible place has superior rights over someone else’s Constitutionally protected free speech rights.

          Really — where’d they get that power … and why not me, too?

          How did my public photography become an inferior right versus their desire to prohibit, confiscate, and destroy my public photography becoming a superior right?

          Enlighten me — enlighten us all.


          PS: And it’s not the Tea Party, it’s the T.E.A. Party, self-mislabeled “Taxed Enough Already” at a time of the lowest taxes ever – doh — a topic for another discussion thread with zero thinkers!

          PS2: Wikipedia contributors agree [ and I add comments in brackets ] that “… John Galt is a fictional character in [ zero thinker ] Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged (1957) … Galt … serves as a principled counterpoint to the [ fictional ] collectivist social and economic structure depicted in the [ fictional ] novel … [ versus ] a [ fictionalized ] society based on [ fictional ] oppressive bureaucratic functionaries and a [ fictional ] culture that embraces stifling mediocrity and egalitarianism, which the [ fictional ] novel [ fiction, fantasy, fiction, and crap ] associates with [ zero thinker Ayn Rand's shallow and misinformed presumptions about some forms of ] socialistic idealism [ at the time, which is now over 50 years ago in Ayn Rand's myopic zero thinking cultural circles back then ] …” [ sorry for my extensive bracketed comments, but I hate wasting my time on this bull ... ]

          • Anonymous

            “why would any place be immune to such protections of everyone’s rights?”

            As sandrogizler mentions in a helpful post below ‘property rights’ or ownership allows the owner to set the rules for public use on said property.

            Ironically, by demanding total freedom on a person’s property, it’s you who are seeking “superior rights”.

            Are you enlightened now?

            (btw, at least we can find agreement on a couple things: Rand and the tea party are both a waste of time.)

          • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

            I was speaking of PUBLICLY accessible property, regardless of ownership — why would ownership suddenly qualify the PUBLICLY accessible property as a “no US Constitutional rights” zone?

            In PUBLIC, when does someone else get superior rights over other people’s US Constitutionally protected free speech rights?

            I’m just wondering why there’s a clamoring for prohibiting photography in PUBLICLY accessible places, regardless of ownership of those PUBLICLY accessible places.

            What OTHER “against-the-US-Constitution” superior rights do owners get over others, aside from being empowered (by WHAT?) to limit other people’s US Constitutionally protected free speech rights?

            Good discussion otherwise — but why is no one addressing this question?

            Please, someone list the superior rights “owners” have that permits them to trounce other people’s rights, and please cite the legal sources for such supposed superior authority of owners over their publicly accessible property and people in or on that publicly property.


          • Anonymous

            I certain I’m within my superiorly-protected US Constitutional rights to bow out of this (ahem) discussion.

            Carry on, sir.
            (As I do not doubt you will.)

          • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

            I don’t want you or anyone to back out of this discussion (though it’s your right to, of course).

            I really want to understand the prevalent attitude that photography in public is a permissioned activity and or evidence or promise of a crime or terrorism.

            Then I want to master how to overcome it.

            Please help.

            My goal is:

            No more second class citizens, ever, please.

            And photographers have somehow allowed ourselves to become second class citizens — ouch!

            A camera is not a weapon; photography is not a crime.

            Photography is speech; photography is free speech.

          • Vecna

            I’m not from U.S. and the lawyers there may think a bit different from here, but we’d say that if you’re in a private property and the owner set rules that don’t allow you to take pictures for whatever reason it is, this place is not “outside the U.S. constitution jurisdiction”, but it’s exactly the opposite, for property rights are as constitutional as speech rights.
            The whole point is a conflict between two rights constitutionally garanted, and so, there shall be a point of balance and it’s justice job to say where it lays.
            Perhaps it is time to take photographer rights to court if it’s not done enought, so they can say when, how and where you can take your shoots withou any harassment.

      • Anonymous

        My apologies, Mr. peterblaise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rsillett1 Ron Sillett

    I believe the museum question comes from the days of flashbulbs. They could explode and cause harm to artifacts. Todays cameras don’t need to use a flash to get a decent picture. I work in an air museum and tell visitors that they can take all the photos they want. We just don’t want to see them on E-bay or Craigslist. There is a sign at the entrance that states that only personal photos are allowed. The mall cop was just exercising his ego.

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      “… We just don’t want to see them on E-bay or Craigslist …”

      Any reason why YOU care?

  • http://twitter.com/rgesthuizen Roland Gesthuizen

    Last year I travelled with my family, across the USA and Europe following a study tour for Australian teachers. Not only do I use my cameras for creating digital art, it is also a digital record keeper for recording and sharing private events and significant family moments such as birthdays or family gatherings.

    At the Lincoln memorial, I was challenged after taking some photographs and video. A primary school teacher rushed down the stairs, waving her arms and demanded that I delete all my photographs as the building contained school children. After she made threatening noises, I showed her my “Working with Children” school card then deleted all the photographs and video of the memorial. At no point did I try to photograph the students, they were noisily running back and forth between the shots, up and down the stairs. I backed away after suggesting that she perhaps considering removing her students from the moral danger of this space or cover their faces.

    Respecting the “no photography” rules at the Alamo and other institutions, I have no images of the interior.

    We have recorded family moments amongst the multicultural buzz of Santa Monica Pier, a quiet reflection together under the Menin Gates and next to the Arlington eternal flame of the unknown soldier, secret moments deep inside the Paris Louvre, next to ruins of Stonehenge and streets of Roman Pompei. By contrast, the Lincoln memorial and Alamo are just fading memories. So be it.

  • Anonymous

    In Australia we aren’t allowed to photograph children at their school sports any more. A few years back at the louvre I was allowed to photograph the Mona Lisa as long as I didn’t use flash. In florence I wasn’t allowed to photograph the statue of David, only the fake one in the town square. All the shopping malls here have “No photography” signs at the entrance.

  • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

    You’d have to get a warning from the copyright owner, all other “warnings” are bogus.

    Can you explain with some more detail what really happened to you and your pictures?

  • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

    … except that as conservators of public property, they have no superior rights or powers to limit the public’s rights and powers.

    They can make any rule they want to make, but that does not make it legally enforceable nor might they prevail in court.

    Sadly, tourists are usually not willing to go to court on their vacation.

    Where’s the ACLU on this?

    They are pursuing unrestricting photography in many legal venues, and this is way down on the list, if on the list at all, but wins may trickle down

    • Anonymous

      Briefly put, it would work like this: They can make rules, if you do not follow the rules they can ask you to leave, and if you do not leave upon request you could be trespassing, and they could get law enforcement to remove you from the property.
      However, me personally, if I would travel to the Alamo, I would choose not to photograph for moral reasons. They are the conservators of what they consider a sacred ground, and I obey their wish. Legal considerations would in that case be secondary for me. (I may have the right to photograph, but I would choose to not exercise it.)
      When I enter a cathedral I wear long sleeves, even though I’m not catholic, and I wash my feet before entering a mosque even though I’m not a muslim; I simply choose to respect their wish, whether I am required by law or not. “You’re not required by law to be nice, but it might be a good idea to be nice anyway.”

      • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

        Earlier, “… I would choose not to photograph for [ my own ] reasons …”

        Yes, and that’s the point — for YOUR OWN reasons, not because someone else has superior rights over your own free speech rights to photography anything you can also see.

        Photography is not a permissioned activity over which others have superior rights.

        Your insistence on courtesy and deference implies that photography is discourteous and requires permission, and that is just wrong, and that is the problem — people think photography is not “nice”, people think photography is stealing something without repayment of just compensation.

        Versus what, looking? Photography is merely an extension of looking.

        Versus the security cameras recording us all 24-7? We’re all being photographed all the time for all to see anyway.

        No, photograph is not the problem.

        Photographers permitting photography to be perceived as a permissioned activity, permitting photography to be perceived as subordinate and optional, not a right, but a whim, a hobby, is the problem.

        It wasn’t as bad as this before the greedy bastards ascended to power — on the dead bodies of 9-11 victims or the fears of parents — claiming photographers are now terrorists and child molesters.

        Look to the greedy power mongers for those sins of abuse, do not look to public photographers who are simply documenting our world, helping reveal and remember the way we are, who are fulfilling their creative expression as human beings just as cave painters did.

        Creating personally expressive and meaningful artifacts is a perpetual human desire — give it up, give it away, at your own peril, at society’s peril, at everyone’s peril, for if one of us is denied our humanity, we all surrender our humanity.

        For a little perspective, read the US Supreme Court rulings on photography from the 1860s on, showing the respect for the personal free speech rights (and copyrights, and so on) of photographers against other people’s controls.

        What’s wrong with us photographers, are we all really lambs to the slaughter?

  • Susan E Hoffman

    Copyrights have been asserted over things as diverse as the Eiffel Tower (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/fast-company-staff/fast-company-blog/eiffel-tower-repossessed), the famous Lone Cypress at Pebble Beach, Calif. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/liquidmoonlightcom/2832887923/), and I know a woman who was prohibited by the owner from taking a photo of his horse in an outdoor pasture because the owner asserted a copyright on that horse’s image. I also know pro photogs who regularly shoot famous performers – some prohibit the photogs from selling any photos they take of the performer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1701441900 Susan E Hoffman

    As to minors, if they are in schools, most schools maintain a roster of children whose parents do not want photos taken of their children at or in connection with the school. There may be a custody or domestic abuse issue and they don’t want the kids in photos. As a journalist, I respect the rights of parents and do not take those children’s photos if they are identified as such (and most teachers know who those kids are).

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Earlier, “… As to minors, if they are in schools, most schools maintain a roster of children whose parents do not want photos taken of their children at or in connection with the school … As a journalist, I respect the rights of parents and do not take those children’s photos if they are identified as such (and most teachers know who those kids are). …”

      So the school has an intelligent auto-blackout program connected with a registration database used for masking their security cameras for those kids (a database that would require taking a photo pf the kid they don’t want photos of, by the way, doh!)?


      And they don’t mind making some students second class citizens, eh?

      “… we don’t photography black kids because it makes the school look substandard! …”

      The “rights” of parents — to, what, prohibit the rights of others to free speech?

      DON’T EVEN LOOK AT MY CHILD — after all, photography is merely a free-speech extension of looking, an inalienable human right.

      That’s a berserker request since photography is not a permissioned activity.

      Think: “… make no law prohibiting free speech …”, you know, a US Constitutional, 1st Amendment thing.

      Perhaps they are thinking of a commercial release to use their kid’s image — something totally separate and unrelated.

      Yes, the web makes us all subject to being witnessed world wide, but the alternative is, what, burkas?

      No one tells me what to do with my free speech rights, and I’ll photography you in public in your god damn burka if I want to.

      I appreciate schools are an extension of the home, one’s castle, but other kids have cell phone cameras, and the school’s digitally-linked security cameras can be easily published or hacked.

      C’mon, folks, the Luddites are HISTORY for a reason!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1701441900 Susan E Hoffman

    Some events hire their own photographer who takes photos of entrants and then tries to sell them to the people involved. For instance, my town has a dog show every year. The organizers have a professional who takes photos of the dogs while they are competing, then quickly puts them on a computer where owners can browse the photos and choose ones they want to order. This is the photog’s business, and the club offers this as a service to the participants. That is a situation where I think they can legitimately limit your ability to take AND SELL photos. I respect that and don’t want to step on his toes or compete with him; and I don’t have any problems taking my own photos for the newspaper I work for.

  • Anonymous

    I am fairly new to photography and this blog really blow my mind! It is REALLY sad that places and people can be this way! In my opinion, if there aren’t signs stating “No Photography” don’t hassle me……if they have a problem with it, then they should consider posting signs and changing their “rules” If its not posted why are you asking me to not take photos basically! And I’m sorry if this has been posted already, I only read about half way down or so.

    Its really just irratating reading, seeing or hearing that people can’t take photos! Granted don’t get me wrong that people do use photos for things other than private use, but thats their problem to deal with internet lurkers looking for their things online. Again if it is such a problem post a “No Photography” sign…….how hard is that?!?! For me going on a trip to any major city is a photog spot for me and I will take pics of anything and everything!! I LOVE taking photos, and if something looks to be out of the ordinary I will ask if taking photos is ok, and let them know I didn’t see a sign. I might even do research online before hand, but at the same time if it is such a big deal to places, put up a sign.

    I went to a Sporting Event back in January and not only did ticketmaster say NO PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY(to me meaning my D SLR camera) was allowed, along with recording. While I was asking if my camera (Kodak Z710) had recording abilities, (I did lie and said NO, but I also had ZERO intention of using it which I didn’t.) Yet a gentleman in the row in front of me had a D SLR just like mine just sitting there snapping away! People that check bags need to become familiar with certain camera types if they say certain “Photography” isn’t allowed. If its the lenses say so, I can still take decent photos with almost any camera with a great lens and zoom!

    Now I am just rambling, so I will end with this, if “recording” is such an issues, make no cells phones allowed! Those are being made to take photos and record videos just as well as cameras these days.

  • Anonymous


  • http://profile.yahoo.com/26K6IB2NYLMQLBDBG7IG7REVFE Rey OfL

    While stationed in Okinawa, I was walking down the street taking photos of interesting people and buildings. As I walked down, I saw a metal rendition of a rose, which was beautiful. I stopped and snapped a few images, and the shop owner ran outside and started yelling at me in Japanese, and of course I didn’t know what he was saying, but I knew why he was saying it. I wanted a few more exposures, so I ignored and shot a few more and as I was done, he reached and tried to grab my camera, and my initial reaction was to smack his hand down. In anger, and in English, I told him that the Japanese government had a very strict law about citizens touching or assaulting U.S. military … he quickly apologized (in English) and walked away. I don’t know if the Japanese govt. has that kind of law, but for some reason that was the first thing out of my mouth … either way, he was upset that I was taking pics, and I was upset for him trying to grab my $2,000 camera …

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Yes, people think photography is stealing something they own, and that they have superior rights over other people’s photography.

      THIS is the challenge to educate everyone, even photographers:

      No one else has superior rights over our own photography, our gear, and trying to destroy our images is a violation of intentional copyright treaties, and trying to prevent photography is censorship and suppression of competition and illegal monopoly practices … the list goes on.

      Let’s start asking people to THANK US for expressing and protecting everyone’s free speech rights when we photograph.

  • Anonymous

    Another reason some places have rules against on-site photography: the annoyance for others who are there simply to view and enjoy the works/ambience.

    Apart from the disturbance of flash and clatter of tripods, tour bus mobs of amateurs butting-in and clicking can really ruin the experience. With the today’s plethora of gadgetry, I can only imagine how this intrusion on MY right to experience a display/venue/whatever in relative peace is multiplied.

    Loreto Church in Prague has a policy where photographs are allowed for a small fee. Some might besmirch this as a means for money grubbing, but it certainly kept the place from being over-run by zealous shutterbugs!

    • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

      Wow, you got everything wrong here.

      The fees are definitely a grab for money.

      The noise with silent digital cameras is, what, louder than a screaming baby or someone shouting a public one-sided-dialog into their ever-present cell phone or some blah-blah-blah screaming tourist couple who can’t keep their disagreements private?

      Get over it, and say THANK YOU to anyone taking pictures, and JOIN THEM in documenting and sharing and preserving our precious world.

      Photography is not a crime.

      Photography is speech and expression; do not suppress it.

      • Anonymous

        Wow. I was entirely wrong. Sorry, my mistake for having an opinion.

        As I said, the shooting fee certainly kept the number of irritants to a minimum. At the time I was at Loreto there were no screaming babies or cell abusers, but one set of obnoxious behavior doesn’t validate another.

        Many amateurs Auto shoot and don’t know how to disable sound effects, let alone flash. But sound and flash aren’t the only opportunities for interrupting another person’s experience. Photographers can block views, oblivious of others around them, in pursuit of the shot. I’ve even seen them enter cordoned off areas! As I said, where larger masses of photographers are allowed to run amuck, the more they barge in on my rights with their (as you enjoy putting it) superior rights.

        Lastly, your claim of freedom of speech and expression is on shaky ground when you include (as you did, somewhere in this thread) the loophole of personal use and non-printed images of copyright material. It isn’t really speech if it’s not spoken.

        I never called photography a crime. I was merely suggesting possible reasons some places require you to refrain.

  • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

    Although that is a nice summary informing neo-street-photographers what their rights are, the reference sadly has no citations that can be used to inform arresting officers and security guards and shop owners and others who try to interfere with public photographer’s US Constitutionally protected free speech and other rights.

    We need a [ Photography Is Free Speech Wiki ]!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rawbert-Wagner/1104255028 Rawbert Wagner

    For Museums, I will take photos but with no flash. If it’s a borrowed collection, they will post No Photography Allowed” so I will respect that.
    As for stores, IF I see something I like, I take a picture of it. If the store staff tell me I can’t take photos, I explain to them that it is so I can tell my wife the exact item I want for my borthday. If she has a photo of it, it makes it easier for her to find and buy. They usually shut up if they think they might have a sale later.

    But I’ve only really been bothered once for NOT taking photos. I was at a museum (NO photos of this exhibit allowed), camera in hand, lens cap on, and camera off. The security guard came over to me and yelled, yes, yelled at me and told em to delete my photos. I clamly explained that one, the lens cap is on and the camera is off, and two, did you see me take a photo? After he told me know, I loudly demanded to see his boss and expect an appology because the entire exhibit went quiet when he yelled at me and everyone was looking right at me.

    As for when I was in the Army, that’s a whole different story…

  • http://www.facebook.com/sydcarten Sydney Carten

    I live in Australia, and I was walking through a town which is well known for it many beautiful and historical buildings, courthouse, post office, churches, antique shopfronts etc. While I was photographing the post office building a security guard from a nearby shopping mall came up to me on the street and demanded to know why I was taking photographs. I thought it was an absurd question, given that the post office building was a really lovely old building and it should have been self evident. But I told him I was doing it for my own personal interest, and he replies, “Oh, so you don’t have a legitimate reason, then.” I found this comment both disturbing and offensive that he should say that photography on a public street is somehow an illegitimate activity unless it has been specifically commissioned by someone.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      Ugh…that just makes me angry. The nerve.

  • iphone427

    NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED!!here is my experienced for today, and i can say i’m really very upset and annoyed! I lived in SCOTLAND for so many years, and this morning my mom and I went to SILVERBURN SHOPPING MALL in GLASGOW, which they called one of the biggest shopping mall in UK, (I doubt) Incidentally, i was approached by a well suited security and reprimanded me from TAKING PICTURES of my mom inside the mall, suprisingly i asked myself if which place i was in, (am i in the mosque or somewhere solemn place?) the security guy even asked me to delete the photos and he said he wants to see it by himself!!

    My mom who is well travelled and came all the way from ASian country first time to hear in a WESTERN country that PICTURE TAKING IS NOT ALLOWED inside the MALL , due to MANAGEMENT POLICY??? huhh?

    How come this kind of shopping mall which tried to attract shoppers and visitors (which i doubt now,) banned people from taking pictures for personal use??THERE WAS NO SIGN EVERYWHERE (I believed as i look at every post and even the main entrance where i entered!!

    IT’S A SHOPPING MALL which i believed retailers are happy to promote their shops and LOCATION to attract shoppers and visitors, especially during christmas seasons,, and most important in time of declining economy in retailing.

    • http://tuitivegroup.com Jon Arnold

      wow that sucks. I’m sorry to hear you encountered such an overzealous security guard. Sorta ruins your day to get harassed for simply taking a photo, right?

  • oldphotog

    Sorry for the delayed comment. In the UK it’s pretty much
    the same rule as the US. If you’re in a public place the law says you can
    photograph anything or anyone! If you don’t believe me, have a look at all the CCTV cameras that film you without permission every day! If you take photographs on private property without permission you can be asked to stop under the rule of trespassing! However, as you say, nobody has the right to tell you to delete or hand over your images because they are legally, your property.

    Worryingly I was asked once by a student “so are the rules
    the same in other countries?” No, I explained, you can be shot for spying!!

  • Vecna

    A few years ago, I was walking a cemetery with a friend of mine (yeah, we like the architecture of graveyards) and she was taking some shoots of beauty tombs we found, taking care to never show any name or picture.
    So, at some point, we found some violated tombs, remaining openned and others that were very damaged by time. She took some pictures of it too, for it has it’s on beauty.
    So, a litlte latter, the grave digger found us and he saw her camera. He then asked to see the pictures she took and ordered her to remove every picture of any damaged or violated graveyard. We were just teens than, so she did as he said.
    We both left with the sense that he only ordered her to remove the pictures that could be used against him for they show that the cemetery was not as preserved as it should.
    So, I guess it may usually come to this: people don’t want pictures for they’re afraid of doing anything wrong and it’s always a nice proof to use in a court.
    Oh, I’m from Brazil, BTW.

  • Tearoom Delights

    This is very interesting. I wish I knew what the laws were here (I’m in the UK) but it seems to be hard to discover. I visited a privately owned castle yesterday and was told off for taking a photograph of the toilets that are there for public use. The owner told me that this was 2because the insurance doesn’t allow it, and this is my home”. While I appreciate that it’s her home, she’s opened it up to the public and there was no admission fee for the part I was taking photos of. I also took photos in the cafe, and when I went to pay for my food and mentioned how delicious it had been, the response was an agressive noise and a look that could kill! I have been told off for taking photos in several other public places, most notably cafes where I photograph the food for my blog, to encourage people to visit. It’s free publicity, I only write positive reviews, and yet I get this defensive attitude. I must say that plenty of cafes do let me take photos and don’t seem at all bothered, it’s only a handful of very suspicious people who spoil it.

  • Jonathan Charles Ubrig

    When I was living in Germany, I never had big problems with taking pictures. The only time I had to go back to my car and leave my camera was at a christmas concert, but you were allowed to take your phone which had a camera build insight. There are certain places like museum and government building that forbid taking pictures, but they have signs everywhere. No sign than your normally allowed. When I went with friends to Tropical Island near Berlin, a indoor swimming pool that looks and feels like being in the tropics, I videotaped my friends and even at a birthday party of my friends children at a indoor playground was no problem. The focus was taking pictures of my friends, but there are other children that I don’t know on there, too. I to understand that because there is a big problem with child abuse in certain countries to be very sensitive about it. What I see as a big problem this days is not only the fear of violating copyright but to use the pictures for terrorist acts, why you will have more problems taking pictures on public places, especially in the U.S, where people are losing more and more the right of their freedom (in all areas).