Saturday, February 24, 2007

Photographer's rights

When taking photographs for Hyde DP, I'm always somewhat diffident about photographing people, even in public places. Actually I needn't be, although that doesn't stop some people giving me rather quizzical looks and I've had people passing by remarking "I hope you weren't taking a photo of me", though usually because they thought it would be unflattering rather than them feeling I had some sinister motive.

Simon Taylor has raised a parliamentary petition about photographer's rights.

He writes
There are a number of moves promoting the requirement of 'ID' cards to allow photographers to operate in a public place.

It is a fundamental right of a UK citizen to use a camera in a public place, indeed there is no right to privacy when in a public place.

These moves have developed from paranoia and only promote suspicion towards genuine people following their hobby or profession.

His full article can read on and the petition accessed at

A PDF file "A Short Guide to Photographer's Rights in the UK" can be downloaded from

There is a very interesting set of comments at a page on the Lochwinnoch Village Forum; last word going to the photographer who remarks
For clarification I should point out that under UK law, there are no restrictions on taking photographs in a public place or on photography of individuals, whether they are adults or minors. There is no right to privacy in a public place, although photographers are of course subject to the usual libel laws in the same way as any other citizen and should observe them. Equipment or film may not be confiscated, or images deleted by any person or officer unless a warrant for such action is issued. Any attempt without a warrant is considered assault under UK law.


  1. I've got an ambivalent feeling on this one.

    I really don't want to be identifiably included in photographs I've not agreed to and I therefore personally need to accord others the same rights. I've tended to 'doctor' my photographs to remove identifiable people.

    However I do believe in artistic freedom and the rights of photographers of show what they take.

    How does one square the circle?

  2. Thanks for this post, it is very important for us photographers to preserve our freedom to use the camera in public places. I have not heard of a problem in Canada, but in the USA, there is a lot of hype and police and security guards conficating equipment.

  3. This is realy good highlight - it woukd be a shame that photgrapher can not click cause the beauty of photgraphy is to snap and capture the moment

    Many thanks for your visit and kind words in LIP


  4. I use a moo mini card with all my info on whenever I shoot people I don't know. You can buy them here:

    I also offer people a print, that will make anyone happy.

  5. Hi, Gerald, here is an editorial of this theme:

  6. Thank you for signing the petition on the Downing Street website calling for the Prime Minister to stop proposed restrictions on photography in public places.

    This petition has already attracted over 60,000 signatures from people who obviously share your concern. Not surprisingly, the idea that the Government might be poised to restrict your ability to take photos has caused some puzzlement and even alarm.

    We have therefore decided to respond to this petition before its closing date of August, in order to reassure people.

    The Government appreciates that millions of people in this country enjoy photography. So we have checked carefully to see if any Government department was considering any proposal that might possibly lead to the sort of restrictions suggested by this petition. We have been assured this is not the case.

    There may be cases where individual schools or other bodies believe it is necessary to have some restrictions on photography, for instance to protect children, but that would be a matter for local decisions.

    In fact, Simon Taylor, who started the petition, has since made clear that he was not really referring to Government action or legislation. His main concern appears to be that photographic societies and other organisations may introduce voluntary ID cards for members to help them explain why they are taking photographs. Again, any such scheme would not involve the Government.

    We hope this re-assures you and clears up the confusion.