PetaPixel

Six Photographers Test Their Right to Shoot in London

On June 21, 2011, non-profit organization Shoot Experience sent out six photographers to various parts of London to see the current state of photographers’ rights.

Some used tripods, some went hand held, one set up a 5 x 4.

All were instructed to keep to public land and photograph the area as they would on a normal day. The event aimed to test the policing of public and private space by private security firms and their reaction to photographers.

The result? Every one of the photographers was confronted at least once, and in three cases the police were called.

(via Reddit)


 
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  • Anonymous

    Crazy sick country. Sadly it seems to be becoming a trend around the world to consider photography a dangerous terrorist/criminal activity.

  • heike

    Hmm. Well, all the securities have been friendly. In Germany they would have thrown you out from private property in a different way. And sorry, he wants to see the id and he doesn’t have it with him. One security let’s you know three times that he does not want to be filmed. They do not respect that and we can all see it now.

  • Jens Dalsgaard

    Love the video, and the sensible police officers in particular. The police often get at bad rep, but  the ones in this test wereonly looking to help and resolve the situation.

  • Jens Dalsgaard

    Love the video, and the sensible police officers in particular. The police often get at bad rep, but  the ones in this test wereonly looking to help and resolve the situation.

  • Twalker294

    This is EXACTLY how these kinds of situations should be handled. Explain to the security guard that you are on public property, that you have a right to be there, and be nice. If they want to call the police, let them. They will be the ones looking like fools. It is obvious from this video that, in London anyway, it’s private security that’s the problem, not the police. The cops understand the concept of public property and that anyone has a right to photograph or film anything they want to on public property. “You need my permission to film me”? Good lord give me a break.

  • Jaron Schneider

    That was fantastic. Glad someone did this, as corporations often think they are the law rather than having to obey what really is the law.

  • Hawk1500

    I am impressed that all the police officers seemed to be well-versed in the law (unlike the ones in the US, at least from the couple of videos I’ve seen with similar situations).

  • Kitlens

    The photographer are obviously provoking the security. Do you like someone outside your house taking pictures of you and your family? If you are taking pictures of a bank, of course your suspicious. I am a photographer but we need to have a common sense.

  • Kitlens

    The photographer are obviously provoking the security. Do you like someone outside your house taking pictures of you and your family? If you are taking pictures of a bank, of course your suspicious. I am a photographer but we need to have a common sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelli.moran1 Kelli Moran

    It must suck to be so scared of everything that you think there’s a terrorist hiding under every rock.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelli.moran1 Kelli Moran

    It must suck to be so scared of everything that you think there’s a terrorist hiding under every rock.

  • http://twitter.com/fallenposters Eric Spiegel

    In my dealings with police in the US, two recent instances had the police on my side as the photographer in a public space, which gave me a nice reassurance that at least some of them understand the law.

  • http://twitter.com/Blackbird_2 Bob Dunkin

    They’ve been taking flak for it for a while.  Not too long ago, a memo was issued that basically told police to leave photographers alone UNLESS there was a real good reason to stop them.  None of the Terrorism Act BS that they’d been spreading.  Basically, from what I’ve read about this, the memo basically states what the intention of the law was, and NOT what the police themselves had read into it. 

    Though, I have to say, its quite refreshing to see cops like that.  Cheery, even though they know their time is being wasted.  Also like the blooper at the end, the cop telling him it’s a private street! 

  • http://twitter.com/Blackbird_2 Bob Dunkin

    They’ve been taking flak for it for a while.  Not too long ago, a memo was issued that basically told police to leave photographers alone UNLESS there was a real good reason to stop them.  None of the Terrorism Act BS that they’d been spreading.  Basically, from what I’ve read about this, the memo basically states what the intention of the law was, and NOT what the police themselves had read into it. 

    Though, I have to say, its quite refreshing to see cops like that.  Cheery, even though they know their time is being wasted.  Also like the blooper at the end, the cop telling him it’s a private street! 

  • http://twitter.com/Blackbird_2 Bob Dunkin

    They’ve been taking flak for it for a while.  Not too long ago, a memo was issued that basically told police to leave photographers alone UNLESS there was a real good reason to stop them.  None of the Terrorism Act BS that they’d been spreading.  Basically, from what I’ve read about this, the memo basically states what the intention of the law was, and NOT what the police themselves had read into it. 

    Though, I have to say, its quite refreshing to see cops like that.  Cheery, even though they know their time is being wasted.  Also like the blooper at the end, the cop telling him it’s a private street! 

  • Nicola

    I was stopped by the plastic plod and asked what I was doing. At the time I was taking a photo with a Rolleiflex, the camera all good terrorists use lol

  • xtf ftc

    I’d like to point out two things. It is not just photographers that suffer from the restrictions placed by private owners in so many parts of our cities; it is everyone. Sure, private property should be respected but when everything is being sold to private owners, what is there left? The second is that it is not just buildings – more and more streets, courts, parks and so on are becoming private. In such private public places, the security has the law on their side but at the same time they are can not held accountable by any independent watchdog. As a result, we are slowly losing more and more rights and this time it’s not even a perceived terrorism threat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Robinson/1466726625 James Robinson

    haha i’ve been stopped before exactly where that lady was stopped in “the city” 
    this video doesnt surprise me one bit, good on them though for standing their ground :)

  • http://twitter.com/blabbermoth Blabber Moth

    By definition, the experiment is provocative – so confrontations were expected.  I think the issue is that security guards need to justify their existence.  Aside from the occasional tramp urinating on their property — this is probably the first time some of these security guards have left their posts in weeks. 

    If the low level security knob doesn’t tell his middle manager security knob about the out-of-the-ordinary activity, then the middle-manager’ security knob’s boss will get upset and fire the manager, or both of his subordinates because they weren’t doing their job.  If the top level security knob doesn’t do anything about it, then the whole security force will be sacked by the building manager, who also has to justify his position to his superiors and so on.  Its a retarded snake eating its own tale.  Our friends and neighbors are Big Brother.

    The police were amazingly polite and reasonable!  If this was Texas the photographers would have been tasered, dragged off and never heard from again :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Marsh/674033156 Jim Marsh

    It is indeed refreshing to see our metropolitan police having caught up with the law. The problem is with the use of, shall we say, less than well educated staff as ‘security’. It should not be the role of such people to monitor anything that goes on in a public place.
    @Kitlens….Your property has already been featured world wide on Google Street View. Get over it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.mordt Bryan Mordt

    What a complete waste of police and security. It was nice to see some reasonable responses to some of the photographers. The whole notion of photography being some sort of tool for terrorists seems ridicules to me. Has there ever been a case where photography has been linked directly to a terrorist action? I think what we are dealing with here is paranoia and people just being asses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.mordt Bryan Mordt

    What a complete waste of police and security. It was nice to see some reasonable responses to some of the photographers. The whole notion of photography being some sort of tool for terrorists seems ridicules to me. Has there ever been a case where photography has been linked directly to a terrorist action? I think what we are dealing with here is paranoia and people just being asses.

  • Travis

    A word for the British authorities:

    With each story I hear about a photographer  being accussed of terrorism I lose interest in ever visiting your beautiful country,  Just some food for thought….

  • Travis

    A word for the British authorities:

    With each story I hear about a photographer  being accussed of terrorism I lose interest in ever visiting your beautiful country,  Just some food for thought….

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    It’s not the country, the cops obviously know what’s up. It is the private security. IE the wanna be cops who are trying to flex their muscles at imaginary laws.

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    It’s not the country, the cops obviously know what’s up. It is the private security. IE the wanna be cops who are trying to flex their muscles at imaginary laws.

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    It’s not the country, the cops obviously know what’s up. It is the private security. IE the wanna be cops who are trying to flex their muscles at imaginary laws.

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    It’s not the country, the cops obviously know what’s up. It is the private security. IE the wanna be cops who are trying to flex their muscles at imaginary laws.

  • Mparent_AF

    seems to me it’s the private security that is the problem, not the police.  The police seem to be sensible and actually KNOW that there is no law preventing someone from taking pictures.  I don’t know why private security people seem to think that they can ammend the law with their own corporate rules and apply it to people that don’t work for them.

  • Mparent_AF

    seems to me it’s the private security that is the problem, not the police.  The police seem to be sensible and actually KNOW that there is no law preventing someone from taking pictures.  I don’t know why private security people seem to think that they can ammend the law with their own corporate rules and apply it to people that don’t work for them.

  • Stevek

    Why are there so many foreigners telling English people not to
    rake pictures in their own Country in public places. Jobsworths.

  • http://facebook.com/swiftmed Andrew MacDonald

    I think you missed the point entirely. Its not about photographers provoking them – those security men went out of their way to approach photographers out on the street to tell them to stop filming. They have no right to do that. 

    If the photographer was INSIDE their building, then they have a point, outside in the street, they do not, hence they have no right to approach the public to have them stop taking pictures. Question… if it were tourists with your average point and shoot or iPhone taking pictures of that building in that location, do you think those security guards would have approached them? No. 

    They only did so because the photographers LOOKED like photographers. Again, they didn’t have the right, and it was refreshing to see my police force backing up the public for a change instead of standing with the security who were quite clearly in the wrong here.

  • http://facebook.com/swiftmed Andrew MacDonald

    Completely agree Eric. The police often get a bad rap, and its great to see the Police use a bit of common sense once in a while.

  • TFBeyond

    I find this stangely heartwarming. The security managers get all stressy, sure; but the police, the ones with the actual power, are calm, reasonable and well-versed in the law.
    It’s reassuring that the police in the video are as just and even-handed as you’d hope.

  • TFBeyond

    I find this stangely heartwarming. The security managers get all stressy, sure; but the police, the ones with the actual power, are calm, reasonable and well-versed in the law.
    It’s reassuring that the police in the video are as just and even-handed as you’d hope.

  • http://howgreenisyourgarden.wordpress.com/ shamb

    This link makes the rules clear, taken from the London Metropolitan police’s own website.

    http://www.met.police.uk/about/photography.htm

    If you are photographing in public places, it may be useful to have a few copies of this page in your kit bag to pass around to ‘people less well informed’ ;)

  • http://twitter.com/nourelrefai Nour El Refai

    Great work guys, I envy London for its Police though, you have no idea how it was in Cairo, Egypt
    The problem is not all photographers knows exactly what they will do with the photo they are taking in the street!! when they ask me what will you do with this photos?, I feel confused, my answer is always I love photography and I am doing it with no purpose at the moment!

  • http://twitter.com/nourelrefai Nour El Refai

    Great work guys, I envy London for its Police though, you have no idea how it was in Cairo, Egypt
    The problem is not all photographers knows exactly what they will do with the photo they are taking in the street!! when they ask me what will you do with this photos?, I feel confused, my answer is always I love photography and I am doing it with no purpose at the moment!

  • David244

    Good for the police for dealing with this the correct way,security staff go way beyond what they think they can do this video is so welcome to me,I have been challenged many times ,but only once by a police officer and he was nothing like the officers shown here.I was threatened with confiscation of ,camera and deletion of card !!

  • David244

    Good for the police for dealing with this the correct way,security staff go way beyond what they think they can do this video is so welcome to me,I have been challenged many times ,but only once by a police officer and he was nothing like the officers shown here.I was threatened with confiscation of ,camera and deletion of card !!

  • Eric from Texas

    Exactly, Travis. As much as I would love to visit the UK, they can go and wet up a rope as far as I’m concerned. I’ll not be buying anymore ale from the UK, either.

  • http://twitter.com/Soiden Sebastián Soto

    Solution: dress like a tourist.

    More seriourly, I wonder if people look at cameras as if they were guns.

  • Fumatodimaria

    uk police is 1000 times better than italian’s one! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Lynn/1071831215 Jonathan Lynn

    I don’t blame the security people for coming out and at least “checking in” with the photographers on the street. That much is reasonable. However, the whole “you can’t do this or that” part I don’t agree with. The one security guy was smart in his approach by offering to suggest better areas to get some good shots of the building (even if they wouldn’t do any good) and simply just checking the purpose of the shots (personal or commercial). If he went beyond that then I would say its an issue.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve taken photographs in and around the city of London on many occasions with many different cameras, including a tripod. I have never been stopped or asked what I was doing. Yes it happens, probably more than it should, but there’s a good chance you’ll be left alone. And if does, just stand your ground and be polite.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve taken photographs in and around the city of London on many occasions with many different cameras, including a tripod. I have never been stopped or asked what I was doing. Yes it happens, probably more than it should, but there’s a good chance you’ll be left alone. And if does, just stand your ground and be polite.

  • Darcy

    can anyone confirm the extent of the private property claimed by security staff on the pavement by County Hall, either side of the London Eye and the stretch by the ‘Beehive’ towards Tower Bridge – they are very persistent and quite rude in their manner when telling me I could neither use a tripod nor a pro camera and lens or point it in the vicinity of their buildings.  Interesting conversation with one who insisted it was a potential terrorist act to photograph the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben – understandably scared an image gets out and people find out where they are and what they look like  ;-)

  • Darcy

    can anyone confirm the extent of the private property claimed by security staff on the pavement by County Hall, either side of the London Eye and the stretch by the ‘Beehive’ towards Tower Bridge – they are very persistent and quite rude in their manner when telling me I could neither use a tripod nor a pro camera and lens or point it in the vicinity of their buildings.  Interesting conversation with one who insisted it was a potential terrorist act to photograph the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben – understandably scared an image gets out and people find out where they are and what they look like  ;-)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQ54IG5P6I73FWHYGC4LVDZQYI Michael

    Sorry what?  You’re getting so upset because of a few jumped up security guys who know nothing about the law?  Look at the reactions from the police.  Makes me feel very happy about our police.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQ54IG5P6I73FWHYGC4LVDZQYI Michael

    Didnt seem like any of the locations were particularly high profile.  I’d be genuinely  interested in seeing the reaction if they did the same outside say the US Embassy in London.