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Thursday, 24 February 2011


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Mike, weren't you supposed to come to give some conference in Brighton or somewhere around?
That'd be a nice opportunity to get there ;-)

The fellow in the lead photograph seems to be having some difficulty with his pipe. Perhaps that's why briars and calabashes have fallen out of favor as photo accessories.

The picture of the little girls in their sequined dresses is delightful, but I wonder if it would be legal to take it now in the UK.

Is it true that you are not allowed to take any picture in public that includes a child?

Thanx Mike, this is very good news. I'll be flying to London in May and was wandering if there are any photo exhibitions worth seeing.

Looks pretty good but the big one for Street photographers is FORMAT 11 in Derby. Magnum workshops, portfolio reviews, some Vivian Maier to boot.

This is a huge event that runs from the 3rd of March until April 4th and only 60 miles from me.

How's about that for a who's who


Now Mike,

As you know, I'm one of the worlds best street photographers and writers. As a thank you for using my my work for this springs print offer, I'll write a review and get a picture of Bruce Gilden signed by Chris Steele-Perkins.

Interesting that of the 29 images shown there are none of either WW I or WW II... I would think the Blitz would merit one or two at least... Looks like a nice show though.

"Is it true that you are not allowed to take any picture in public that includes a child?"

No it's not true. You're free to shoot anybody in a public place in the UK, but obviously common sense should be used when shooting children or anybody on the street for that matter

Awesome, thanks for the heads up! Will definitely have to check it out since I'm a student in London!

Also excited for the World Photography Festival in London in a couple months (in case anyone else is interested)

Thanks Mike for the tipoff. I'm in London weekly so will surely find some time to take a look.

"Is it true that you are not allowed to take any picture in public that includes a child?" (Paris' comment, I'm assuming in relation to UK laws)

I'm not a lawyer, but the legal position is "no restriction", so long as the photograph is actually in a public place, or if not in a public place, that you have the permission of the child's parents/guardians.

The reality is that there is an undeniable suspicion of photographers among many in positions of apparent or even self-awarded authority. In recent times, this is often some spurious "security" premise, it has also cropped up many times in response to a "personal safety" agenda that seems to top-trump common sense. There have of course been a number of cases of paedophiles taking pictures of children inappropriately (including one well-known soap opera star who photographed children in a swimming pool through an underwater glass viewing panel), but the over-reaction is huge.

Brief street rules:

In public, no restriction, but don't be foolish and insist on your right in the face of an angry parent.

In a privately owned space, ask permission of the responsible adult, and of course have permission to photograph generally from the owner of the private space.

If in doubt, ask.

If challenged, expect to have to prove your right or innocence, rather than be given any benefit of the doubt. Expect the lower levels of authority (ie security guard, patrolling policeman) to automatically assume that you are a wicked paedophile, rather than someone acting within their rights. It takes a couple of weeks of public shame and whispering accusation for the more senior people in authority to come to realise that, actually, you were on the correct side of the law and should not be persecuted.

In the future there may well a huge gap in the body of English street photography.

If so it will have been caused by the state's persecution of photographers with terrorism and paedophilia used as justification. In the UK the police have put up posters saying that photographers may be terrorists so if you see one call the police. It's all about keeping the sheeple scared and pliable.

The UK is not a free country when the police can and do stop photographers, demand to see their photos, and detain the photographer. Reasonable suspicion is not a requirement in may cases, it's a case of stop-at-will.

Sadly the public have taken up the cudgels and are also persecuting photographers.


"The fellow in the lead photograph seems to be having some difficulty with his pipe."

On the contrary, he is using his pipe as third point of contact as a measure against camera shake. The photographer next to him is hanging his whole body weight from his camera, probably using his tie, for the same reason.

Basic techniques, now sadly illegal in Britain on health & safety grounds, following various tragic incidents.


Here's a very recent example:


Yes me again. Here's an even more egregious example - note the lack of any legal "justification" given by the police:


@ Paris. It is legal to take a picture of a child in public in the UK, but you're risking persecution by police and public.

Quote: Is it true that you are not allowed to take any picture in public that includes a child?

No, that's not the case at all.

The UK law allows you to take pictures in public places and doesn't limit the subject matter. However, there are far too many examples of over zealous action being taken by authorities and security guards who think they come under that description for comfort. These tend to fall into the 'Your not allowed tophotograph that...' mould.

There is also a really worrying tendency for any photographer carrying a camera at an event where children are present (school sports day for example) to be assumeed to have evil and perverted purposes. These latter assumptions are often treated in the press and even by police spokes people as being fact when they are, at best, pure conjecture rooted in fear. Of course, we don't do oursevles any favours if we seek to defend those few who do turn out to have been ill-willed or bang on about our rights rather than being responsible in our approach.

Finally, there is an increasing supposition amongst certain memnbers of the public that you ar not allowed to photograph in a public place and need some sort of licence or permit! I ran into this recently photographing some 'chuggers' in Leeds - http://photosojourner.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/chuggers/ - though they seem to be quite happy accosting people and requsting money in the same place:)


Paris: it is most definitely not illegal to include children in street photos. Urban 75 has good information, though it doesn't constitute legal advice.

Click on the link.
You can buy a print of the guy with the camera for not a lot of dough.
Again TOP delivers!

I'd like to especially note #9/29, which is the one in 300,000,000 photos of homeless people that is actually a good photo.

"On the contrary, he is using his pipe as third point of contact as a measure against camera shake."

Crikey. I hadn't thought of that! I will be buying a briar forthwith!

I'm not a lawyer, but the legal position is "no restriction", so long as the photograph is actually in a public place

Just a small matter - It is legal to shoot anything from a public place rather than in a public place.

i.e. you can be out in the street and take a photograph of someone sitting on the roof of their house or anywhere else where they can be viewed from a public place but actually be in a private place.

English law states that there is no expectation of privacy in a public space.

While we're in London, can I put in a mention (if Mike hasn't covered it elsewhere) for 'Lost London 1870 - 1945' edited by Philip Davies (English Heritage, 2009)? This is a large, stunning portfolio of extremely rare (and, in many cases, astonishingly well-preserved) views of streets/streetlife and interiors that even native Londoners will in many cases be hard pressed to place, all recording what's gone forever. And stunning testimony that Herman Goering was a flea-bite compared to the locust passage of local council 'improvement' schemes.

Unlike you, Mike, I don't often buy photography books. But I could hardly wait for this one, and I fear I'll never tire of it.

... and you can get it on Amazon US or UK, through Mike's links, of course.

One of my own encounters with the UK police while attempting street photogrpahy is described here.


Thank God I left the country, although I feel peeved, because spiritually, it's my home.

But don't you see? Taking bird photographs IS terrorist activity. They're studying which birds they can strap bombs onto. OK, I shouldn't be putting more dumb ideas into the heads of these abusive authorities. I hope Mike doesn't post this, in case one of those types reads TOP.

Actually, having glanced back up this thread and accessed a few more of these lamentable incidents, I'm beginning to get the feeling that we photographers aren't exactly being disinterested here. A couple of links posted by Mandeno Moments (who's clearly on something of a crusade-ette) reveal nothing more sinister than polite interventions in situations when anyone other than a photographer might think something funny was going on, and swift withdrawals once the business of the 'persecuted' party had been confirmed. The case with the Italian student was worse of course, but I've seen no evidence to suggest what happened to her is in any way typical.

I used to live in London and habitually wandered with my camera. These days, when I return, I still try to find time to take photographs of buildings (I'm not a people person, so to speak). I've been stopped just once in the past two years by one of the Filth's finest. He asked what I was doing and I told him 'just buggering around in old haunts'. He asked to see what I'd taken, and I obliged. I actually got praise for a couple of the shots. He then gave the customary, semi-apologetic explanation of why he'd stopped me, and then moved off, leaving me to continue. Now, I may be a thick-skinned lackey of the Establishment, but I regard the incredibly minor inconvenience I suffered to have been an acceptable trade-off in view of the actual (not imagined) terrorist attacks that this city has suffered over the past 30-40 years, to which al-Qaeda are only the latest contributors (my wife's then-offices were powderized by the IRA's Bishopgate bomb back in 1993, so I may not be entirely disinterested myself).

There's an important debate to be had about the trend of restrictive legislation in the UK. But a lot of what I've read re: 'persecution' of photographers reads very much like special pleading.

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