Monday, February 20, 2012

ALERT: Photography ban in central London

More bad news for photographers with big cameras in London.

Not content with being part of an Olympics plot to rob us unofficial (uncredited) photographers the right to take our big cameras into London 2012 venues, there are now plans to bring in costly permits for those wanting to take photographs around Trafalgar and Parliament Squares.

Having photographed in both these locations for projects, I can put my hand on my heart and say: This is bloody outrageous.

A permit to photograph one of the world’s major tourist destinations? And you think things are bad in France?

In short, these are the plans of the Greater London Assembly: To introduce new bye-laws requiring permits for commercial photography and filming.

As well as being a huge kick in the teeth to the media industry who will no doubt go to public spaces elsewhere until a city-wide permit is required, this will also surely impact on the amateur and documentary photographer.

For a start, place your own tripod in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square and see how fast the wardens swarm on you.

Even if the tripod is for your own personal photography won’t matter. You will be challenged, bloc ked and made to feel like a terrorist on an al-Qaeda reconnaissance mission.

I would argue that even if the tripod was put there by a professional, no-one should be reprimanded. Shouldn’t the creative industries be encouraged?

Trafalgar Square is a public place. Why would the GLA want to alienate photographers – which include tourists – in a city which relies so heavily on tourism?

I have been challenged by security guards on three separate visits to London in recent years. Taking photos in Rome, Istanbul, Antwerp, Vienna and Venice I received no such negative attention. London Town is going backwards.

At present English Heritage patrol Trafalgar Square, hunting professional photographers while seemingly ignoring tourists.

Will photographers now need to wear Bermuda shorts and pose as tourists to do their work?

The GLA have made noises that news photographers will not be stopped. But how is a warden going to know the difference. There are already strict guidelines for what the police can and, more importantly, can’t do to photographers – yet some ignorant police officers still frequently act illegally.

This plan is the recipe for the same disaster.




Ben Smith said...

To the best of my knowledge Trafalgar Square is already covered by a buy-law requiring a permit for commercial photography / filming. You can read my experience of being bullied out of the square by a warden who disrupted some hobby video I was taking with friends here:

Ben Smith said...

*edit "bye-law". Damn fingers... :-)