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Simple Guide To UK Street Photography

Here are the dos and don'ts of street photography so you can capture street shots with confidence.

| General Photography



Street photography plays a key part in capturing the world as we know it, that being said, however, when it comes to the law and public photography, things can easily become a bit tricky. On the streets, you have to deal with copyright violations and sometimes angry individuals. Understanding the dos and don’ts is key when taking your camera out and about so to help you out, Copytrack has created the perfect guide to ensure you know everything you need to know so you can use your camera in public places confidently.


Freedom Of Panorama

In the UK, as like many European countries, we have the Freedom of Panorama, which makes public photography a lot easier. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is the most important legal act related to this right and Article 62 permits the creation of graphic representations, photographs or films regarding some works protected by copyright.

Public Places

In order for the Freedom of Panorama to be valid, works have to be permanently exposed in public spaces or in open spaces that are accessible to the public. A public space is a social space that is generally open and accessible to people, such as; roads (including the pavement), public squares, parks and beaches. Photographers can freely take pictures of any buildings, sculptures, models, works, artistic craftsmanship in a public place without fear of ever violating copyright. 


Graphic Work Is Not Included

Authorisation provided in Article 62 is not applied to graphic works, even if they are exposed permanently in open spaces.  According to Article 4 of the Copyright Act a graphic work is defined as “any painting, drawing, diagram, map, chart or plan, any engraving, etching, lithograph, woodcut or similar work”. So make sure to avoid snapping such creations when on the street.


Photographing People In Public

When it comes to the public, things can often get confusing and this is especially so when it comes to people, children and accidents. Luckily, in the UK, the law is clear - anyone, regardless of age or situation, can be photographed in a public place as long as they weren’t harassed in the process.


Public Transport & Photography

In short, you can shoot on public transport as a private photographer. However, according to the Transport for London, no tripods or flash can be used. You can also publish these images, however, the images must not contain clear branding of the Transport for London. If you wish to film or shoot large projects, permission is required as well as a paid permit.  


Simple Guide To UK Street Photography: Matching Suitcase

Photo by joshwa


Asked To Delete Photos

Occasionally, in seemingly public places such as shopping centres, security can get a bit antsy when they see someone using a camera. Yes, they have the right to stop you from photographing when shooting in a private place but they do not have the right to force you to delete your photos (not even the police can do that). In fact, a court proceeding is required before such action can be taken. 


Publishing Photos

So now you’ve got all these photos, what about putting them online or printing them? Well, photos taken in public places can be published and works made in public can also be used commercially as long as no copyrighted material dominates the picture. As for people and children, the same applies (so long as they are not too prominent in the picture). Children, however, can be a very sensitive topic and it's always best to ask for permission first. 


Get Out There 

Have no fear when shooting in public places. Street photography is one of the key forms of documentary photography and as result, some world-changing photos have been created. Know your rights as well as your techniques when using your camera on the street and you'll be fine. However, it's also worth remembering that despite it being legal, you still might face confrontation so be prepared to stand up for yourself in a friendly manner and always avoid aggravation.


To see more from CopyTrack, have a read of their 'UK Copyright Terminology Basics For Photographers' article. We also have advice on what to do if you find your image has been stolen and an explanation on the Creative Commons License

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