Taking photographs in public, know your rights!

The world is becoming more image focused. Driven by social media like Instagram, Flickr and Snapchat we are becoming obsessed with taking photographs. I should know as I do it too!
But in the social media frenzy to get an image posted of what you’re doing, or who you are with, it’s easy to forget the rules about what you can and cannot photograph. Hopefully none of you will fall foul of these rules, but to help you along the way, here are the basics.

Firstly, there is no rule saying what you can photograph. The general principle is that if you are on public land, you can photograph anything and anyone. Great, get your camera phones at the ready!

But before you start snapping away, there are a few exceptions to be aware of.
Firstly, it is an offence to take a photograph inside certain public buildings like a Court room. Hopefully none of you will ever appear before a court and if you do you’re unlikely to want to take a memento of the day. However if you do, don’t take a photograph! If caught you could face a fine and get a criminal record.

Secondly you shouldn’t take a photograph of a person, even in public, if they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. An example would be if you took a picture in the changing rooms of a public swimming baths. It’s a public building but a person changing would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. So no taking a cheeky selfie. If you do, anyone present who appears unexpectedly in the photograph has the right to have the photograph deleted.
Another example would be the so called “up skirting”. For those of you who don’t know, this is the act of taking a photograph under another person’s clothing, be it skirt, dress or kilt, without their knowledge. Surprisingly, this is currently not a specific offence already under the laws of England and Wales, though you could be prosecuted for outraging public decency.

Thankfully, Parliament are changing this and making this act a specific offence by adding an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, if convicted you could face up to two years in prison as well as being registered on the sex offenders register! It’s good to know Parliament are working on other important issues not just Brexit.

The rules also change if you are on private property. Most land owners won’t have a specific photography policy but if they do you need to adhere to it and can be asked to delete any photograph you take without their permission.
Like I said, hopefully none of you will fall foul of these rules, but if you do, give us a call.

JNP Legal offer a variety of legal services. Our Merthyr, Nelson & Llanishen office is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and our Merthyr Tydfil Office is open 9am – 12pm every Saturday morning.

If you are unable to attend our offices we would be more than happy to arrange a home appointment, where convenient.

We value our clients and pride ourselves on our ability to offer a first class service.

If you require our assistance with any legal matters please call us on 01685 350421 (Merthyr Tydfil Office) 01443 450561 (Nelson Office) or 02920 763211 (Cardiff Office) or contact us via email on


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s