The hazards of street photography

This delightful crocodile of children in a park was glimpsed while cycling to work. As I pressed the button it passed through my mind that one of the teachers might use a mobile phone to call the police to check out on a cycling photographer with an unhealthy interest in children.
I rarely spend a day taking photographs in London without being told that the section of street on which I am standing is private property and photography is not allowed. In the rest of the world I can only remember being told not to take photographs on five occasions (including once in Japan and once in China). So London leads the world in something – albeit in a totally wrong direction.
Meanwhile I can guess what the policemen said when they arrested Rebekah Brooks today: ‘We are arresting you on suspicion of bribing us’ (or was it ‘I am arresting you on suspicion of bribing me?’ Rebekah was the chief executive of News International until last Friday. What destinies await these happy children?

11 thoughts on “The hazards of street photography

  1. Grant

    Hi Tom, watched a programme a while back about this, no such thing as standing on private property, buildings etc that can be seen from a public space are allowed to be photographed. Only MOD etc places have restrictions.

    A case of security guards pushing their limited power about.

    The children may have a chance if they get Murdoch and his like out of politics. How many politicians have a cloud of blackmail thrown over them?

    At least the News Of The World has gone, imagine a world were Fox News did not exist, right wing, paranoid, selfish, clap trap that it is.

    Great picture by the way. Alas this is what poor sensationalism has done to our beautiful country.

  2. Christine

    The usual predictions in urban planning for the future include population increase, higher residential densities in inner city areas, better connections between activities and transport, containing urban growth by setting boundaries and the protection of open space. Yet if Edward Glaeser is correct pockets of population decline in cities is an equally important part of the equation. [ ]

    If this is London 2012 [ ]…

    …and if this You tube clip is correct, it would seem that Parliament Square would be in deep shadow at least some of the time [ ] because of the increasing height of skyscrapers,

    …so what will 2030 bring?

    Here are a few ideas.[ ] Boris Johnson would be interested to note that Ken Livingston features strongly in future predictions! Will it be back to the future for London?

    Perhaps the task should be to imagine a happy future for London children rather than just trend predictions and projections to 2030?

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Hey! That video clip of London 2012, commissioned by the London Development Agency, contains film of the very actual spot, in front of Canary Wharf Underground Station, where I was issued with a police ticket for taking an unauthorised photograph!

      Re the Britain from Above clip, one of the many things London needs is a well-considered High Buildings Policy. Paris has done this ever-so-much-better than London by restricting building heights within the Boulevard Périphérique (though I believe the policy is now being relaxed).

  3. Tom Turner Post author

    Sir Paul Stephenson resigned from his job as head of the Metropolitan Police yesterday, presumably after being stung by the above sarcasm, but said nothing about regretting the harassment of street photographers during his time in the job.

  4. Christine

    Are street photographers considered similarly to Paparazzi? [ ] Are there any similarities between this current scandal involving journalists and the events surrounding Diana’s death?
    [ ]

    In the late 1990s the intrusions into people’s privacy were mostly physical, with the increasing prevalence of digital technology intrusions into people’s privacy are increasingly virtual.

    Is there a landscape or urban design solution to this problem as it exists in the physical environment? Perhaps.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I think society should hold to the principle that what takes place ‘in public’ is available for the public to see – and to photograph. The availability of recording technology should not affect the principle – though it should make people much more careful about what they do and say.

  5. Tom Turner Post author

    Grant, you can photograph anything from a public place but a landowner can stop you taking photographs on private land. I was once issued with a police ticket for taking photographs in front of Canary Wharf Underground Station. The police (they were not private security guards) told me that it was private land, with public access, and that photography was forbidden. I decided to buy a carbon copy recipt booklet so that I could issue them with tickets in return (but I did not do it!).

  6. Christine

    I agree with the idea of a High Buildings Policy. It would be interesting to study different cities for example New York, Paris, Moscow, Berlin and Hong Kong to understand the relationship between street patterns, open space, climate, sun paths, weather patterns etc and the impact of the shape and height of buildings on the public realm.

  7. Christine

    ps. Although the science is important, it is the qualitative aspects on the liveability and sustainability of cities of the implications of streetscape design in urban design that is concerning me here.

  8. Jerry

    Very cute! This crocodile of children,if the world is full of children and it may make less bad things happen! Or, if the world only have women and children, it also could be better!

  9. Tom Turner Post author

    The Scandinavian countries have a high proportion of female politicians and the system works well: they are among the best governed countries in the world.
    I wish the Americans (and the British) had learned this lesson when trying to re-build Iraq. The first decision after the ill-fated Iraq War of 2003 should have been that for a 5-year period only women should be allowed to hold senior political and government jobs. A similar problem might solve Africa’s problems – and every African I have put the idea to has been in 100% agreement!


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