Above: Leave it to a US company to come over and singlehandedly ruin this great country. LOL!!!! ;-)
Greetings from one of my favorite places on the planet â” London, England! I’m here today for my “Shoot Like a Pro Tour: RELOADED” seminar and I’m so excited to meet everybody (my whole family is here as well, and we’ve been having a blast!).
OK, my one day of shooting (yesterday) was a total bust!
I would have one day of shooting here before the seminar, so I came up with a list of places I’d love to shoot. At 8:30 am, we were first in line at St. Paul’s Cathedral here in London (which I might add, is one of the most spectacular cathedrals I’ve ever seen, perhaps 2nd only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome â” it was just amazing).
Where, when you walked in the front door to pay for your ticket (it’s about $28 per person for entry), you see these NO PHOTOS! signs everywhere. Of course, I saw people taking photos with their iPads, with their DSLRs, with their cell phones, etc., and there were times where we no one was looking where I could have “sneaked off a shot,” but I didn’t do it (it’s not a good example for the kids for one – we used it as a learning moment for our daughter), but I wanted to respect their rules as well. I tried to reach out to their social media folks before the trip but had no luck (they have a very active Twitter page).
Anyway, it was wonderful to see the cathedral, and if you haven’t had the chance, it’s absolutely worth seeing, even if they don’t allow photos or video.
Then, it was off to other places I couldn’t shootâ¦
Like the famous, ultramodern Lloyds of London building who wouldn’t even let me take one single shot in their lobby, or the amazing City Hall building which is open to the public, except of course for the one place I really wanted to shoot (their center atrium), which is off limits for photos, but if you Google “City Hall London” you’ll see scads of photos (here’s a link to a page with some nice photos of it).
I tried to get permission to take photos inside the Parliament building inside. No!
Westminster Abbey? No! (they don’t allow photos either)
It was pretty much a resounding NO!!! everywhere I went.
I didn’t even mention using a tripod, which is apparently results in a louder version of NO!
So, what do I have to show for my day of shooting?
That iPhone shot of a double-decker bus you see at the top.
I’ve got one more chance, Wednesday morning, so I’m trying to gain access to a couple of places for just 30-minutes (I’m trying to shoot these interiors for my first coffee table book, which is about 80% done. More on this soon).
But all is not lostâ¦
Because when I wasn’t being told I couldn’t shoot, we went all over London having fun, and I met up with my dear friends Dave Clayton and Glyn Dewis for dinner, along with my seminar crew and my friends Peter and Dave (from Hybrid Photography here in London), and we ended the day with a lovely dinner and lots of laughs.
Looking forward to meeting everybody today at my seminar (and a big thanks to everybody attending today, and to everybody who helped spread the word).
Scott, when shooting in London, one seeks forgiveness after the deed. One does not seek permission.
Yup, that’s the “entitlement mantra” of the world in which we live. Such a great society we live in, yes?
Yep – I was taught a long time ago that it is better to seek forgiveness, than seek permission!
Scott, a sincere ‘Thank you!’ for conducting yourself in an honorable manner. It not only provides a good example for the kids, but for the rest of us as well—especially representing the leadership of KelbyOne.
I must agree with KC on this one. Honorable is a great word to describe the way you portray yourself Scott. Hope to see you soon!
Sorry Scott, London is the worst and best place to photograph, we need more people to complain about this in the UK, freedom, what freedom? Hope your holiday goes well, one place that is free is the top of the walkie talkie building, but you need to book a time online and show picture ID, but its worth it.
Prohibiting photos in these places is stupid! It neither hurts or jeopardizes anyone or anything. I believe the policy is designed to give security something to do. Just watching can be boring. They should give the security people cameras and let them shoot like crazy and that would truly make the place safer.
More to do with making money from selling pictures, the church has always been a money grabbing org.
Hey Scott, I had a similar and frustrating experience in London last Spring. Head out to Bath…they let you photograph churches, public buildings, whatever you want. It felt so warm and fuzzy to be there and not rejected!
I’m guessing the whole “no picture” thing is tied to
counter-terrorism practices or something along those lines. It’s pretty
sad because when you think about it these pictures are all already out
there in the wild and adding more of the same won’t cause any additional
vulnerability. Sounds like, as in Scott’s case here, a lot of visiting
tourists and locals who are into photography are going to go home
frustrated and disappointed.
I think it has more to do with money, its the church dont forget, they want you to buy post cards ect in the shop, I am totaly against this as a christian, the bible says that you received free so you should give free, and didnt Jesus turn over the tables in the temple due to the traders inside.
Hey Scott, maybe it’s cos the locals are fed up of you referring to London England yet again!
Hey Scott, approciate that this maybe a little late and you may have left now.
If not check out my London port on mywebsite for different locations – hit me up an email and ill help out with any locations.
As for the no photos around the town hall,
i was by the enterance of HMS belfast at 4am! not a single sole around and the security guard moves me on in a very non professional and abusive mannor.
And so i contacted morelondon who own the land there, this was the response.
“Good morning Lee –
All of the More London Estates security team are trained to approach photographers on the Estate, to ascertain if the photos are for business or personal use. If it transpires that photos are for business use, then a formal application and permit are required.
Please let me apologise on behalf of the security team for the manner in which you were spoken. The security team will be receiving extra training and tool box talks on their approach to photographers and videographers, and once identified, the security guard in question will be investigated.” – assistant estate manager.
I understand from a legal point and a health and safety point of view, but the companies do try and follow a commonsense approach, its just the message fails to filter down, to the bored security staff.
Hope that you have enjoyed your time here in LONDON ENGLAND… and sorry to have missed your classes due to work commitments.
Hi Scott- Sorry that your London shoot was a bust, but your seminar today was a blast! I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed every minute of the day and you made me realise I’ve been making too many excuses for far too long! Thank you – you are, officially, The Man!
Hey Scott – I was there for your SLAPR talk – it was AWESOME, awesome,awesome – if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t been and seriously wants to move their game into the next league then they need to make it a priority.
Yes, London cathedrals and buildings are poor for photographers, but not all of them. Salisbury & Ely are breathtaking, but the most photographer friendly is Wells Cathedral in Somerset (not too far from Salisbury or Bath). I was there a while back and they were locking up at the end of the day, but one of the senior clergy asked if I’d got some photos of the Chapter House… he kept the place open for nearly an hour to allow me to get my shots (I’m only a beginner) and tell us the history, then took us for a tour of all the interesting lesser known places. Ely Was similar – they have the Lantern Tower which is one incredible photo, but it also makes a fabulous feature in a Landscape shot. So why not come over & do a tour of cathedral interiors.
Have a good flight home
Hi Scott. Sorry, but I couldn’t stop laughing as I read you post, remembering when, not so long ago, I was threatened with arrest by our local constabulary after turning up in London with a terrorist device even more despicable than a dirty bomb…….. a tripod! Attempting to photograph the exterior of the Houses of Parliament, i was approached by no less than 4 police officers who spent the next 15 minutes quizzing me about my intentions, my religion, my political affiliations and just about everything else, including my inside leg measurements! Try not to be too hard on us!!
It shows you how things have changed. I was in London for a week back in the late 90’s and took a ton of pictures of all of the places you mentioned. Only the churches had signs that said “No Flash”. Of course back then, I was still using an old P&S film camera.
It used to be a free and open place. It’s too bad the things have gone the way they have back home. Glad to see all the punters come out for your deal Scott, great outcome.
Hey Scott, was there for your seminar and did some sight seeing myself. Didn’t go into St Paul’s and Westminster for A: the price, and B: the no photos heh. Have you been to St. Bartholomew the Great? It’s about a 10 minute walk north of St. Paul’s and is very photo friendly. It’s been used in lots of movies, is quite old, and is only a 5 gbp entry fee =)
Oh my gosh Scott you would laugh at the struggles I had in London. I fell hard on my knee in the crips in St Paul Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral people were just rude. My ankles swollen from walking so much so I sat on a cement block. I got severely chastised because it was some dude’s grave. I am an amateur but I figure those people should realize how lucky they are for you to be shooting there. I am sure you would give them the photo for free in order to shoot there. BTW I love your Paris shots. Now you make me want to go there again.
I too have been frustrated by the no photos policy at various London venues and I live here.
The reason St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey do not allow photographs is more to do with the behaviour of some photographers who fail to appreciate that they are primarily places of worship. They obstruct pathways, they cannot turn off the flash on their camera, form inappropriate group shots or poses and don’t notice the signs that say don’t use tripods. When I first came to London in the early seventies you could take photos providing flash and tripods were not used (you could also walk amongst, and touch, the stones at Stonehenge) .
As you say St Paul’s is having 3 photographer days soon. They are on the 27 July, 3 August and 17 August. All Mondays more details and rules at https://www.stpauls.co.uk/visits/visits/summer/be-surprised#03 . On the St. Paul’s site you can also get a £2.50 discount on tickets and it tells you how to turn a 1 trip ticket into an annual one.
Westminster Abbey does not seem to have any similar special days but given the lead of St. Paul’s they may do it next year.
I have never had any problems taking photos in Westminster Cathedral but I abide by the no flash and tripod rules. Tip – they allow small bean bags to use as a support providing you are sensible.
Southwark Cathedral (near London Bridge Sation) allows photography providing you pay for a one or two pound permit if you are going to take more than a single snapshot. It is also not crowded so if you ask nicely you may be able to use a rubber footed tripod. It is also free to get in.
Someone mentioned the Houses of Parliament. I have never had problems taking the exterior but near it is very crowded at most times so the police will probably move you on for obstruction if you use a tripod. A few years back I went to the other side of the river with a 150mm lens (APS-C sensor so equivalent to 225mm) and took about a 300 shot HDR panorama with the HoC as the main subject whilst using a tripod. I was approached by the police but once I explained that I was amateur, it was for my own use and what I was photographing they seemed more interested in chatting about the equipment and techniques I was using and it was pleasant conversation.
A search for “UK Photographer Rights” will give you links to what you can or cannot photograph. If you are on public land it is mostly anything you can see though there are a few limited exceptions (photographing non-celeb. people coming out of a drug clinic or AA meeting would be one of them, national security etc are others. “Amateur Photographer” magazine’s website is a good source and advocate for photographers rights.