Few things irritate a photographer more than being told that they can’t take a photo of something when they’re well within their rights to do so.
Sean Batten has appealed to fellow snappers to stand up for their rights, following a particularly irking experience at the hands of security staff from the Shell Centre on the South Bank.
In a post in the Londonist Flickr pool, he said: “I was on my way to Leake Street this evening via the Southbank and ended up on the pavement opposite the Shell building. I had my camera with me with a 35mm lens on it, so rattled off a couple of shots and thought nothing of it. However, as I crossed the road, one of the Shell security guards started walking towards me. Since he was obviously going to intercept me I saved him the trouble and went over to see what he wanted.
“He asked me what I was doing (duh!) and then asked why. Since it’s none of his business I told him so. He then proceeded to ask me several times which organisation I was from and if the pictures were for commercial use. I pointed out several times that I was stood in a public space taking photos, and that I’m well within my rights to do so. He kept replying that he knew it was my right to do so, but then kept asking the same questions over and over again.
“He also insisted that the building was a ‘high security’ building, and that’s why people shouldn’t take pictures. I pointed out that if it’s that sort of building then it’s probably not a good idea to have it surrounded by public pavement.”
Now Batten is urging people to stand up for their right to take photos in public space by taking photos of the building from a public space, within eye-shot of a security guard.
“It’s entertaining for a few minutes, and it’s important that we stand up for our rights,” he says.
Photographers have increasingly been subject to unfair treatment at the hands of overly-officious security staff, either in public areas, or having fallen foul of private land laws such as at Canary Wharf.