Are you allowed to take photos on the tube?
I’ve talked about taking photos on the tube before. About how a smart phone camera allows you to get closer than ever before to capture genuine human expression. I was at a talk the other day at The Photographers Gallery by a photographer called Tom Woods who has an exhibition of his pictures of people in the 70s and 80s in his native Liverpool. It’s a great exhibition if you’re in London. Many of these photos of people were taken candidly on buses and on the street and it was interesting to hear him say that, in the 70s and 80s, it was quite difficult because more often than not people would realise he was trying to photo and he would lose their natural unguarded look. Using a flash in a night club once, he also told the story of how once when he took a shot, his subject, who had been crying, promptly slapped him around the face. With our super-unobtrusive smart phone cameras, we are able to get up close to people with so much better results.
So, yes, it’s a lot easier to get close-ups of people these days with a smart phone camera. But is it allowed? In the UK, you are permitted to take photos of anything and anybody if you are in a public space. A few years ago, laws were more restrictive but they have since been relaxed. I’ve recently been taking lots of photos of people up-close on The London Underground and I’ve been enjoying and admiring some of the excellent work by photographers like @mrwhisper and @marchaydengrant on Instagram. The law says you can take photos in public spaces - but technically The London Underground isn’t a public space. So it’s up to the people that run it whether you can or can’t take photos. So I asked them. They replied that yes, they’re basically OK with it. Here’s their policy, as set out in section 10.1 of their Working Reference Manual:
“Passengers can take photographs with small cameras for private purposes, provided flashlights and/or tripods are not used no obstruction or inconvenience is caused to staff and/or passengers.”
I’m sure it says somewhere here… Ah yes, here it is. Yes, you’re allowed.