Photography Street Words

A Photographer’s rights around the world

Do you recklessly walk around urban areas with your camera like I do? Are you worried?

A few days ago I received an email from John Hennessy asking me about street photography and especially what rights and responsibilities do I as a photographer have when out with my camera on the street.

Many moons ago I linked to this article on photographers rights in Ireland but it’s worth revisiting again because of the comments added since. Comment 11 by Bill is especially useful going into further detail about different scenarios but also making it obvious that the law really hasn’t been tested or is complete.

Irish law has been quite grey in a few areas when in comes to photography and publication of certain types of photos. For example the taking of a photo of a garda while on duty is not illegal however the publication of said photo is, if the member of the force is identifiable.

The photography of minors is a very dangerous area for any photographer and one area I avoid like the plague.

Blasphemy is still illegal in this country, therefore pictures that are considered so will get you into all sorts of hot stuff. This extends to artistic photos too.

A post on Digital Photography School asks Do Photographers have Rights? There are links to photographer’s rights articles from around the world so if you’re going to do a little traveling it might be a good place to start before you get into trouble!

Jpg Magazine’s issue 9 was dedicated to street photography and Chris Weeks reviewed it. You can download a PDF sample of the issue which I have done, but I haven’t got around to reading it yet. Chris likes it but he doesn’t pull any punches in his review. His review is harsh but I’m tempted to subscribe now..

By Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Twitter.

3 replies on “A Photographer’s rights around the world”

You have put your finger on why I photograph so many trees, gardens
and natural scenes. It is quite tiring to work out if posting photos of
people is going to cause stress if they should find a photo posted on the

I had a very interesting debate in a chat room about this subject last year.
Street photography should be full of passers-by and lively human interest.
However, I tend to try to take photos of buildings which do not include the
human form. It can create a rather strange sense of emptyness.

Very much enjoy your blog. Thank you.

M Buckley

Thanks for sharing that. It is stressful, and in the heat of the moment when my finger hovers over the shutter button I sometimes look up feeling guilty that I can capture this moment without anyone knowing, or fearing that someone will know and react negatively.

I do have a positive story about this though and I summarised it in a comment on the DPS post above. Last Christmas Gary found a photo I took of his parents. He was on his way back from the UK and was browsing the net looking for a gift for them. I sent him an email and offered him the original jpeg file so he could make a decent print of it.
I presume they liked it because I haven’t heard anything back from Gary!

I sort of remember the day I took that photo. I was shooting with a reasonably wide 18mm (really 24mm or so with the 1.6 crop factor) and was almost standing right in front of them. It was touch or go as to whether I’d make the shot or not. I’m glad I hit the shutter button and captured them in a relaxed and natural pose.

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