photography restrictions in Churches and museums

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by zxcvar, Sep 18, 2004.

  1. zxcvar

    zxcvar Guest

    I plan on going to Paris and London in the near future. Are there any
    restrictions on taking pictures inside the churches and museums and
    other important buildings in the UK and France?

    zxcvar, Sep 18, 2004
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  2. zxcvar

    Graham Guest

    In the UK flash is frowned upon in churches for obvious reasons. As
    are tripods for public safety reasons...blocking the flow of visitors
    and obstructing emergency access, also tripods can damage floors
    which may be centuries old.
    Graham, Sep 18, 2004
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  3. Rules vary from place to place. Well known and visited churches may
    have rules posted. Most museums will have rules posted or on your ticket.

    I suggest first of foremost keeping in mind the nature of the place. In
    all areas you don't want to block others use/enjoyment so you need to stay
    out of the way, and don't do anything that would detract from the dignified
    environment of the place. Often this means not using tripods etc.

    There are some locations that welcome photographers and do not object to
    tripods. From my experience, you don't know until you get there what it may
    be like.
    Joseph Meehan, Sep 18, 2004
  4. zxcvar

    Phil Wheeler Guest

    Generally do not plan to use flash nor tripod (one reason I like image
    stabilization or high ISO).

    Some churches may prohibit photography or charge a fee.

    Phil Wheeler, Sep 18, 2004
  5. zxcvar

    F I Nishing Guest

    I understand there's no photography permitted in Westminster Abbey,
    which is a big disappointment to many of its visitors. Most of the
    other cathedrals in England permit photography, should you happen to
    stray from London, and Winchester has a particularly fine one. If it's
    not Sunday you probably won't find many of the churches unlocked.
    F I Nishing, Sep 18, 2004
  6. zxcvar

    Greg Shannan Guest

    I've taken a lot of pictures in Cathedrals and Churches through France. I use a
    small "hiking" tripod that is about 6" long. It either sits on the floor, or,
    mostly, clamps onto a seat. I think generally it's a bad idea to use flash in
    these places (it can be inconsiderate). I've never had any objections, or, for
    that matter seen any signs (in churches and cathedrals). Art museums would
    probably complain, though.

    .... Greg Shannan
    Greg Shannan, Sep 18, 2004
  7. "No photography" is much more unusual than "no flash". Some places
    collect a fee if you use any sort of tripod and they catch you. One
    that I seem to remember was Chartres cathedral. I now have a little
    Nikon 3200 that does surprisingly well in its "Museum" setting: no
    flash, takes a series of pictures and selects the one that seems least
    fuzzy to the software.
    James Silverton, Sep 18, 2004
  8. zxcvar

    Alan Meyer Guest

    In my experience, most art museums restrict photos.
    Some will even seize your camera if they see you walk
    in with one, and give it back to you when you leave.

    I think the problems are that they sell the photographic
    rights to the artwork inside, and they sell images in their
    museum shop. To allow anyone to take photos could
    cost them money in both areas.

    This kind of problem can also exist at palaces and other
    (especially privately owned) tourist sites.

    Alan Meyer, Sep 18, 2004
  9. zxcvar

    Phil Wheeler Guest

    I've seen that only rarely (e.g., Academmia in Florence) in public
    museums, but frequently in private gallerys (e.g., at Andros in the
    Aegean in May). In Paris 2-3 years ago, no problem in Louvre, Musee
    d'Orsay, Rodin, Picasso museums (with no-flash shooting).

    More problems in churches, especially those which are also locations of

    Just my experience, and it could change quickly.

    Phil Wheeler, Sep 19, 2004
  10. zxcvar

    SamSez Guest

    Many cathedrals in the UK "require" a photography permit prominently displayed
    [available for a few pounds from the gift shop]. Most UK historic homes have
    forbidden interior photography completely [the most common explanation being
    that photos were being taken to produce 'what to steal' lists, though no two
    stories seem to agree exactly].
    SamSez, Sep 19, 2004
  11. zxcvar

    Hugh Jorgan Guest

    Westminster Abbey doesn't allow it, but if you're very discreet you'll be
    OK. If you get caught they just ask you politely to stop. Of course if you
    have a relative buried in the floor of the place, which my wife has, they do
    the old Look-around-for-the-boss trick (shouldn't they be looking up too?)
    and let you snap a few shots quickly.
    Notre Dame, pretty much anything goes. Flash, tripods, as long as you don't
    start hanging off statues looking for a better angle they let you go. The
    walk to the roof is very much a sheep run of tourists, but you can get some
    good shots with a long lens when you're up there.
    Hugh Jorgan, Sep 19, 2004
  12. zxcvar

    Charlie Self Guest

    Some US houses are the same way: Wright's Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob homes
    in Pennsylvania are examples. The rationale is simple: they sell interior shots

    Charlie Self
    "Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for
    President. One hopes it is the same half." Gore Vidal
    Charlie Self, Sep 19, 2004
  13. zxcvar

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Same for Biltmore. Unfortunately, the picture CDs have only a very few
    shots of the interior, and you can take as many shots of the grounds and
    conservatory as you want. Sure would have liked to get some of the
    interiors. Oh well, they are in my memory, but it is hard to show that
    to others....
    Ron Hunter, Sep 19, 2004
  14. I was confronted by a guard at the Castellano Sforzesco in Milano who
    seemed concerned about my camera and the effect of the flash on the
    exhibits. He did allow me to take one picture though. This was back in
    1990 when I was there for the world cup games, I have no idea what
    current policy is.
    FWIW: The subject I chose was an armored knight on a horse which was
    already illuminated by several incandescent track lights that gave bad
    shadows and poor color temperature. If I had it to do again, I'd try to
    have several other inconspicuous tourist types positioned around it with
    slave triggered strobes. <g>
    Justín Käse, Sep 19, 2004
  15. Although I haven't tried it yet, my new Canon S1 IS mentions a bracket
    mode where you can do a threesome as you say the Nikon does. I believe
    (without getting out the manual) that you can select for a bracket of
    exposures or focus distance, not sure if you can extend the series to
    accommodate both.
    Justín Käse, Sep 19, 2004
  16. The Nikon takes up to 10 sequential pictures with the same nominal
    settings and the emphasis is on automatic "best shot selection" of
    sharpness rather than exposure bracketing. It's not very
    "professional" perhaps but it usually works surprisingly well
    especially when the exposure time is just a bit longer than I would
    think of hand holding!
    James Silverton, Sep 19, 2004
  17. There were no photographic restrictions when I visited
    Westminster Abbey in the early 1990's.
    In cathedrals and churches I follow rules plus propriety.
    If worshippers are present I do not take photographs.
    Visits to churches and cathedrals can be scheduled
    for periods when worship is not scheduled. Visits to
    churches can be scheduled at times when outdoor sunlight
    illuminates stained glass windows.

    I find it difficult to photograph inside large cathedrals
    (e.g., Notre Dame de Paris, late 1980's). Large cathedrals
    often do not have extensive windows, the interior is not
    brightly illuminated, and the interior is so extensive
    that a high powered consumer grade flash is not adequate.
    At cathedrals I take exterior pictures -- I love gargoyles.

    Most museums post rules concerning photography.
    Most museums prohibit flash photography. I have
    had good luck with high speed (i.e. ASA 800, late 1990's)
    available light photography inside museums. I never carry
    a monopod or tripod -- sometimes I lean against building
    interior pillars while I take photographs.

    I have provided rough dates for my experiences because
    I have not traveled recently.

    'Hope that helps.

    Richard Ballard MSEE CNA4 KD0AZ
    Richard Ballard, Sep 19, 2004
  18. zxcvar

    John Guest

    Just a quick correction - I was at Notre Dame last weekend, and they now
    restrict flash photography (justification is there are folks there who have
    come to worship). Same restriction at the Louvre (for different reasons,
    obviously), though the herd around the Mona Lisa were flashing away merrily.
    .. .

    - John
    John, Sep 19, 2004
  19. zxcvar

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    You know, I wouldn't mind paying a (reasonable) fee for a photo permit, but
    if they're going to expect me to pay for access, I expect to have access
    normally unavailable to a tourist -- off-hours when the place is empty,
    for example, or access to areas normally off-limits. If they want me to
    pay and still be a regular tourist, they can bite me. I'll shoot until
    they kick me out.
    Jeremy Nixon, Sep 19, 2004
  20. The UK National Trust has a strict "no interior photography" rule. They
    claim it's to stop thieves taking pictures to aid robbery, which is of
    course a lie - it's to protect sales in the shop. It's utterly shameful,
    given that almost all their properties were left to the nation in wills
    to make them available to the public, and they should be drummed out of

    The British Museum - one of the best in the world - has a relaxed view
    on photography. Don't know if they allow flash (I always avoid it where
    possible anyway) and I don't imagine they would allow tripods. A fast
    lens and fast film (or high ISO setting on your digital camera) should
    suffice for many items. I have taken excellent photos of the Elgin
    Marbles hand held with a 35mm f/1.4.

    Many art galleries would not allow photography for copyright reasons
    (for recent works) and also to protect print sales.

    Also note that in UK law any work of art, building, statue etc. which is
    visible from a public area can be photographed from there without
    breaching copyright. There is absolutely no "buildings right". In France
    the position is apparently different, and I understand some owners can
    (and do) prevent photography of exteriors for commercial purposes.

    Most smaller churches in the UK allow photography (as in my
    not-very-recent experience in France. The larger tourist spots however
    seem to be more interested in making money. Certain biblical stories
    spring to mind.
    David Littlewood, Sep 19, 2004
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