With today’s cameras and phones that can store hundreds, if not thousands of photos, taking a quick snapshot of your surroundings is almost like a reflex. We’re so used to photographing and video-recording our everyday experiences that we often forget that some places are only for the eyes to see. And no, we’re not advocating the “experience the world with your eyes, not your cameras” type of stuff. We are talking about places where photography is actually against the rules.
So, if you don’t want to get fined or have your memory card seized, here are some of the places where you should turn your camera off.
Museums with Photo-Sensitive Exhibits
People are usually allowed to take photos in museums, but some exhibits are sensitive to light, and you will therefore be asked to at least turn off your flash. This is also required so that visitors don’t turn the museum into a strobe light fest and ruin the experience for everybody.
However, some museums and exhibits ban photography altogether due to various commercial use legalities or the fact that it’s considered disrespectful. Places like the Sistine Chapel, the insides of the Taj Mahal, and Michelangelo’s David are all a big no-no to photographers. Of course, every now and again, someone does get overlooked by security and comes back with a photo of these marvels, but you should still know that it’s risky.
Airports and Country Borders
This is a rule in every part of the world, and it’s easy to see why. These are high-security risk locations, and officers wouldn’t want you to have photos of a place that somebody can use to exploit. The same goes for government buildings and military objects and installations.
Of course, you can still take photos outside the airport or in the waiting area, but security checkpoints, bag screening areas, and immigration counters usually have “no photography allowed” signs. If you do take photos here, it will be considered a serious offense, and you can even end up behind bars or get questioned in certain countries.
Taking photos of people praying in a church or a mosque may not be officially forbidden everywhere, but it’s simply rude, and you shouldn’t do it.
This does not only concern the insides of a building. For example, photographing some sacred Aboriginal sites in Australia is against the rules of the natives, so you would need their permission.
If you’re not sure whether you can take a picture of a sacred place, simply be nice and ask, and you might even get permission.
People and Their Homes
You shouldn’t really be taking photos of people in the street without their consent, but this is more the question of common courtesy than anything else.
However, you definitely shouldn’t take photos of people while they are in their homes. This is a serious attack on their privacy and they can sue you for it. The same goes for private houses and backyards.