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Have you ever been told that you're not allowed to take a picture of something?
9 years ago, October 26th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #90771  
I read The Travel Camel's blogs from North Korea over the weekend, in which he talks about his tour guide strictly controlling what he took pictures of while he was in the country, and border guards on the train to China forcing passengers to delete images that they didn't want to leave the country. I also read that taking pictures of Uluru (Ayers' Rock) causes offence to the aboriginal tribes that live nearby - but only if they are taken from certain spots and at certain times of day.

Do you have any experience of photography censorship? And how have people reacted to having their photo taken in the countries you have travelled in?

J. Reply to this

9 years ago, October 26th 2009 No: 2 Msg: #90777  
I smuggled some photos out of Romania in July 1989. Taking photos of Romania out of the country in those days was illegal.

Last time I was in India, a women frowned because she thought we were going to take a photo of her. Maybe she forbids it.

I think, generally in countries with unhealthy political situations there are heavy anti photography laws, sometimes punishable by arrest, imprisonment or deportation.

When I was in Iran, I met an Australian guy who was arrested for taking a photo of an anti Israeli demonstration. They let him go soon, because of some nonsense he told about wanting to join the demonstration against Israel.



Mel Reply to this

9 years ago, October 27th 2009 No: 3 Msg: #90869  
All the time LOL

A great story was when we were doing a PADI sponsored reef clean, a Splash for Trash event and the local Cambodian Police on Koh Rung Samleom asked us for a boat ride back to Sihanoukville. Being the owner of EcoSea at the time, I always tried to help the Khmers whenever I could, I said yes...

The two policeman had their AK 47's with them and I tried to shoot a picture on my boat with the cops "Guarding the trash” that we collected and were bring back to Sihanoukville, When there are reef cleans they have people send in their trash photos for prizes like tee shirts and they said no, O well, a few minutes go by and the senior cops says you want to shoot the gun. I said yes, of course, so the staff and passengers are driving in the Gulf of Thailand having a laugh and popping rounds with the AK's.

That was always the thing in those days in Cambodia, always surreal never knew what was coming next.
Reply to this

9 years ago, October 27th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #90898  
Happens all the time... especially in temples in India. Reply to this

9 years ago, October 27th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #90917  
Arrived on foot at a little village in Vanuatu which happened to be mourning the recent death of its chief at the time. After a night drinking kava (a local non-alcoholic but mildly intoxicating drink made from the roots of a plant) with the old chief's son he took me to a sacred clearing behind the village where no one was supposed to go and showed me these rows of enormous (3 or 4 metres tall), brightly coloured and grotesque wooden sculptures of various monsters / demons / gods. Although he let me look at them he wouldn't let me photograph them. (See blog entitled: "Ambrym") Reply to this

9 years ago, October 28th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #91039  
I worked for a tour company at Uluru (Ayers Rock), and many sacred sites around Ulurua are forbidden to cameras.
We once found a camera that a passenger left behind. We went through the first few photos to see if we could recognize who it was and whose bus the passenger had been on, but instead we found photos of all of the sacred sights, including photos of the signs saying photography was forbidden. Turns out it was a couple from England, so not knowing the language was not their excuse.
Thus our moral dilema: They are not allowed to have these photos...does the tour guide delete the photos before returning the camera? (To avoid insult to the traditional owners we did delete them in the end)

I've been told in a market in Oz to not take photos...I think the lady thought I was taking photos of specifically her art, which I wasn't aiming to do! I just thought the hustle and bustle of the crowd would make a cool photo...oh well. Reply to this

9 years ago, October 28th 2009 No: 7 Msg: #91120  

Thus our moral dilema:


With all the evils happening in the world, it seems trivial and petty to apply morals to something like photo taking, especially in elaborate churches and temples that have often been fincanced at the expense of morals in the first place. I would ask the tourists to delete the photos though, to avoid the hassles your tour company might experience in future because of it. No point in having problems, just for the sake of a few tourist photos.
Reply to this

9 years ago, October 29th 2009 No: 8 Msg: #91343  
B Posts: 212
I was told off for taking photos on a train in India and was told this is not allowed, nor is it allowed on the platforms.
I was also told off for taking photos in Varanasi because it was part of what was known as a temple area, which was a large network of alleyways.
Interestingly when I was staying at the Sivananda ashram in Kerala, there was a festival one day when we all went down to the ashram community temple where the priest led the rituals (normally we were separated off all the time, so ashram guests have their own temple area). The swami (who is western incidentally) told us beforehand that on no account must we take photos of the part of the ritual that would take place inside the temple itself as it would be considered disrespectful by the priest and the ashram community.
During the last bit of the ritual, inside the temple, some people DID surreptitiously take photos anyway. I was the last person to leave the temple and the priest called out to me, 'Wait! - the photos!' I thought he was going to say people shouldn't have been taking photos, but instead he said 'Tell everyone to give me copies so I can send them all over India and show them we are the best ashram!'
Obviously there are cultural norms that certainly exist over taking photos, but from what I said above, I think this can obviously then lead to those who are not from that culture sometimes making assumptions on behalf of people about what is or isn't disrespectful. Reply to this

9 years ago, October 29th 2009 No: 9 Msg: #91345  

'Tell everyone to give me copies so I can send them all over India and show them we are the best ashram!'


Looks like he has the attitude common to many marketing folk, that 'all publicitiy is good'.
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9 years ago, October 30th 2009 No: 10 Msg: #91431  
- I'm used to taking photos on tarmacs but I wasn't allowed in Singapore and was asked to delete my photos
- Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, England because the caretaker said that they had been robbed before
- Somewhere inside the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland and most of the Libraries and Museums in Manchester
- Inside the MRT/LRT in the Philippines (but we can always sneak a shot or two.hehe)
- Most commonly in Temples and Art exhibits! Reply to this

9 years ago, October 30th 2009 No: 11 Msg: #91494  
A friend (here in Haiphong, Vietnam) was stopped when trying to take a photo of Obama's biography in the shopping centre here.

And a Vietnamese student was stopped in the same shopping centre when trying to take a picture of Kris and the rest of their class on an end of course meal out.

You just aren't allowed to take photos in either Parkson Plaza shopping centre OR Big C supermarket here.

I haven't the faintest idea why.

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9 years ago, November 1st 2009 No: 12 Msg: #91574  
B Posts: 5,187
Plain clothes security chased me down a street in Brunei after I took a street shot which included the US embassy - I deleted the photo to avoid a stupid situation. Reply to this

9 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 13 Msg: #91763  

Plain clothes security chased me down a street in Brunei after I took a street shot which included the US embassy - I deleted the photo to avoid a stupid situation.



I was yelled at for pointing my camera at the U.S. embassy in Budapest, which was absurd being that it was directly behind a memorial park and just down the street I could take all the photos I wanted of the Hungarian Parliament and get close enough to touch that building.

I took discreet photos in the Sistine Chapel and my wife "accidently" turned our video camera on as we walked through the Capuchin Brothers Monastery burial crypt. Sometimes I'll feel guilty enough to respect a host's wishes to not take photos, but for the opulent Catholic Church - never. Reply to this

9 years ago, November 9th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #92759  
Any military post or army settlement you cant photograph even if its on lovely indo -pak border -(kargil lol).you are not supposed to photograph any offical building in almost evry est african country.In bhutan you arent supposed to take photos of the paintings and budhas inside the monastery even without a flash. Reply to this

9 years ago, November 9th 2009 No: 15 Msg: #92798  
I was told not to take any picture of the bombed buildings in Belgrade, I didn't know whether to believe them so I took one anyway! Reply to this

9 years ago, November 30th 2009 No: 16 Msg: #94910  
Recently returned from China where we visited Tiananmen Square. I asked our guide if it was OK to photo a soldier. He thought about it for a few seconds and replied, "Don't ask; just take the photo". Turned out to be good advice. Later I saw a couple of soldiers being photographed professionally when a local tourist asked one of the soldiers if he could take a photo of them as well. One of the soldiers waved him off, yelled at him, and then pushed him in the back to move him on. However I, without asking anyone, took a photo of that same soldier posing for the pro. Shortly after I took another photo of a whole platoon of soldiers marching up the square - all without incident. I doubt Chinese army was threatened by my actions.
But I still obey all requests made on me by my foreign hosts -especially if its a cultural situation. e.g. Never photograph Uluru from a point that would upset the Aboriginals. Natives anywhere deserve your respect.
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9 years ago, January 5th 2010 No: 17 Msg: #98420  
Bizarrely I once almost got chucked out of a Brazilian shopping mall for daring to take pictures inside. The security guard reckoned some of the other customers might not want others knowing they'd been in there (and no, it wasn't that kind of a shop!). He didn't take it too kindly when I pointed out we were all being captured on CCTV anyway!
I've also worked on boats in Australia where we've had to warn the passengers that promotional shots were being taken on board that day, just in case the lady they were with turned out not to be their real wife after all! Reply to this

9 years ago, January 28th 2010 No: 18 Msg: #101410  

we took this at the thailan- cambodia border crossing and the guards tried to get some money from us as a result - luckily they weren't too officious and some friendly banter ensued and we didn't have to cough up Reply to this

9 years ago, January 28th 2010 No: 19 Msg: #101437  

Bizarrely I once almost got chucked out of a Brazilian shopping mall for daring to take pictures inside. The security guard reckoned some of the other customers might not want others knowing they'd been in there (and no, it wasn't that kind of a shop!).


That security guard seems like a nutcase, to me.
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9 years ago, January 28th 2010 No: 20 Msg: #101465  


this was the picture i was referring to - hope it posts correctly this time. Reply to this

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