London - No cameras in St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey

Discussion in 'Travel' started by dan_south, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. The Abbey isn't particularly photogenic, but I was really looking forward to taking some shots in St. Paul's Cathedral with my D700. Bummer! The weather was PERFECT, too! Should I have bribed the security guards?
    For an entry fee of $20 for St. Paul's and $30 for Wesminster Abbey, you'd think they'd let you take a few lousy snapshots! (Steam vents from both ears...)
    Is this what our everybody-has-a-cell-phone-camera society has brought upon us? Are snapshooters such a public nuissance that they've ruined it for the enthusiasts?
  2. A simple check of their web site and you would have found out that you are not allowed to take photographs. They also explain the reasons why they don't allow photographs.
    Most places with no photography rules will still allow you to take a camera inside as long as you agree not to use it.
  3. Uh, yeah, I guess I could have looked this up if I had some idea that they'd restrict photography so severely. I just spent a couple of weeks in France and took pictures of all kinds of lovely buidlings.
    According to the Abbey website:
    It can disturb other visitors' experience of the Abbey.​
    So can the tour groups.
    Flash photography is bad for conservation.​
    I think we all understand this, and most of us have figured out how to take a photo without flash.
    It holds up the movement of visotors when there are lots of people in the Abbey.​
    Agreed. It's a difficult place to maneuver under the best of circumstances. Maybe limiting the number of entrants would solve this problem.
    We have to be careful about and protect whtat the image of the Abbey is used for - with digital photography and Photoshop it is easy for someone to use the image in a way that we aren't happy with or to advertise or promote something.​
    Amazing. They mention Photoshop by name. I wonder if Adobe would consider this to be libelous. :) What's to prevent someone from taking a photo of the OUTSIDE of the Abbey and using it in an ad or for questionable purposes? Maybe they should just hide the entire structure in a big tent.
    We can't be sure what is for personal use and what is for professional.​
    In other words, if we don't get a cut, you don't get a shot.
  4. I'm not saying I agree with their position but they run the thing so it's their rules.
    Flash photography is bad for conservation.
    I think we all understand this, and most of us have figured out how to take a photo without flash.​
    If "we" means people on then sure but based on my experience the vast majority of people have no idea how to turn the flash off. I've been in museums, churches, and other places that say no flash photography. I ask if I can take pics without flash and they say okay. Then I see tons of people using their flash. I was on a photo tour in Antelope Canyon. The guides kept telling other people on normal tours to turn off their flashes and the response was "I don't know how to do that."
    When I was in Italy some cathedrals allowed photography and others didn't. I've been to many Hindu temples that don't allow photography so the fact that Westminster Abbey doesn't isn't a big surprise.
  5. When I was in the Sistine Chapel last month, the rule was "no photography." Nevertheless, dozens of people were pointing their P&S cameras at the ceiling with the flash on. Eventually someone came over and told them to stop. Meanwhile, I kept taking photos without flash and got some decent shots even though they were from-the-hip.
    Why the no photo rule? Because the Vatican was annoyed that photos were showing up on the net and some were sold. I think the key word is sold. Many of these places (museums, galleries, churches, etc) don't like the fact that tourists are selling photos. Yes, the same tourists who paid a fee to get in. OTOH, these organizations make money by selling their own photos and books so I can see their side. Don't agree with it but I can see it.
  6. I just object to charging people to go to a church (And yes I know all about collections and thithing etc).
    My rant.
  7. A lot of big churches, in particular cathedrals, have a no-photo policy, or at least a 'no-SLR'. I've experienced this in Trier, Germany, where I was stopped by a security guard with a DSLR and a tripod. He informed me that I was not allowed to take photos with a tripod, as it 'disturbs the spiritual peace and the emotion of prayer' (this was not during mass, mind you!), but I had every right to shoot with flash.
    I asked him whether he was aware that flash is not an option in places with lots of art that needs to be conserved, but he wasn't too bothered about that....
    Nevertheless, most places here do not charge entry fees. And as far as I know, you can still visit High Mass in St Paul's, but without a camera and with no money.
  8. david_henderson


    Look, these places are effectively private. They can set what rules they want. Its stupid, mean, pathetic and all that but the only sanction you have is not to go in, not to pay them for admission. Personally whilst I do sometimes go into places with no intention to photograph, if I do want to take pictures and it turns out that I can't then I walk away- I won't give them money unless I get to do what I want.
    I must admit I can understand the tripod thing though simply from a crowds perspective. If you turn up at any major attraction without the means to get the photographs you want without a tripod then I might consider that lack of foresight.
  9. Flash photography is bad for conservation.​
    I don't believe there's any evidence that this is the case, and there are good reasons for believing it not to be the case, particularly if the object being photographed is not already kept in a strict light-controlled environment.
    UV content of flashes is either low, or non-existent (if your flash tube has a yellowish tint it is gold coated to filter out UV) and the amount of visible light in a single small-camera flash exposure is of a comparable level to, say, daylight over a duration of 1/50 second - by common sense comparison to shutter speeds without flash exposure. Under the not unreasonable assumption of reciprocity or near-reciprocity for damage by visible light, it follows that 1 close-up flash every minute for 12 hours solid adds the equivalent light exposure of about 15 seconds of daylight. If the interior of the abbey is suceptible to damage by an extra 15 seconds of daylight per day, they should close the curtains.
  10. Last time I was in Canterbury cathedral, photography was allowed but you had to buy a permit. No flash though which is understandable.
  11. Its okay to take pictures in the Cloisters of the Abbey. Or at least it was when I was there (I asked two different people working there before I pulled out my camera). The most important reason I heard while I was in England was that they wanted to retain rights to all photos of the interior of the buildings, so they didn't want anyone taking pictures.
  12. Picture of the actual court yard.
  13. As a Londoner I agree it is sad tha St Pauls bans photography inside. But if you want to take photos in a cathedral in the UK I suggest some of the out-of-town locations. Most require a small payment of perhaps 5 GBP which I think is fair enough given the cost of upkeep of these places. My favourite s Ely though Norwich, Canterbury or Exeter are beautiful too.
    In London why not try some of the less touristy places such as St Bartholomew the Great (used as a film location in several films) or any number of the Wren Churches such as St Stephen Walbrook, or St Brides Fleet Street. These are always less crowded, more intimate in feeling but of course a lot smaller. These were built after the great fire of london in 1666 to replace the medieval churches which were burnt down. Christopher Wren perfected many of his techniques later used on a giant scale at St Paul's. For example the dome of St Stephen's Walbrook is quite small but Wren used it to develop the skills needed for the big one.
  14. Steve Smith "Last time I was in Canterbury cathedral, photography was allowed but you had to buy a permit. No flash though which is understandable."
    Photography is permitted in and around Canterbury Cathedral without a fee as long as it is for personal use. A fee is payable for commercial photography, which must be arranged in advance. (The policy can be found on their website
    I visit often with "professional gear" and have never been questioned about commercial photography etc.
    You cannot photograph in the crypt however.
    I highly recommend visiting the place. Great photo opportunites. Here's one I prepared earlier.
  15. Colin,
    Thanks for the tips! Next trip!
  16. "Are snapshooters such a public nuissance that they've ruined it for the enthusiasts?"
    No, the world has been taken over by control freaks .... that explains 'everything' .
  17. Or you could travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, for your next photo trip.
    No restrictions in the Cathedral of St. Louis, King of France
    in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, but the cathedral
    is closed on Fat Tuesday on the last day of Mardi Gras.
    The Original cathedral was destroyed in a fire in 1788.
    Re-built between 1849 and 1851.
  18. Forget the Anglican venues. Most RC churches do not prohibt photograhy, or if they do, the rules are honoured more in the breach. Check out any of the major patriarchical basilicas of Rome: St. Peter's, the Lateran, St. Mary Major, St. Paul Outside the Walls. No one stops you regardless of the rules. Yes, in the Sistine Chapel, it's forbidden, but everyone snaps away, and no one will confiscate your camera or throw you in a dungeon. Enjoy!
  19. I find this interesting as I am considering a photography exhibit when I get back from my trip to London, Venice, Florence and Paris and wondering what the laws are.
  20. I had no trouble in France nor Switzerland. Flash was useless in most of the places anyway. I left my tripod behind as I was unable to take it in a few places so I just stopped taking it.
    Notre Dame:
    Notre Dame:
    Palais de versaille:
    Palais de versaille:
    And, the coolest stain glass ever from Bern:
  21. I've just run into this obstruction. I need to hear a good reason though and if not given a valid reason it makes me feel subversive. I don't want to be told "you can photograph the cloisters". "You can go and photograph a provincial cathedral." Blow that. I undoubtedly shall, but I want the inside of Westminster Abbey. I'm not using flash, I'm not disturbing other visitors or causing an obstruction, I'm not going to use my pictures commercially and I don't want to buy their lousy postcards. I think it's high handed and random and I need a better reason than any that they're offering. If other cathedrals can allow non-flash photography, then why not Westminster Abbey and St Pauls? Neither do I get "It's their place, they can make their own rules". NO IT'S NOT! It doesn't belong to them. It belongs to the British people. These buildings belong to the nation. That's me. And anyway if I weren't a Brit I'd still expect to be able to photograph Westminster Abbey. CROSS.......

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