Are You Allowed To Take Photographs In Public?

Is being able to take photographs in public a basic right of all people?

What happens if law enforcement tells a photographer to stop taking photographs in public?

Is photography protected under freedom of speech?

Here are the rights of photographers.

A photographer can take photos in public areas. It is a basic constitutional right.

According to the ACLU these public areas include:

  • Transportation facilities
  • Outside of federal buildings
  • Police and government officials on the job

Can police officers make you stop taking photographs in these public areas?

While the answer should be no, often times that's not what happens in real life. If a law enforcement official sees a photographer taking photos of something they don't want photographed, they have been known to  harass and intimidate the photographer. Sometimes they'll even go as far as to arrest them.

What can a photographer do when a law enforcement officer tries to make them stop photographing? Photography of public spaces is protected under free speech.

There are a few things photographers can do to keep law enforcement in line:

  • Video and audio recording of the incident
  • Blogging and social media
  • Reporting to local newspapers and news outlets
  • Lawsuits and litigation

For more information about your rights and regarding a specific case, consult with a knowledgeable attorney.


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