12 September 2009

Freedom to Photograph – Reclaim Our Shopping Centres

Few people know about the restrictions on photography in ‘public’ spaces like shopping centres unless they have been frog-marched out of Canary Wharf, Westfield or the Arndale Centre by burly security guards.

These private shopping meccas welcome people spending their money but threaten to call the police if they bring out a camera.

We have picked a typical shopping day in September to highlight to the public these ‘photo free zones’ and we encourage all photographers, amateur and professional, to Flashmob their local shopping centre on Saturday 12th September at 3pm. Or come to the flashmob in London.

The Brief

At 3pm on the dot everyone will take their cameras out and start photographing something interesting, this might be:

  • The hundreds of other photographers
  • A puzzled security guard trying to work out what’s going on
  • Security Guards trying to stop someone from taking photographs
  • Interesting architectural features

Wait a sec, is this legal?

Ok, well sort of. It’s not illegal!

Canary Wharf and many other shopping centres around the country are owned by private companies who can set any conditions on entry, most of the time this includes no photography.

However as we will just be ordinary citizens who happen to be carrying cameras and taking them out at the same time an offence isn’t committed unless you refuse to leave. You could download our bust card just in case!

Trespass is a civil offence so you can’t be arrested for it.

It’s probably a good idea if you don’t turn up looking like a Terrorist, that will get us into trouble and that isn’t cool.

London – Canary Wharf

Facebook Event Google Map



If you can rally a good number of people in your city for your own flashmob event announce it using the #PHNATMob hashtag on Twitter or on our Facebook page.

Get in touch with us and we’ll help you promote it.

Posted by A Photographer

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Filed under: Events, Featured

  1. Pamela Damiana Cito says:

    Being free to photograph is essential, because images are often the only way to demonstrate what happen all around the world, especially in countries where there are wars and all kind of crimes.
    Remember that some conflicts or extraordinary events are in our mind thanks to a lot of hard work to take pictures.

  2. Tim Topple says:

    Are we meeting at a specific point? it’s a large centre, surely we need to ‘pack’ for it to be effective?

  3. KJ says:

    “It’s probably a good idea if you don’t turn up looking like a Terrorist, that will get us into trouble and that isn’t cool.”

    Anyone else see the irony here?

  4. Mark says:

    This is not only an issue in the UK. I have been stopped and questioned by the Austin, Texas police department for taking photos of people in a public park.

    REMEMBER: Photography is not a crime.

  5. Nedine says:

    I unfortunately missed this, wish I’d seen it before as I would have attended an event. Are there any photographs of it and if so where were they published? I’d like to feature it on my blog if that’s possible. . .

  6. shahid says:

    What does a terrorist look like exactly? Wasn’t that a very odd thing to say? Are Muslims welcome? If I had a beard, should I stay away?

  7. Simon says:

    AM really keen to get involved in one of these!
    When’s the next one in London??

  8. Mr Shitaki says:

    I came to comment about the… “It’s probably a good idea if you don’t turn up looking like a Terrorist, that will get us into trouble and that isn’t cool.” I’m glad I’m not the only one who found it odd. Glad to see you’re about freedom of photography, not so glad to see you aren’t about propagating the protection of a bit more basic of our other human rights.

  9. Dr lingox says:

    New book by British based documentary photographer. (HEADS UP FOR STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN GB)

    Pogus Caesar launches ‘Sparkbrook Pride’ photographs of the diverse residents living and working in Sparkbrook an the inner city area of Birmingham, United Kindgon. The foreword is written by acclaimed poet, author and activist Benjamin Zephaniah.


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