Had a press release come through from TfL gushing about their improved service for film makers and the setting up of a dedicated film office.

Great if you want to make films, but what about the remaining 99.99% of people who want to take still image photos?

Do we get a look in?


As usual, the amateur photographer is left in a weird limbo land where there isn’t a clear rule. As DiamondGeezer noted the other day, a photography competition being run by TfL stated that photography on the tube network is FORBIDDEN.

However, chat over on District Dave notes that general photography is not explicitly banned and that a memo was added to the tube staff’s internal newsletter last year which says that general photography is permitted.

Add to that the many signs dotted around the tube network stating that “flash photography” is forbidden – but rarely commenting on other forms of photography. Indeed, by inference, non-flash photography seems to be permitted.

Now, I could buy a £30 monthly photography permit, but that seems to be aimed at student groups or professionals, and regardless of my pretensions, I am most certainly not a professional. You also have to seek permission from the station every time you visit, which is a bit much if you are standing on a platform and see something you want to take a quick snap of.

Regular readers may recall a nasty incident last year at Clapham Common station with photographers.

I understand the problem with flash on the underground, and support the ban on that – but a total ban on photography in general just seems daft. No one at TfL has ever come up with a defensible reason for the ban, and with the contradictory statements on the issue, isn’t it time they put some effort in to liaising with photographers to come up with sensible and usable rules?

I will accept the ban on tripods, although I would be interested to know why TfL thinks a small tripod at the far end of the platform causes more problems than a tourist with two large suitcases blockading the middle of the platform.

So come on TfL – do the same as you did last year with the Bloggers Briefing and pull in some photographers to discuss the problems and come up with a sensible set of rules for us amateur hobbyists.


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with: , , , ,

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

  1. “the setting up of a dedicated film office”. Eh? I worked for TfL for over a year from October 2007 and they already had a “dedicated film office” even then.

  2. LOL I notice on their list of films that have featured the Underground that they dont include that dreadul Mackenzie Crook film from last year about the tube driver getting made redundant for being involved in suicide attempts. That one caused a big hoohaa internally, I can tell you.

    • David says:

      Actually a pretty good film – sensibly done. I don’t think it really deserved any of the fuss it caused and I do wonder if many of the people kicking up that fuss had actually seen it – or were they just linking the words ‘tube’ and ‘suicide’ in their brains and then spouting off?

  3. IanVisits says:

    Although most of the public comments about that “dreadful film” seemed to come from people who hadn’t actually seen it.

  4. Nigel says:

    Being a dedicated railway enthusiast and totally supporting any citizens right to take photographs in any public or non restricted place within the UK, I have had a meeting and several exchanges of emails with Chief Superintendent Wildbore of the British Transport Police (Holborn Police Station) London.

    It is most definitely NOT an offence to photograph any transport location, i.e, signal, platform, tunnel portal, viaduct or the arrival of a train at a station platform.

    There could be certain exceptions, such as a railway fatality, when out of respect for the situation photographers are requested not to start clicking, but then again this can’t be legally enforced.

    I am told by Chief Inspector Wildbore that railway photographers perform a vital set of eyes and ears for railway security, as those taking photos are dedicated railway enthusiasts and go a long way in helping to police and keep an watchful eye on railway matters.

    I feel totally sure that any railway photographer worth his salt would immediately report any sightings of cable thieves or potential vandalism to the running tracks. Therefore railway photographers are a vital tool of the railway police and another good set of eyes.

    Many of the problems arise from ill supervised and untrained private railway staff, who seem to think they are above common law and have more powers than the railway or local police force. These people are a true menace at railway stations and several times, having held a recognised ticket to travel and attempted to take photographs of a station concourse or station feature, I’ve been met by ‘Oi you, yes you, stop photographing now’ On addressing these pieces of ferrel s..t, I firstly remind them to ‘find their manners’ and as a fare paying passenger to address me as sir. They have no powers whatsoever to stop you photographing any railway feature, and are purely there to protect the station against vandalism, graffiti and drunken louts and yobs and assaults on railway staff and passengers. Few of them have any knowledge of the law or the rights of lawfully abiding citizens. These are the people who will immediately cause confrontation.

    If you are accosted by one of these people, immediately ask for their I.D. and their reason for trying to stop you photographing. If their response or explanations are not forthcoming or reasonable, then insist on the presence of a B.T police officer and make an official complaint against their behaviour.

    Whilst these days many stations are unmanned, it is good practice and courtesy to make a senior staff member of the station aware of your presence, stating that you are going to be photographing, station architecture, passing or arriving trains etc. Be polite and specific and there should be no problems.

    I hope others finding railway photography harassing will find my notes useful.


1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Filming gets easier on the London Underground"
  1. […] these pictures I took on the underground (hopefully legally) […]

Home >> News >> photography