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Respecting The Rules When Photographing Abroad

Updated on December 8, 2014

Kinkaku Temple-Japan

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source


Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

Everyone who loves to travel most always loves to take nice photographs of their travels as mementos and to brag about their explorations or for whatever the reason, travel and photography seem to go hand in hand.

For the most part many of those who enjoy traveling and taking pictures behave decently and respect the laws and regulations dealing with photographing at certain locations.

Let's face it, tourists are most always welcomed because they bring in dollars to the local economy and many of the attractions depend heavily on these tourists dollars to keep operating.

However there are some instances where rude photographers can make it hard for the rest of the attraction's visitors.

Some block walking spaces with tripods and other gear, verbally chastise others for getting into their field of view and yet others enter areas that have been set apart and and do not allow for the public to enter, simply to get a better angle or perspective.

These are the ones which can have a detrimental effect on the rest of the photographers who abide by the rules and are conscious about others around them.

A recent example which has made headlines in the country of Japan is the outright or partial banning of photography at many Buddhist temples.

Not only do some photo bugs inconvenience other guests with their gear but have damaged precious artifacts and gardens by going beyond the boundaries just to get a better picture.

Most professionals do agree that you have to aim for the best angle and perspective, but by the same token, most professional photographers can still capture beautiful shots without breaking any rules.

"According to Naver Matome and Kyoto Hotel Search, more and more Buddhist temples in Kyoto are banning photography because of the way photographers are acting while on the premises.

These beautiful locations beg to be photographed, but not only are some tourists bothering those who are visiting the temples on pilgrimage, some are going so far as blocking walkways with tripods and walking through gardens that are off-limits to get unique perspectives." Brian_Ashcraft on

Toro Lantern Stone- Buddhist Temple-Japan

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source


Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

Bronze statue

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

Of special interest are sites that are sacred or represent religious concepts such as in a Buddhist temple, monastery, church and so on.

Many locals and foreign visitors go to these temples to simply enjoy the peacefulness that they offer, perhaps sip some tea and overall look forward to taking in the beautiful scenery which includes the interior spaces as well as many of the beautiful gardens.

It seems that many photographers have gone so fa as to trample garden plants, have disturbed monuments and have generally become a nuisance to others who simply wanted to be in peace.

That is why anyone who loves the art and is self conscious that their photography can disturb others must always be respectful but most importantly, must get to know the rules regarding their activity.

Know the rules. be respectful before, during and after you get your shot. Be aware of others and their needs and always ask permission just in case.

Following these simple steps can help secure some of these beautiful places for future photographers as well as not giving photographers a bad reputation.

Think about how you would feel if a guest went into your garden and trampled some of your prized petunias or inside your home and started moving things and not respecting privacy for the sake of a few good shots.

Read all that you can about the country, the culture, your planned stops and better yet if you visit the country's local consulate in your country before heading out.

If you are just going to take some snap shots for the sake of memory, you are probably safe in most situations.

But if your gear looks expensive and bulky like the vast majority of DSLR cameras, plus flash plus tripods, it is better to play it safe than to be sorry later.

Buddha Statue-Japan

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

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Like this professional routinely does, doing research about the rules, laws and general attitude of the culture towards foreigners is very important.

Doing something that puts you in a "bad light" and may potentially get you in trouble, is never good.

"Research prior to any trip is vital for my projects. I need to be aware of any political implications or cultural sensitivities that may exist so I am prepared for whatever the climate might deliver.

It’s also essential to have an idea in advance about the attitude of local people to photographers and photography, as this, in an ever-changing world, will influence my approach to people and the amount and type of equipment to carry." Berry

Applying regular etiquette manners is the best way of not offending in your attempt to capture often beautiful images but the best advice is always to ask for what is allowed and what is not. Pay attention to other rules that you may be expected to follow not in regards to photography.

"Behave calmly and respectfully. Traditionally, you are not supposed to visit a shrine if you are sick, have an open wound or are mourning because these are considered causes of impurity"

Travel Photography: Tips and Techniques

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


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