Photography Etiquette Around The World:

10 Places You Can’t Take Photos

People take as many as 54,000 photos every second, totalling about 4.67 billion photos daily! It's easy to see why travellers might be eager to capture every moment. Public places offer some of the most exciting scenes for photographers and are great places to test your digital camera skills.

Although getting that perfect shot for your Instagram is always a plus, it's not always possible to do so everywhere you go. Read our guide to discover 10 places around the world where photography is restricted – some of these locations might surprise you! Specialist Lizzie James at Jessops also provides her top tips on adhering to photography etiquette abroad.


What is photography etiquette?

10 places around the world where photography is restricted

How to adhere to photography etiquette abroad

What is photography etiquette?

Photography etiquette is the unwritten rules and best practices that photographers should use to show respect and consideration for the people and places they capture. 

It’s especially important for travellers, as this makes you a more thoughtful visitor and helps create a positive impression of tourists in general. 

Being aware of and adhering to these rules and knowing what you can’t photograph can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. In many places, it can also keep you on the right side of local laws regarding privacy and respect.

10 places around the world where photography is restricted

1. Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal, a stunning marble mausoleum located on the banks of the river Yamuna in Agra, is one of the world's most iconic monuments, attracting seven to eight million visitors each year. While visitors frequently flock here to capture images of the impressive exterior and picturesque surrounding gardens, photography inside the mausoleum is prohibited.

The Taj Mahal serves as the final resting place for Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who commissioned this architectural marvel in memory of his beloved wife. Given its sacred purpose, photography inside is considered extremely disrespectful.

Banning photography also helps protect the delicate inlays and intricate artwork inside from potential damage caused by flash photography and excessive light exposure.

Lizzie gives us her tip for taking a great shot of the outside of the Taj Mahal: "If you're planning to snap photos of the Taj Mahal's exterior, try visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The natural light during these times really makes the marble shine and brings out the intricate details of the architecture."

"These times not only offer the best lighting but also tend to be less crowded, allowing you to capture the majestic structure with fewer people in your shots."

Image by Krishna Moorthy on Unsplash

2. Westminster Abbey, London

Photography is restricted in certain areas of Westminster Abbey, including the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor, St Faith's Chapel, and The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries. These areas hold significant historical and spiritual importance and are places for reflection and prayer. To preserve this tranquillity, photography is not allowed within these sacred spaces.

However, you are free to photograph many other parts of the Abbey and its surroundings to capture its historic beauty.

Lizzie shares a tip for capturing the grandeur of the Abbey on your digital camera: "When trying out architectural photography, like shooting the Abbey, it's best to use a small aperture. Opt for a higher f-number like f/11 or f/16. This narrows the opening through which light enters the camera, ensuring that more of the building is in sharp focus across the entire depth of the field." This technique is ideal for ensuring every detail of the Abbey's intricate design is clearly captured.

Image by Charles Postiaux on Unsplash

3. The Eiffel Tower, Paris

Due to copyright laws, photographing one of the world's most iconic landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, at night is technically illegal.

Capturing the Eiffel Tower during the day is perfectly legal since the copyright on the structure itself has expired. However, at night, the tower is lit by a dazzling light show designed by Pierre Bideau in 1985, which changes the situation. This is because the light show is considered a separate artistic work, and under European Union copyright law, such works are protected for the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years after their death. Since Bideau passed away in 2021, the copyright for the light show will extend well into the future, until the year 2091, to be exact.


While taking photos of the Eiffel Tower's illuminated display for personal use is generally acceptable, using these images for commercial purposes or sharing them on social media could technically infringe on copyright laws. However, the likelihood of facing legal action is quite low, given the enormous number of these images shared online.

Image by Chris Karidis on Unsplash

4. The Sistine Chapel, Italy

Visitors to the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City need to follow a few rules, including dressing modestly, covering their shoulders and knees. This dress code helps maintain a respectful environment in this holy place.

Taking photos or videos is also a no-go. This isn't just to keep the art safe from camera flashes, but there's a backstory too.

In the 1980s, the Vatican faced a hefty bill to restore Michelangelo's artwork within the chapel. To cover the costs, they made a deal with a broadcasting company, Nippon TV, granting them exclusive rights to photograph and film the newly restored art in exchange for a significant sponsorship.

This arrangement was supposed to last only three years after each piece was restored. However, even after the deal expired, the ban on photography remained.

Regardless of its origins, the photography ban allows visitors to take in the beauty of Michelangelo's masterpieces without the distraction of flashes and camera clicks.

Image by Leandro Silva on Unsplash

5. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a place of ancient wonders, most notably its iconic monoliths: Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Uluru, the world's largest sandstone monolith, stands 348m above ground. Nearby, Kata Tjuta consists of 36 giant domes and extends over 12 miles. These natural formations are more than just stunning landscapes; they're sacred sites for the Anangu, the traditional custodians of the land who have lived there for over 30,000 years.

While photography is generally welcome in the park, there are sacred areas around Uluru and parts of Kata Tjuta where taking photos is restricted. There's no need to worry about where you can and can't take images – these sites are clearly labelled with signs. However, commercial photography without a permit and drones are banned altogether.

"Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is an excellent spot for stargazing," says Lizzie. "With its remote location, far from the glare of city lights, the sky here is remarkably clear, offering a stunning view of the stars for astrophotography."

"Just remember to keep your camera's ISO settings low to minimise noise in your images. This will help maintain clarity and detail. And, of course, be mindful of photography restrictions."

Read our ISO guide for beginners to learn more about this camera setting.

Image by Jason Ham on Unsplash

6. The Jewel House, Tower of London

The Jewel House in the Tower of London is home to some of the most dazzling treasures of the British monarchy, including the iconic Crown Jewels. 

However, when it comes to snapping photos, visitors are out of luck. Photography is prohibited in the Jewel House to prevent potential criminals from using images to identify security weaknesses surrounding the royal gems.

Image by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

7. Las Vegas Casinos

Some Las Vegas casinos have strict rules around photography. You should avoid taking photos in the gaming areas if other people are in the shot to maintain their privacy. However, you can usually snap images of your friends and your own slot machine without any issues. 

It all depends on the casino you visit. Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, for example, is notoriously strict on photography, banning images or videos of table games to avoid disrupting players. 

On the other end of the scale, Four Queens Resort and Casino actively encourage visitors to take photos and share them online. Just be sure to check the casino's rules before you start snapping away to avoid any unwanted attention from security.

If photography is restricted in the casino areas, you'll still find plenty of photo-worthy spots throughout the premises, such as the hotel lobbies, restaurants, and entertainment zones.

Image by Kynga on Unsplash

8. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace perched atop a rugged hill in Bavaria, Germany. It inspired the design of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, making it one of the most visited and photographed castles in the world.

Although the inside is beautiful, photography and filming are unfortunately not allowed indoors.

Luckily, the exterior of the castle is renowned for its fairy-tale-like architecture and picturesque mountain backdrop, providing plenty of photo opportunities.

The Marienbrücke is the most popular viewpoint that offers spectacular views of the castle, capturing its majestic setting against the Alpine scenery.

Image by Alex Vasey on Unsplash

9. Valley of The Kings, Egypt

In the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, photography inside the tombs is generally restricted to protect the delicate art from potential damage caused by flash photography.

However, you are usually free to take photographs of the tomb exteriors without any restrictions. If you wish to photograph the interior of some tombs, you will need to purchase a permit at the entrance, which can be quite expensive. It's always best to check the current rules when you arrive.

Image by Osama Elsayed on Unsplash

10. The Red Light District, Amsterdam

In Amsterdam's Red Light District, photography is generally discouraged, especially of the workers in the windows, to protect their privacy and safety. Taking photos in this area can be seen as disrespectful and may provoke a negative reaction from the locals or the workers themselves.

However, you can take general photos of the streets and canals, as long as you're respectful of the people around you.

"To capture high-quality pictures of Amsterdam's canals with a digital camera, consider using a wide-angle lens to embrace the expansive views," recommends Lizzie."The canals are often lined with bright lights at night, which can cause blurriness from even slight camera shake. To counter this, it's best to stabilise your camera on a tripod."

Image by Manual Keller on Unsplash

How to adhere to photography etiquette abroad

Research local customs

"Always research the cultural norms and photography rules of your destination before you arrive," suggests Lizzie. "Or, you could even chat to the locals while you’re there.”

“This preparation helps you avoid breaches of etiquette related to religious or cultural sensitivities that might not be obvious to outsiders."

Respect privacy and personal space

"When you're visiting tourist spots, it's normal to end up with other people in your pictures," Lizzie points out. "And sometimes, capturing people in your shots can really bring your photos to life and add context to your scenes."

"While there's no law in the UK that prohibits taking photos of people in public spaces, it's considerate to ask for their permission first. Doing so not only avoids uncomfortable reactions, but also avoids potential confrontations."

"However, the law can vary depending on where you're travelling. In France, for example, the Right to Image and Respect for Private Life Law means you'll need consent to publish photos of recognisable people in both public and private settings."

"Also, keep in mind that in many places, taking photos of someone's face or certain body parts without asking can be considered rude or even a violation. So, knowing these nuances can help you steer clear of offending someone."

Look for signs

"Always be on the lookout for signs that indicate photography restrictions," Lizzie advises. "Just remember that not all areas will have clear signage, so if in doubt, it’s best to ask a local or a guide.”

"Respecting these signs shows that you value local norms and helps you avoid unintentional disrespect or legal issues, especially in culturally sensitive or privately managed spaces."

Test your photography skills on your next trip with Jessops

Wherever you're travelling, whether it's to a famous landmark or a new country, knowing what you can and can't photograph is essential. And if you're looking to improve your photography skills along the way, we have products to help you capture those perfect shots. Discover our wide range of digital cameras and lenses, as well as accessories like tripods and lighting.

If you're considering an upgrade or just starting out, read our beginner's guide to choosing the best digital camera for you

For more advice and inspiration, check out our blog. Or, if you have any questions or you're unsure about which product is right for you, contact us today.

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