London?s Royal Parks have been forced to spell out their rules on photography after an enthusiast claimed police stopped him using a tripod even though his pictures were for non-commercial use.
Photo enthusiasts faced confusion over rules for taking photos in the capital?s major parks after AP reader Stuart Wallace claimed police told him he needed to apply for a licence before using a tripod in Regent?s Park on Sunday, 12 November.
?I was advised by the same officer that it was perfectly OK to take handheld pictures, but I needed a licence from park authorities to take photos while the camera was attached to a tripod,? explained Wallace, who was visiting London from his home in Cambridgeshire.
The capital?s Royal Parks cover huge swathes of land, including Hyde Park.
The drama sparked an investigation by AP, which uncovered contentious Royal Parks guidelines stating that ?amateur and student photographers? who take pictures for their ?private portfolios? must complete a form confirming to park officials that their images are for private use only. This contradicts rules detailed elsewhere on the Royal Park?s website stating that photographers do not need a licence or need to pay a fee if their resulting images are for ?personal use only?.
However, in a victory for enthusiasts ? following enquires from AP ? Adam Farrar, the Royal Park?s head of events and filming, has agreed to remove the controversial paragraph ahead of a review of the entire Royal Parks guidelines after admitting that the wording could cause confusion.
Insisting that enthusiasts do not need to apply for a licence, Farrar told AP?s news editor Chris Cheesman: ?As long as you do not take pictures commercially you have the absolute right to be there? Your readers do not need to worry. If anyone is taking pictures for pleasure then they don?t need permission or to pay anything.?
Farrar explained that photographers would need to apply for a licence if, for example, the images are for publication or to earn ?some form of remuneration?.
However, speaking earlier, a Royal Parks spokesman admitted: ?The difficulty is that some amateurs are carrying thousands of pounds of equipment and it starts to look much more professional than someone with just a small Instamatic camera.? Though he said that this should not present a problem, the spokesman told us that this is where the ?boundaries tend to blur?.
We understand that Royal Parks? guidelines for both photography and filming are currently under review.
Covering 5,000 acres of land, London?s Royal Parks comprise Bushey Park, Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent?s Park (including Primrose Hill), Richmond Park and St James?s Park.
Royal Parks advises that, if in doubt whether one needs permission, photographers should check before visiting. Details of Royal Parks offices can be found via the park notice boards and through the Royal Parks website at www.royalparks.gov.uk/.
? For the full story see next week?s issue of AP, in shops on Tuesday 28 November