History in Structure

Photographing Listed Buildings

Part of the reason for this website is to allow people to submit their own photos of listed buildings. However, it's important that any photos published here are taken in accordance with both the law and respect for building occupants.

As far as the law is concerned, you do not need permission to take photos of any building, provided you do not breach anyone's privacy by doing so. There are a few exceptions to this, mainly where the subject of the photo is a military establishment or other protected location, but the vast majority of listed buildings can be freely photographed without permission provided that you don't break any other laws in the process.

However, just because something is legal doesn't always make it desirable, and therefore we ask you to follow these simple guidelines when photographing listed buildings:

  1. Make sure that you only take photos of occupied residential buildings from a vantage point which is accessible to the public, or where you have permission to be.
    • For clarity (since we seem to be getting a lot of queries on this!), it's the location of the photographer, not the location of the building, which makes the difference here. A photo taken from somewhere that is accessible to the public, such as a public highway, another public place (such as a park, a public right of way across private land or a private road serving multiple properties), or property you are permitted to enter (such as a shop or museum) is acceptable even if the property you are photographing is not open to the public. It's also acceptable to take photos from a position which is routinely accessible to people with a legitimate reason to visit the exterior of the property (eg, a tradesman or delivery driver), but only so far as would be normal under such circumstances. The simple rule of thumb here is that if you can see it with your eyes from a public place or permitted access, you can photograph it from the same place.
    • For unoccupied buildings, such as ruins, disused buildings or non-habitable structures such as walls, sheds, barns and follies, we're a little more relaxed about this rule as there are no privacy implications in photographing unoccupied buildings. And there are many disused listed buildings which are not easily visible from the street. However, please be cautious if you do go off the beaten track to take photos. Be careful not to cause any damage, and take care for your own safety. Do not enter residential property without permission, even to take photos of unoccupied buildings. Don't go anywhere that you can't just walk to off the street, and don't walk over crops in fields.
  2. Don't take photos that include identifiable individuals on private premises not open to the public.
    • Public crowd scenes (eg, in a street which includes a listed building, or inside a building which is open to the public) are OK, but not private property owners, residents, workers or their visitors unless you have their permission.
  3. Don't take photos that include the interior of any residential building not open to the public.
    • The exterior of any building visible from a public place is public information. But don't take photos of the interior of residential buildings unless you have the permission of the occupants.
  4. Don't take photos of private rear gardens of residential properties.
    • Front gardens are fine if they are visible from the street or public place and form part of the naturally viewable frontage of the property. But don't take photos of private areas to the rear of properties, even if you can see them from outside the property.
    • It's OK to take photos of the rear or side aspect of a building itself if it's visible from a publicly accessible place. But please try to frame out (or crop) any private garden area.
  5. Try to avoid taking photographs of cars parked on private residential property.
    • If there's a car in the photo that you really can't avoid, then please blur out the registration number before submitting it.
    • Commercial vehicles, or any vehicle parked in a public place (such as the street, or a car park) are OK if you really can't avoid including them, and there's no need to blur out registration plates of vehicles in public places.
    • This is a new requirement, so it won't be enforced retrospectively (we won't remove any photos containing registration plates that have already been accepted), but it will be checked for all future submissions.

Obviously, if you have permission to be on the premises, or it's a building that you own or occupy, then you can ignore these guidelines. And we do encourage building occupants to submit photos of their own property, particularly aspects which are not normally visible to the public. But if you're photographing someone else's property then it's important not to go beyond these guidelines without explicit permission.

Submission Guidelines

We also ask that you make sure that your photos meet a few basic requirements for submission to the website.

  1. Photos must be your own work, or that of someone known to you who has given explicit permission for you to upload the photos.. Don't just copy photos from other sources without permission. The only exception is for photos which are clearly old enough for copyright to have expired, in which case they may be freely reproduced. But err on the side of caution when deciding that a photo is old enough!
  2. Make sure that your photo is correctly oriented, with the sky (or roof) at the top! It's surprising how many we get that have to be rejected because the photo is on its side, or even upside down.
  3. Photos should be in landscape format wherever possible. There may be occasions where the subject of a photo is best captured in close-up by a portrait photo (eg, a telephone box or tower), but if so then we'd appreciate it if you could also submit a photo in landscape format showing the object in context as well as a portrait close-up.
  4. Don't overdo it with Photoshop. Basic tweaks to a photo (eg, getting the colour balance right) are fine, but don't use any visible effects.
  5. If you must include a watermark, keep it discreet. A small watermark advertising your website is OK, provided that it consists of nothing more than a single, small line of text at the bottom of the image. Anything larger, or that obscures the main subject of the photo, will be rejected.
  6. Don't add any border to the photo.
  7. If you're submitting an old photo scanned from a print or slide, crop it so that there is no border.
  8. Photos scanned from prints must be scanned using a flatbed scanner. No photos of photos!
  9. Don't submit old photos scanned from books. Apart from the risk of infringing copyright, images that are scans of anything other than a flat print will look awful.

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

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