GDPR & the end of street photography?

I’m compiling a list of useful information regarding street photography and GDPR. As yet things seem unclear. See the foot of this post.

Now that I’ve got your attention, perhaps this post would be better entitled ‘ The future of street photography’.

The image above is actually a portrait of a friend. I’ve blurred it to conceal his identity. But such images may be the future of street photography.

Recent changes in European data protection law (known as GDPR) appear to consider our faces a form of personal data. It’s not clear whether all images taken in public will require a model release, or whether current exemptions or allowances will persist.

However, apparently, the Maltese authorities are recommending that images without a release form have faces blurred to conceal personal information.

The web is full of comments from different perspectives and as yet it is unclear what GDPR may mean for street photography and documentary or travel photography for that matter.

Only time will tell whether the end is near for this most beautiful and significant genre of photography.


Here are some links I’ve found interesting for more discussion on this topic.

pages 14-16 of this document discuss how identical pictures can be considered both personal data and not personal data depending on context. This comes from the ICO, I think concerning earlier data protection law.

Street photography & Rights


I was in Glasgow and took the opportunity for some shots.  Glasgow has the reputation for being one of Scotland’s friendliest and relaxed cities.

But on this occasion I found this questioned. I went to take a picture of two gentlemen (not the image above) and was challenged by one of them. He didn’t say not to take the picture he shouted across that it was ‘against the law’ and it was ‘an invasion of privacy’.  This was in a public area and my understanding was that to take a picture was perfectly legal. However I hadn’t actually taken a shot which I explained. And we left it at that. 

I try to be careful and respectful when taking shots and I’m quite happy to delete or not take images.  But I was surprised by the suggestion that taking an image in public was illegal.  Apparently in some countries this is the case but not, as far as I’m aware, in the UK.  
I’d be interested to know if candid street photography is indeed considered an invasion of privacy.  The best information I can find on the subject is as follows.