A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Travel > Europe - Germany > FYI: photography in Germany

Featured Equipment Deals

Thoughts on Framing and Space Read More

Thoughts on Framing and Space

Tips to help you with framing and space while photographing children, written by mother, Shutter Sister, and photographer Tracey Clark.

Latest Equipment Articles

The Week in Photography News Read More

The Week in Photography News

November 15-21, 2014: Hear the latest goings-on in the photography world, from product releases to event and campaign announcements and more.

Latest Learning Articles

Introduction to Creating an Album in Lightroom - Part I (Video Tutorial) Read More

Introduction to Creating an Album in Lightroom - Part I (Video Tutorial)

Learn to create an album in the Book Tab of Lightroom that you can publish and present to clients.


FYI: photography in Germany

Oliver S. , Jun 11, 2003; 09:28 a.m.

This is information, not a question, but I think it's nice to have a thread we can point people to in the future, so I am providing this. Moderators, feel free to axe it if you think it's inappropriate.


The Technical Side

Film isn't expensive in Germany, and slide film is still in widespread use, although finding a decent lab can be difficult. Forget b/w unless you develop it yourself or know a pro lab that has specialised on it. As of June 2003, Kodachrome must be sent to Switzerland again.

C41 development is of universal high standard. You can very well hand your rolls to a 1 hour lab, order development only ("nur Entwickeln bitte, keine Abzüge"), and carry them home without worrying about insufficient bleaching, fixing, or X-rays.

Which equipment should you bring with you? All you have and then some if you are a pro. One or two bodies, a moderate wide angle, a light tele lens, and the usual accessories (for lens cleaning, taking notes, whatever is in your bag) if you are an amateur. The former lens is good for vistas and the latter is essential IMHO for decent pictures. In Europe, old and new are often close together, and sometimes you want to isolate the old or the new; but you cannot always get close, either because there is an obstacle (you can't just climb over a railing or set up your tripod in the middle of a road) or because perspective would suffer (ever photographed a statue's head while you were standing right at its pedestal?).

If you have a 28mm, take this and do not buy a 35mm for the trip. And I will not tell you whether a 85mm/f:1.8 or a 100mm/Uf:2.8 Macro is better. It is up to you.

A very important piece of gear especially for southern Germany is rain protection. You can expect a lot of precipitation especially in summer, and if usually comes with very little or no warning.

This was taken at approx. 2.00h p.m. In Munich:

This was taken three hours later at a point approx. 4km north of the first one:

And this was my neighbourhood on the next morning:

The AW cover of my Lowepro bag has saved my gear several times, but a plastic garbabe bag fulfills the same purpose.

Gear my look criminally high-priced in Germany. It is.

Responses

Oliver S. , Jun 11, 2003; 09:50 a.m.

The Legal Side

People

If a picture shows a person, or persons, you must not publish that pictures without that person's or persons', agreement. Period. How the picture was made (painting, sculpture, photography, holograph,...) and whether it is for commercial or editorial purposes, does not matter. There are, however, a few exceptions:

Personen des Zeitgeschehens, i.e. politicians, CEOs of large corporations, and celebrities, may be photographed without prior asking. There are also temporary Personen des Zeitgeschehens, e.g. the lawyer of a celebrity while the latter one is in court for some reason, and the judge of the court.

Exceptions to the exception: do not photograph the minor relatives of Personen des Zeitgeschehens without permission! This limitation was imposedabout 20 years ago when kidnapping celebrity kids was en vogue, lest future criminals can easily identify their targets.
Also, even Personen des Zeitgeschehens have a right to privacy. Avoid shooting the bundeskanzler with his pants down. Last year he filed a lawsuit against a journalist who had written that the bundeskanzler had his hair dyed.

You also do not need a permit is you photograph people who participate in a public gathering--soccer spectators, demonstrators, etc. Strictly speaking, "zooming in" on a single spectator is illegal, but law enforcement does it all the time at demonstrations.

You neither need a release if the person cannot be recognised in the picture. A characteristic haircut or even somewhat typical clothing my negate this, however. On the other side, this allows you to include people in you pictures. If you photograph Schloss Charlottenburg at 11.00h a.m., you need not ask all the tourists in front of it whether they agree to it.


Buildings

If it's intended to be permanent and visible from public ground, you can photograph it to your heart's content. This was clarified last year when Christo, the famous "wrapping artist", won a lawsuit against a postcard publisher who had sold post cards that showed the Berlin Reichstag in Christo's packaging. The court ruled that the publisher need compensate Christo for this because the art had not beenintended to be permanent; it also stated that using images of the wrapping for information purposes was still free.

This does not mean, of course, that you are free to photograph military or law enforcement structures! Keep your camera packed away in the proximity of barbed wire. Also, private institutions may wish to enforce their copyright; e.g.,a wordwide fast food chain usually asks PJs to leave on the grounds that the entire interior of their restaurant were copyrighted. (Afaik it even is.)

Feel free to mail me directly for further information.

Tom Emerson , Jun 11, 2003; 09:12 p.m.

Oliver,

Danke für Ihren Aufsatz!

This is an excellent piece to launch the new Travel Photography forum. Thank you for posting it.

One question: when I travelled in the DDR in the mid-80s it was illegal to photograph bridges and military/police installations. Is this still the case? Since 9/11 some bridges are offlimits for photography in the USA, so such restrictions still occur.

Michael Hohner , Jun 12, 2003; 01:51 a.m.

Tom, You may not have noticed, but the DDR does no longer exist now.

Oliver S. , Jun 12, 2003; 06:03 a.m.

As reunification of Germany wasn't a merger but rather a takeover, East German laws went down the drain. If a structure is obviously military or law enforcement-related, keep your gear in the bag. Otherwise, if there are no signs reading Fotografie verboten, "no photographs", or a sign indicating the same, you're pretty much on the safe side.

As an example: Siemens, the large electronics company, bans photography everywhere on their premises for obvious reasons. If you photographs their buildings whie you're standing on public ground, they can do nothing about it--theard headquarters is the pink palace in the background you see on this site.

As another example, around Christmas 2002 I took a few pictures of the awful decoration inside a railway station. These pictures could have doubled as documents of the pillars and beams that held the roof and the walls of the station hall in place, and hence would have been great for a terrorist. Five meters behind me, two police officers were having a coffee. They didn't move an inch while I was taking the pictures and didn't stop me afterwards. [Nor was my phone wasn't bugged later, and afaict German intelligence isn't particularly interested in my mail :-) ]

And Tom, could be so kind to correct the numerous typos I made in the post and my first contribution? Thank you very much! If orthograpyhy's so lousy, you wonder whether the information in the text is correct, and I don't want to make people feel insecure. Afaik the contents of the posts contain no errors; I currently live in Germany, after all.

Tom Emerson , Jun 12, 2003; 08:45 a.m.

Oliver,

I cannot edit the posts once they have been made. However, I didn't feel a need to correct anything anyway.

And Michael, yes, I obviously know that the DDR no longer exists. My question was oriented at the fact that I encounted severe restrictions on photography in the East when I was there, and I was wondering if similar restrictions were put in place post Unification for similar structures.

James Mc Quarrie , Jun 16, 2003; 09:36 a.m.

This is a question for Oliver or anyone who may know. I am not german but live here in Germany. Where could i get a book on the law pertaining to photography. it would be better if it was in english but i can understand german. I know they have some strange laws and don't want to have any bother or have my gear taken from me by some over enthusiastic official.

Alexander M. , Jun 17, 2003; 07:52 a.m.

check out this http://www.fotorecht.de/

cu Alex

Oliver S. , Jun 18, 2003; 09:44 a.m.

Thank you, Alex, for the advice! I'm trying to make it clickable.

James, German laws aren't that strange in this area. Also, law enforcement officers tend to be rather well-trained in legal matters. For private security, the opposite's true.

For distinction: with the exception of Hesse and Hamburg, which are introducing new police uniforms, German law enforcement officers wear brown trousers, yellow shirts, and--if the weather requires so--a dark green leather jacket, green windbreaker, or green winter jacket; to these, a green tie is worn. Insignia are also green. Sometimes, a totally green uniform is worn. Shoes, belts, holsters, etc., are black.
So, if "it" wears something else, no matter how official it's looking, it's private security. If it's yellowish, yellowish-green, or green, it's official.

Back to top

Notify me of Responses