Why is taking photos banned at many tourist attractions?

Visitors And Elgin Marbles In The British Museum

Sick of seeing 'no photography' signs when visiting tourist attractions on holiday? Snapping photos to share with your Instagram followers is part of the fun, right? Well it might be frustrating but there are some important reasons why sites around the world, including Westminster Abbey, the Sistine Chapel and Buckingham Palace have a 'no photos' policy.

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Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, for instance, brought in the ban on photography as it "caused tension between those wishing to photograph and those wishing to view the paintings". Eliminating cameras certainly improves the visitor experience as no-one wants to be dodging selfie sticks while trying to appreciate world-class paintings, but what about those signs in museums about flash photography? While camera flashes are believed to damage artworks, tests have found that smartphones cause little harm - but a gallery in possession of millions of pounds worth of artwork probably prefers not to take the risk.

Then there's the question of security. The Tower of London, for example, prohibits tourists from photographing the Crown Jewels. Allowing cameras near the priceless jewels could attract thieves or terrorists looking to locate and capture visuals of any weaknesses in the alarm system.

Another reason for banning photography is ensuring that tourists continue to visit the gift shop. You're far less likely to purchase a postcard after a trip to the Valley of the Kings if you've captured your own selfies of the impressive site.

That said, not all visitors abide by the 'no photography' rules. We've scrolled through photos on social media to bring you the forbidden Instagram photos from attractions around the world...

Forbidden Instagram photography from around the world
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Forbidden Instagram photography from around the world
Love sharing your creative travel photos on Instagram? Not everywhere is welcoming to camera phone-toting tourists looking to impress their followers with their holiday snaps. From the Vatican City's Sistine Chapel to London's Crown Jewels, we've scrolled through Instagram to bring you the forbidden pictures that shouldn't have been captured...
You probably didn't know this, but it's illegal to share photos of Paris' famous Eiffel Tower at night. Thanks to a copyright law known as 'freedom of panorama,' visitors who take and post photos of the landmark's sparkling light show at night online could be fined.

The Sistine Chapel attracts millions of visitors each year and photography is strictly prohibited. This isn't to prevent flashing cameras from damaging the art but dates back to 1980 when the chapel's art was restored thanks to the assistance of Nippon Television Network Corporation of Japan, which offered $3 million in return for exclusive rights to photography and video of the art. Though this hasn't stopped tourists from snapping away and if you search #sistinechapel on Instagram, you'll see thousands of photos of the frescoes.

Formula 1 fans should be wary of taking photos at Abu Dhabi's racing track. In 2011, two men were fined 1,000 AED (£210) and 5,000 AED (£1,050) for taking photos of the Yas Marina motorsport racing circuit, The National reported. The visitors argued that the tourist attraction is commonly photographed and there were no visible signs prohibiting cameras but prosecutors insisted there are signs.

Ever wondered why you've only ever seen photos of the outside of the Taj Mahal? Photography is prohibited inside the main mausoleum of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, although some travellers say it depends on who is operating the chaotic security at the entrance gates.
A site that can only be viewed from afar, the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi is strictly off limits to tourists. In 2011, an Iranian tourist was jailed for three months for taking photos of the palace before spending a month in a cell after the verdict. According to The National, he told the court he took photos out of "admiration of the structure of the building" and did not have any "bad intentions" but Chief Justice Shehab al Hammadi of the State Security Court said: "He should have inquired if it was not forbidden to take photos."
They might be sparkly and Insta-perfect but the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London are strictly not to be photographed. That hasn't stopped a few tourists from sneaking a quick snap and sharing it with their followers though...
There are so many images of Michelangelo's David on Instagram that it's hard to believe that photography is banned but Italy claims copyright over any images of the 17-foot marble sculpture, with guards at Florence's Accademia Gallery often heard yelling "NO PHOTO!" at tourists.
Photography is banned inside the historic tombs of Egypt’s famed Valley of the Kings, with signs prominently posted that cameras are not allowed.
Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum reintroduced its ban on photos after allowing personal photography for a short time in 2013. It reinstated the ban in 2014, saying that photography in the popular tourist attraction "caused tension between those wishing to photograph and those wishing to view the paintings".
Visitors after a selfie with the tomb of Elizabeth I or William Shakespeare's memorial are often disappointed as photography is not permitted inside Westminster Abbey. The website states: "We believe that the unique beauty and history of the Abbey are difficult to enjoy with the distractions which widespread photography would bring; and that photography would diminish the sacred and intimate atmosphere of a building which is, first and foremost, a living, working church."

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