The increasing privatisation of land and private security, especially in the City of London, is making it harder and harder to take photographs. The Gherkin and area around it is owned by the Kuwait government, no photographs (and incidentally, no protesting outside the Mayor of London’s office), Canary Wharf is all privately owned so don’t even think about taking photos and depressingly the fantastic looking new building known as The Scalpel is not only private but all on private land and they tend to pounce on you if you even look at your camera.
Many photographers innocently taking photographs of buildings, particularly in the City, are often detained under Section 44 of the anti-terrorism act just because they took a photo with a nice looking camera (I’ve not heard of anyone being stopped while taking photos with a point-and-shoot or with their phones). So far, I security have been reasonably polite when stopping me taking photos (although favourite question “what are you doing?”…I’m holding a camera, what do you think I’m doing?!) but I’m a 4ft 11 white woman. It’s perfectly legal to take photographs of private buildings from public land but they rarely tell you the divide between public and private is.
One of my current favourite views is the view of St Stephen Walbrook church (designed by Christopher Wren) between New Court on St Swithin’s Lane in the City of London.
New Court is the home of the Rothchild Bank HQ so I do understand why they’re a little iffy with you taking photographs but check out that view! New Court was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2012 and it’s a seriously stunning building.