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Old 11-18-2011, 03:01 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Rundown on taking photographs in Egypt

In the past, I've received conflicting information about what was and was not permitted in Egypt, photographically.

Here's a rundown based on my experience from the end of October through the middle of November.

At the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities cameras of any kind, are not permitted to be brought into the museum. Cellphones are permitted, but heaven help you if you try to use one to take a photo. If a guard sees you, count on being grabbed, your cellphone confiscated and you taken away to I don't know where (I didn't follow the woman.).

In the Valley of the Kings, at Luxor, like the Egyptian Museum, cameras of any kind are not permitted to be brought into the gated tomb area, and they have the same policy for cellphones.

In both locations, if you try to bring in a camera, they will send you back to your bus, car, etc. They will not store it in a protected area. There is no place in either location to "check" your equipment.

I also found that at some other locations in Egypt, such as near Sharm el-Sheikh, Monasteries such as St. Catherine's don't permit photos to be taken in the churches and other sanctuaries themselves, with or without flash, but do permit photos to be taken elsewhere at the locations.

At the outdoor locations such as the Temple of Luxor, or the Karnak Temple Complex, the Giza pyramids, the Sphinx, etc. photographs may be freely taken, though tripods are frowned upon unless the crowds are extremely light, and I mean extremely. There were fewer than a couple of hundred at Giza when I was there yet no one was permitted to use a tripod and for those who've never been there, the area is huge. A couple of hundred people are nothing.

I had my D700 with grip there and nothing but pro lenses and had no problems anywhere with the setup. There was no distinction made between pro equipment and any other equipment. If cameras were permitted then any camera was permitted.

The exception is video cameras, or at least cameras which look like video units, at least the pro looking ones. They aren't permitted at many locations (Luxor Temple and Karnak, at this time, for example) "still" cameras are permitted. With so many P&S and DSLR cameras, with video ability, they are fighting a loosing battle and don't stop P&S or DSLR camera from shooting video.

Photographs of police, soldiers, docks, bridges, military areas, airports, radio stations and other public utilities are prohibited, although you may very well get invited by some of the "tourism police" and guards to photograph them, and have them take photos of you for your keepsakes. I saw many "tourism police" happily take photos of people at the sights with the tourist's cameras to help out, and even suggest to people the best locations at each sight to take photos. They posed with tourists too.

Personally, I had no problem taking photos of Cairo Airport or bridges, even if the police where there. I never took any photos of police or military personnel without asking their permission, which was never refused. I was going to take a photo of a "checkpoint" but the plain clothes tourism police officer with our group instructed me not to take the photo and I followed his "advice."

By the way, if you engage with the Bedouins and other Egyptians who are selling their wares, etc. and try to, or take their photo, expect to pay them. They're doing nothing for free.

The hawking of goods and the intrusiveness of the people selling them is currently out of control, which is why we never went anywhere without having a tourism police officer (Plain clothes with a semi-automatic Sig or Glock, plus a small automatic weapon with them) with us in our vehicle, who also stayed with the vehicle, usually a small bus. At the major sights, there are uniformed tourism police all over.

Taking photos of such tourist attractions as water sellers, camels/camel drivers, goat herders and their goats, etc. always requires baksheesh (tip, gratuity).

Taking photographs of any person without their permission is unwise, in my opinion, when in Egypt, and really all of the Arab Middle East, taking photos of women is virtually taboo, although in Egypt, it they are in a large group it's generally okay. If you're in a poor area, be careful photographing. The people and police in those areas are particularly sensitive.

In the Middle East, especially in poor areas, much of family life, which would be private and indoors in other parts of the world, occurs outside the home. Be careful taking photographs of such activity. It is considered private as those areas are considered part of their "living rooms."

While in the US, under the law, but clearly not always part of practice in the US, no one in public, if they can be seen from a public space, has an expectation of privacy, and can be legally photographed (I'm only talking about taking a photograph, not using it.), but you can throw that concept out in the Arab countries of the Middle East, and for that matter in Arab countries anywhere. Their laws and customs are part of "another world."
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Old 11-19-2011, 02:47 PM   #2
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Wow, often we don't realize how much freedom we have.

I've been reading a bit about the tours in St. Petersburg (not FL!)
Evidently you need to pay a fee to be allowed to carry a camera in a lot of places.

Glad you didn't follow the woman who was taken away.
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:01 PM   #3
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Unhappy

And now the violence in Cairo is back and it's no place for tourists again.

Quote:
Cairo (CNN) -- The raging clashes between police and protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday left one dead and 750 injured, prompting a call from a prominent grass-roots group for citizens to resist the military-led government.
I was there on Monday. It was peaceful then, but no longer.

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Wow, often we don't realize how much freedom we have.

...

Glad you didn't follow the woman who was taken away.
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:05 PM   #4
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Question

I was in St. Petersburg about year ago. I never had to pay a fee to take photos, but there were certainly some locations where photographs were restricted.

What places have you found that require a fee in St. Petersburg to take photos?

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Originally Posted by tdew View Post
...I've been reading a bit about the tours in St. Petersburg (not FL!)

Evidently you need to pay a fee to be allowed to carry a camera in a lot of places.
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:46 PM   #5
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Most of the tours we're looking at say that included in the price is the fee for one camera per couple. Somewhere I read that there's a specific cost if you want to have a 2nd camera or a video camera. We have plenty of time to figure this out though.
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