Skip to main content

Ted Szukalski

Gallery of fine art photography.

Local government and photography restrictions


Arts Freedom Australia’s call to protest against unfair treatment of photography and photographers created quite a stir in the blogosphere. Majority of people interested in the subject commented how they were directly affected by various restrictions all over the country – not only NSW.

Amongst tenths of the blogs I have read over the period of last few days one topic raised by Debbie Osterhage rang an interesting note: It may be that council imposed applications and fees for still photography are illegal in view of Local Government Act 1993. The relevant paragraphs were discovered via “LOCAL GOVERNMENT FILMING PROTOCOL” stating:

“This Protocol does not cover stills photography – the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Act 2008 and the Local Government Act 1993 specifically exclude still photography, and it does not require council approval or attract council fees unless it involves additional activity such as blocking streets, constructing a set or additional parking. In these cases, the Protocol can provide guidance for councils in processing high impact stills shoots. Those contemplating still photography should approach councils for further information.”

I have read the Local Government Act 1993 and indeed there is a substantial “Division 4 Approvals for filming” dedicated to the very issue of local governance and filming. It is not until one reads the dictionary at the later part of the Act one discovers the Act does not apply to still photography, indeed it excludes it:

“filming means recording images (whether on film or video tape or electronically or by other means) for exhibition or broadcast (such as by cinema, television or the Internet or by other means) and includes such acts or things as may be prescribed by the regulations as being filming, but does not include:

(a) still photography, or
(b) video recording of a wedding ceremony or other private celebration or event principally for the purpose of making a record for the participants in the ceremony, celebration or event, or
(c) recording for the immediate purposes of a television program that provides information by way of current affairs or daily news, or
(d) any act or thing prescribed by the regulations as not being filming.”

I think a lot of NSW photographers are now very kin to find a proper legal advice in relation to the Act and their chosen art form: the photography.

Related blog: Ross Barnett