Recently, my family and I (two parents, two daughters below 3) were in Spain. We had a great time in Barcelona and then in Andalusia. However, I found myself several times annoyed by other tourists taking pictures of my children, in different ways:

  • Very closely, like less than 1 metre and sometimes even bending over to take a close-up of her face while she is in her stroller.
  • 2-3 metres away, for what I suppose was a global picture of stroller and child, or when the older one is walking.
  • 10+ metres away, with camera and zoom-lens, when they are playing. Someone even took his lens from its bag to mount it after I asked him to not take pictures of my children when he was closer and passing by.

Each time, I kindly but firmly asked them to stop doing so. Several times I had to hide her face from the most insisting people, and I even had a verbal fight with the lens guy cited previously.

I may be overprotecting my daughters' privacy but I do not know who those people are, what they will do with these photos, and above all they did not ask (I am not sure I would say yes if one day someone asked, but this is not the point). I am sure 99% of these people are harmless, but still. These situations spoil the moments we enjoy in family, and I am not sure to handle them the best I could.

Can I get here any advice on how to manage these situations? Even better, how to prevent them? Is it too aggressive to ask people to delete photos already taken?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 26, 2018 at 21:45
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    Try as I have, I cannot establish that it illegal in Spain to take unsolicited photos of children. It IS illegal to photograph the police... In UK, it is NOT illegal to take photos of children. Please comment if you know more than this.
    – Tim
    Jun 27, 2018 at 7:19

5 Answers 5


Since this question is not tagged for Spain, and it is tagged for cultural-awareness and local-customs, then be aware that in some countries (including England and Wales) photography in a public place is generally unrestricted, and your principal recourse in such situations is not to go into those places, or to leave if you're getting annoyed at the photographic activities of others.

From http://www.photographers-resource.co.uk/photography/Legal/Access_Rights.htm:

Generally you have the right to photograph anywhere that is public property, including public roads, footpaths, rights of way and between high and low tide at least if not the entire beach areas throughout the UK ... No one, other than a police officer who takes it for evidence, can take your camera away, and they are supposed to just take the card rather than the camera if you have taken it out of the camera , and no one can insist you delete photographs taken

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JoErNanO
    Jun 25, 2018 at 10:32
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    Also worth noting is that "No one, other than a police officer who takes it for evidence" requires due cause beyond just taking photos of the public, private personnel, police, military installations - "The police have the power to seize an item if there are reasonable grounds for believing that it is evidence relating to an offence" (bikelawyer.co.uk/site/mcn-law-columns/…), there must be reason to believe an offence has been committed, for which there is reasonable suspicion to believe that the camera contains evidence. Remain on public land.
    – Vix
    Jun 25, 2018 at 13:21
  • Well this might be true for england, as they left the EU. Doing such a thing in a EU country is illegal. As the image is digitally processed and by that violates privacy rights of the person in the photo.
    – Kami Kaze
    Jun 26, 2018 at 10:33
  • @Philbo I am not an expert myself but this what I picked up reading about the "General Data Protection Regulation" (GDPR). It is just a month old and I am no lawyer, but this is what I picked up.
    – Kami Kaze
    Jun 26, 2018 at 11:35
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    1) The UK hasn't left the EU (yet). 2) Please don't continue this conversation here. There's a nice chat thread linked above. The discussion is well-established there. Go join it, please.
    – MadHatter
    Jun 26, 2018 at 13:10

I've been that stranger. I once surreptitiously took a photo of (native) people in a rural Swedish village who I throught were dressed funnily. A young man noticed, and responded with a gesture of moving his finger across his neck. The villagers belonged to a religious sect that prohibits photography. Another time, I took a photo of a stairs in Stockholm. There was a person on the stairs who I did not take note of. The person very much did take note of me, and reprimanded me, telling me not to take photos of people without their permission. After these two incidents, I have improved. When I can avoid it, there are no people in the foreground of my photos.

The people taking photos of you or your dependents without your or their permission should stop doing so. Regardless of the legal situation, it is not right to take portrait-like photos without permission. There is little you can do beyond what the Swedish woman on the stairs did: firmly tell them not to take photos of people without their permission. If they're like me, they might learn, and you'll have helped the next person.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JoErNanO
    Jun 25, 2018 at 10:31
  • This is a friendly reminder to keep things civil and refrain from arguing and insulting one another.
    – JoErNanO
    Jun 25, 2018 at 10:31
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    I downvoted "The people taking photos of you or your dependents without your or their permission must stop doing so. It is not their right to take those photos" The only reason someone "must stop" I would think if taking their picture without permission is illegal, which it is not in all countries. In the US, people DO have a right to take pictures (and video, without audio), of anyone in public.
    – Andy
    Jun 25, 2018 at 18:25
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    @Andy I'm not talking about legal rights, and I'm not talking about pictures where someone is part of the background landscape. The OP is talking about taking essentially portraits without asking. I have come to think of that as rude. I have rephrased the answer to clarify I'm not talking about legal rights. Does that satisfy your concern?
    – gerrit
    Jun 25, 2018 at 19:11
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    What's rude or not varies greatly between cultures and even sometimes within a culture. You say it's not right, but that's not an objective fact, it's your opinion only. There are plenty of things i don't think people should do but i can't force anyone to stop.
    – Andy
    Jun 25, 2018 at 22:13

Coming from Portugal, where there are very similar laws to Spain, unless you are a well known person in a public place (actors, politicians), you have your right to privacy supported by law against being filmed or photographed in public places.

Furthermore there are additional regulations protecting the privacy of minors and creating additional complications even for their family members posting images of them in social media.

While other tourists might have not, locals also have some pretty good awareness of those laws and might even assist you. People are usually friendly and overly protective of minors well-being and safety as a rule. People are also relatively conscious of their right (and others) to privacy.

So I would say on those cases were photos your children are actually the goal of an insistent and rude photographer, if in Spain [or Portugal], be very vocal for attracting the attention and possibly enlist the help of local people. You might actually threaten to call the authorities in addition.

Coming back to Spain Ley Organica 1/1982, 5th Of May contemplates your right to privacy, and Ley Organica 1/1996 from 15th of January, lawful protection of minors reinforces the right to privacy of minors.

"Article 4 Right to honor, privacy and self-image

  1. Minors have the right to honor, personal and family privacy and their own image. This right also includes the inviolability of the family home and correspondence, as well as the secrecy of communications."

This is not the answer you were looking for, but the fact that lots of people have been taking pictures of your children suggests that your family stands out too much in comparison to other tourists.

You may get angry and yell at some clueless foreigner who doesn't even speak English or Spanish and scare them away, you may hire a lawyer and make a living hell for a random childless lady/guy from the the other side of the globe who just thought your kids were cute and who has no money to defend themselves in a legal battle against you, but neither of those options will prevent your privacy from being invaded again and again by other people.

This leaves you with only three obvious options:

  • Avoid tourist spots when traveling with children. Because reasonably speaking, I highly doubt your daughters are the ones who have any "say" over where your family goes and would much rather enjoy something more fun rather than visiting some ancient monument under a scorching sun, or a top-ranking beach filled with people to the brim.
  • Don't make your kids stand out that much. Using modest clothes and a stroller may help, to a certain extent.
  • Accept that you have no privacy. While it may feel unpleasant and invasive, there seems to be very little real threat in what other people do. Very few real criminals would act so conspicuously if they were to present any actual threat to your children.
  • 3
    Why should their family change their habits, not go to tourist spots and not dressing as they want? They are not who is on the wrong. Besides laws, there are also limits to civility and manners, someone keeping on the intent of taking a photo of their children after the parents telling them not to and even arguing about it is just plain rude. In the past I took photos with locals in Hong Kong because they asked me too and I indulged them, but I was in no way obliged to do it. While in some countries you have laws about privacy, people also have to respect you. Jun 25, 2018 at 12:20
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    "Why should their family change their habits", and in contrary, why should individual tourists acting independently be coerced into changing their behaviours - when they are within the law to do so. "someone keeping on the intent of taking a photo of their children after the parents telling them not to" is separate argument which I agree with you on. If tourists tend to take photos of their children, and you can't change all tourists, then maybe lessen interactions with and adapt when around them.
    – Vix
    Jun 25, 2018 at 13:24
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    @RuiFRibeiro "While in some countries you have laws about privacy, people also have to respect you." No, they don't have to. They should, but they don't have to. I agree that it would be incredibly rude, but that doesn't, by itself, give you any recourse other than telling them to stop, which they can ignore if they choose.
    – reirab
    Jun 25, 2018 at 22:36
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    @reirab You are both conveniently forgetting people invading their personal space and overing over children and using amplification lens,... I could also vomit over people or sit on their lap when tired, but there are limits on the civilised world, and much more on the first world. The tourists also have to adapt to wether they are. This is not only a one sided street. If you are commenting that over from cultures where people as individuals are less respected, including their personal space, the world is not the same. I maintain this answer is flawed, it is taking liberties from the victim. Jun 26, 2018 at 3:48
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    If anything, I think it would have a greater effect and be more compassionate to contact the local tourism department with a grievance about invasive tourist behaviour and ask them to put the pertinent privacy laws on the free tourist information pamphlet rather than go after one person in particular.
    – undercat
    Jun 26, 2018 at 13:31

Carry a camera and take photos of the photographers. Since in most countries it's not illegal to take photos of anything in a public place, you are at liberty to reciprocate. Some may not mind, and the others have no proper reason to ask you to stop.

It would appear that some have missed my point. Those who are doing it innocently will not mind their own photo taken, whereas those with other issues probably would, and if that's the case, photographic 'evidence' has been taken. It would probably stop those who knew what they were doing wasn't above board.

As far as doing this in a country where it's not legal anyway - come on, think more deeply!

  • 6
    It also seems to be bad advice because it doesn't actually stop people from taking the photos that the OP wants stopped. I am not clear on how taking a photo of other people would help stop them taking photos - they presumably are of the opinion that such things are fine so how does this help?
    – Chris
    Jun 24, 2018 at 13:41
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    @Chris: Even worse, it shows those people that you are okay with taking photographs of people, since you are doing it yourself. Plus, as was pointed out above, doing so is actually illegal in the place where the OP said this happened. Jun 24, 2018 at 13:54
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    @Chris I think the general idea is that some types of photographers would have a big big problem with their picture being taken, specifically those up to no good. And that is the underlying assumption at work in this question. Ergo this answer is on point. It's possible with face recognition being done on an industrial scale by Facebook etc. that the badguy's photo could be connected to OP, and when law enforcement came a-knocking, say "yeah, and we've got a photo of the photographer!" Jun 24, 2018 at 15:19
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    @Harper: If that is the case then the answer should probably actually say that... Personally though I don't think what you say makes sense - the answer states that you should take photos in countries where it is allowed in which case by definition the people that the OP wants to stop taking photos aren't doing anything wrong. The answer reads to me like it is trying to shame people into stopping by putting them on the receiving end - something that I don't think will logically work. That having been said I it is now for the answerer to choose whether to clarify, incorporate or whatever.
    – Chris
    Jun 24, 2018 at 15:33
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    @Chris true, I see where he may be trying to go, but it's for him to actually take us there. Jun 24, 2018 at 15:47

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