Issues with railway photography in CH?

Andrew Moglestue

When photographing trains, and even more so trams (which is more my main interest in photography) it is virtually impossible not to get people in the picture, and indeed shots with people in them are generally the more interesting ones.

I have had some, but remarkably few, interactions with people who objected.

By far the largest number of run ins I had were not with people who objected to their picture being taken, but by over-zealous security guards.

I was in one country in the east recently and what they really wanted was money. I fortunately had a smaller bank note in my pocket and could buy them off before they forcibly deleted pictures or confiscated the camera.

The steup was that they told me that I needed to get a photo permit from some office that conveniently happened to be closed on that day. When I asked to talk to their superior officer or manager, strangely he could not be found either.

But if i would give them a small amount of money they promised to "protect" me.

The entire conversation and exchange of money took place in full view of a security camera (this was in a station). So I guess they had the power to make evidence disappear and it was wise not to challenge them unnecessarily.

But i don't think anything like that would be the case in Switzerland.


Am 20.08.2020 um 10:03 schrieb Chris Wood via
picture which aims to depict the person as such is considered an
infringement of personality rights
This is the important point. Because there is also the right to freely depict public places in Switzerland ("Panoramafreiheit"). This means, taking a photo of a train where you can see people but not necessarily recognizing them, is allowed. But taking a detail photo of a train window with exactly one, clearly recognizable person, is an infringement of personality. Somebody standing in a public place, e.g. a railway platform, seeing me taking photos and not moving back, can't claim an infringement of personality.

It's not always easy to distinguish the two situations. I never had a problem with this in railway stations. But I once had in the street in front of my house. For some reason I wanted to take a photo of the street. I saw a strange chap walking in my direction. I could have well done without that chap in my picture but he didn't seem to bother so I took my photo and stepped toward my house. Suddenly that chap was behind me, shouting I had taken a picture of him and that wasn't allowed and I had to delete the photo. Now I wasn' t in the mood to argue with him, even more as I really didn't like him to be in my picture, so I deleted it and took another photo.

Of course I hadn't deleted all pictures with his image... but I still don't like them. I prefer the ones without him. ;-)

Markus, G├╝rbetal


infringement of personality.
Just to clarify 'personality' isn't the correct English word to use here. The phrase should be 'personal rights' or equivalent