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That “No Photography Allowed” Policy

This has happened to me and friends on many occasions and I know a lot of you have experienced this too but what’s with the “No Photography Allowed” policy in a lot of malls, parks and streets nowadays?

You can’t go around GreenBelt and shoot pictures without being confronted by security. We used to walk the streets of The Fort and take pictures but immediately be stopped by roaming guards asking for permit. Stroll around Salcedo park and taking photos is also a no-no.

Early today, we went around the Mall of Asia open grounds to take pictures of debris and fallen trees and we were stopped by roving guards asking us to delete all the photos we took.

I know it’s private property and they got all the right what they want visitors to do or not do. Besides, most of the time, it’s the huge dSLR-type of cameras they don’t normally allow.

Nevertheless, I kinda think Metro Manila is not very photographer-friendly (or tourist-friendly, for that matter) city.

So aside from getting that customary permit, others resort to some sort of guerrilla tactics:

  • Bringing sub-compact cameras that are not as conspicuous as dSLRs but take almost the same photo quality.
  • Bring a second empty flash/SD card and swap it with the original just before the security comes up to you and ask you to delete the photos. You can always tell them you’re shooting blanks.
  • Hit and run. Take photos as fast as you can and move around the area to avoid being spotted.

What do you usually do when you’re in this situation?

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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65 Responses

  1. jepoy says:

    I usually ignore them and walk away :~)

  2. rommel says:

    there was this one time that we are shooting vids and photos for our xmas party presentation. what we did is one of my team member talked to the guard and we continue shooting. hehe after we finished shooting we just said to the guard we will go.. hhehhehe

  3. manilamommy says:

    shoot and run! or i feign ignorance when caught, it works naman and the guards are just doing their jobs anyway so there’s no use arguing with them.

  4. sol says:

    only happened to me once when i was using my dSLR camera; what i did was ignore them and keep going, haha. i even pointed out other people that were taking pictures that they weren’t pestering, and guess what wala na silang mahirit dun.

  5. Jojo says:

    what i want to know is… what is the logic behind the policy? Security?

  6. nexus3g says:

    we also got apprehended taking photos in Cebu Business Park (Ayala center), Asiatown IT Park and SM Cebu Mall. and the sad thing is, security personnel wont bother foreigners taking shots. DISCRIMINATION

  7. asero says:

    It’s really not logical. If they allow the public to roam around the area, then everyone have the right to take photos if they want.

  8. Migs says:

    Complain to management. Whether mall, park, whatever. If I don’t want to take the hassle during that particular day, I give them a call when I’m free. If I don’t remember, it’s no skin off of my nose. If I remember, someones nose is going to get skinned. I do it nicely of course, but firmly enough to get my point across.

    A Restriction like this puts more of a burden on honest people than it does for anyone who might be doing something illicit.

  9. braindead says:

    it sucks.. unlike in other cities like singapore where your free to take pictures anywhere.. how do they expect to lure in the tourists if they keep on doing this?

  10. Jojo says:

    Thing is. This policy is across several that I am aware off. Particularly Ayala Malls. I didn;t know that SM had the same thing.

    Be that as it may, there must be a reason or precedent for this. So again, I ask… why?

  11. Francis says:

    This is news to me since I still see some people walking around High Street and Greenbelt taking pictures at the scenic areas. Maybe something is going on behind the scenes that made Ayala implement such a thing? I don’t know but if they keep doing that then it would make it harder for food bloggers, travel bloggers, and even just people who want to keep memories in general to have a remembrance of where they’ve been…

  12. Jojo says:

    @Francis… matagal na to. They are tolerant of the occasional “picture-picture” touristy shots and pictures where people are the main subject… but they seem to frown on people intentionally taking pictures of the mall. Especially, as described here, those with big-ass DSLRs.

  13. daddy joey says:

    use small but powerful micro four thirds camera or practice more your guerilla photography skills

  14. deuts says:

    Well, this is one thing maybe that I lost interest in photography–aside from the fact that maybe more and more people are lugging those big dslr’s around.

  15. frogprince28 says:

    @abeolandres Syet! As in? Akala ko sa cabanatuan lang yan. D2 nga camera phone binabawal e. Pag group pix. Hayy. Wat happend 2 pinas?

  16. Ayala. Was walking around just taking photos for my blog. Usual dumbfuck “bawal” guards. From that point on, I made it a point to take pictures of that building *every* time I pass it. I don’t know what the point is, these people have no logic.

    If anyone wanted to, anyone could just bribe the right people and get the blueprints to their precious buildings…so what’s their point again?

  17. *note*

    I take all/most of my photos from the street as much as possible. Aside from the nice street-level/passerby vantage point, public ground = I pay my taxes, keep your grubby hands off my pictures.

  18. Ardz says:

    Maybe the guards think that those who have DSLRs are professional photographers, thus the need for permits. Foreigners taking pictures in malls are often tourists so the guards don’t mind them. Just bring a P&S and you’ll be fine.

  19. cris says:

    Wow, didn’t know these ah.

    So maybe that adds up the “cons” of having a DSLR, that is, you’re likely to be apprehended by mall guards.

    That sucks pare…

  20. BungeeJack says:

    It is for security reasons. It gets intensified after 911 tragedy. Terrorists take high detailed pictures of places then plan on the attack of where to put bombs, blind spots, escape points, where guards usually situated, faces of guards (later bride for special access to places, )etc etc. Actually this precaution act of not allow people to take photos in business buildings or malls were also encouraged by the Police Force even in other countries.

    For other countries, the police force is usually the one taking care of the security. They are trained to determine if they are only taking pictures for fun or have other intention (suspicious). Usually taking A LOT of wide angle pictures is an alert point to the security. but a flower pot, a few friends, a few tree won’t trigger a threat.

    In philippines, the guards are the front end security everywhere we go, they are not highly trained and would really tends to be so generalize and just by saying taking pictures is not allowed or ask you to delete everything etc. As one of the comment stated. They are only instructed to do so. The true dumb ass is the one instructed them without giving enough training. =)

  21. 10g says:

    Kawawa naman yung gwardya, naging “escape goat”
    Kawawa naman yung litratista na may hawak na kamera, nawalan na ng interes sa sining na ito
    Ito ba ay dahil sa uso lamang ang DSLR? or dahil mahirap nang magtiwala sa mga di mo kilala?
    Sining laban sa seguridad laban sa pansariling kalayaan …whatdaf*ctory?

  22. re: no photography for “security” reasons

    “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

    – Benjamin Franklin

  23. Andre says:

    Is this even legal?

  24. Cliff Rosario says:

    What a shame.. but still.. Point..Shoot..Run.. always works right.. but some of the peeps already said that other countries do allow such thing.. wonder what makes manila or other part of our country that special.. are we like N. Korea? haha.. lol…

  25. Jose says:

    I have yet to hear about a DSLR owner being apprehended by a guard here in Baguio. Heck, people are free to roam around the malls with cameras of all sizes (as long as you’re not taking pictures of merchandise, I suppose; I was only stopped once for taking an up-close shot of a t-shirt, and even then, was asked politely by the salesperson). Guards even have the smarts to stay their poking sticks off photography equipment when inspecting my camera bag.

  26. Teknisyan says:

    Yeah.. I see no point in prohibiting photography on malls and other public places. But say… the Senate building or the Malacanang… we all know why they apprehend people from taking pictures of those place.

    I usually shoot and run mode… and just ignore them. If they apprehend you… just tell them… “Di naman yang building nyo pinipicturan ko ah!” since they cannot take the camera from you, it can be considered as thief/robbery and even a harassment. :)

    btw… how the heck do you get a permit from the building owner/city hall?

  27. winner says:

    This is plain paranoia.

    on a related incident, a security guard asked me to leave my iPad or any computer that i might have inside my bag because it is prohibited daw. i almost lost my bladder control upon hearing this weird rule. i argued and persisted that he allow me or else he will pay for it if somebody steal it then pumayag din. di ba karamihan ng cellphone ngayon may video capability na din? e yun hindi naman pinagbabawal dalhin sa sinehan, ang daming praning!

  28. I was shooting a documentary around Manila malls in May. I was taking shots with my video camera and SLR while getting the evil eye from the guards. I assume they didn’t step up to me because they could tell I was a “tourist”. For some shots where it’s obvious I shouldn’t be taking video, I used my Kodak Zi8 and held it like a cellphone.

  29. Winziph says:

    point shoot and run lol, maybe if photography are not allowed policy is implemented for security purposes in preventing terrorist attacks eh di okay lang siguro kung magpakuha na lang ng picture kay manong guard para siguradong picture picture lang yung habol mo hehe.

  30. IC DeaDPiPoL says:

    wait till someone mods a dslr camera to carry a hybrid taser/chloroform mist sprayer just to keep security at bay. XD

    related quote: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0132347/quotes?qt0473842

  31. Boo says:

    I usually feign a foreign accent and say “I don’t undah-stand you!” but kidding aside, they seem to go after folks with a dSLR. I’ve shot numerous times at Ayala malls using a point and shoot (Sony w300) and have never been harassed or stopped by guards. I’ve even shot at MoA earlier too.

  32. lawrence says:


    open grounds ng MOA dun sa likod na may view ng manila bay? that sucks. un panmn lage destination namin pra mgpcture after roaming around the mall.

    I think depende din yan sa place/establishment o sa orientation ng management. callcenters have this practice since then, na kht applicant kplng ipapaiwan sa guard lht ng gadget mo (even USB drives)sa reception area palang. I was hesitant to leave my iphone back then, kaso no choice eh. but to impose this to a more public friendly places like malls is a little off. no its BS!!

  33. JayEsguerra says:

    Tingin ko ayaw lang ng Ayala management ang mga “paparazzi” to protect their privacy conscious clients, especially the VIPs. I have this experience before wherein a guard politely asked me to just shoot people who belongs to our group and not to take photos of their other customers.

  34. i noticed two things:

    when i bring DSL: sita kaagad, Legaspi garden palang facing Greeenbelt 1.

    when i bring digicam: baliwala lang when taking pictures near the giant wristwatch area.

    when i bring camphone: balewala lang din even inside the mall

    ergo, bring a non-DSL and they won’t give you a damn.

  35. MSDS says:

    maybe for security purposes…
    Remember the 2007 Glorietta explosion…


  36. marvin says:

    Photos should be allowed . Its just photos anyway!

  37. IC DeaDPiPoL says:


    Are there any proofs that a group of evil cameras caused that explosion?

  38. Herce says:

    2007 glorietta explosion was due to Ayala negligence. That’s a fact proven by the investigation. NOT terrorism!

    Stupidity is in blindly following the US on these things. Have you been to Taipei, KL, any city in China? They don’t have such stupidity since they are not US lapdogs.

    The US is ruining itself with all the trumped up fear, it is sad that GMA followed Bush so blindly. Hopefully our new President will take a different path.

  39. Alwin says:

    I remember seeing Korean-looking guys trying to take a picture along Ayala Ave with the RCBC Tower in the background. The guard from GT Tower approached them and prohibited them from doing so. I’m assuming they are tourists, poor guys :(

    I use phone camera to take pictures. That’s why I opted to have one with higher res.

  40. roan carl says:

    just shoot the guards with sig p229 hehehe..
    kidding aside I even used videocam inside moa,megamall,festivall,glorietta suprisingly no guard bothered me..maybe because im with my wife & 2 young kids..

  41. spycampinoy says:

    hahaha ……pag foreigner di nila sinisita…. mga tol bili na lang kayo spycam….spypen etc. spy gadgets kung gusto nyo mag photo shoot or video shoot sa mga malls…. as far as i know walang laws na nagbabawal mag photo shoot …. praning lang ang mga nag-uutos sa mga guards ng malls Xd

  42. alex says:

    i’ve experienced that a lot of times, once i was in trinoma i asked the guard why it’s prohibited to take pics and he said, “baka kasi gayahin yung design ng mall.”

    i was like wtf??

  43. Joshua says:

    This is another minus on tourism…

  44. nexusboy says:

    Ayala properties have roaming security guards apprehending PEOPLE using DSLR in taking photos of the buildings and landscape. They approached us and ask if we have PERMIT from the admin. they said TAKING PHOTOS of the buildings is prohibited for this simple reason: PRIVATE PROPERTY. watdafreak?!?! we have to secure permit daw, it only takes a few minutes, and for FREE.

    i’m inside a private property, Ayala Business Park in this case, if they don’t want their buildings shot with DSLR, they should’ve just covered it with CLOTH! only in the Philippines talaga!

  45. lolipown says:

    The Philippines isn’t the only nation that’s hostile to SLR owners. The UK and some US states are quite hostile (in the UK it’s illegal to take a picture of cops).
    For some hindsight, check out Photography is Not a Crime: http://carlosmiller.com/

    As for MOA, yeah it’s really the most unfriendliest place for an SLR owner.

    “They are instructed to do so.” While I agree, most of the time, they’re just asshats.

  46. MarkAnt says:

    You could used GoPro HD Hero for taking great photos without sacrificing quality but not DSLR like form factor! :)

  47. lolipown says:

    How about a 4/3rd?

  48. jason says:

    The Petronas Tower base shopping mall prohibits taking pictures inside.

  49. Maye says:

    Hit and run! Works all the time. :) hehehe

  50. olrak says:

    @lolipown EH? i went to London last month and I had my picture taken with cops inside the Tube and outside Windsor (this one had a sub-machine gun with him).

  51. mr.Orange says:

    my first post…

    first experienced this at Rockwell – Pwoerplant mall. bawal daw pero wala sa policy ng mall, I asked them for their policy wala sila ma-present. then two guards were already beside me telling me there is a politician in the Mall kaya bawal. If I take one more shot, they’d confiscate the camera.


    btw, this was a few years back, when the Yaris first came out.

  52. lolipown says:

    By law… their legislation (and claim) not mine.
    Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act.

  53. Ulv says:

    Sm appliance sm center point – no taking pictures of prices baka nakawin ang idea nilang magtinda ng LCD at led tv. I took my business somewhere else and for good reason that they are also one of the more expensive places to buy appliances.

  54. jdcRoSe says:

    I know of this policy in most of the malls but (good thing) I wasn’t caught yet. I’m fond of taking pictures especially on some occasions i spent on malls. My boyfriend is now into photography & just recently bought a DLSR which he always bring with him when we do our mallings and trips. We’re still lucky we do not encounter these incidents. But my point is, what’s the logic with this policy anyways? In my opinion as well, i think the mall management is just protecting their rights, as a public location, on the grounds that they are the only/authorize person to use their facilities for advertising purposes. Maybe they do not want others to use their location for personal advertisement use. got my point?

  55. manong says:

    what does yuga look like? ahh! ok.. kaya naman pala.. :p

    have u seen how sexy that russian spy caught lately by the fbi? imagine that! from movies to real life..

  56. manong says:


    u take pictures of prices? i know someone invented the pen and paper i just forgot their names..

    i agree on the policy in general since dslrs capture in great detail that shop owners and security personnel cannot risk the “negative” consequences it may bring.

    “with expensive dslr comes great responsibility”

    is it that hard to get the permit from admin? if these are the posters’ attitude.. mahirap tlaga! kung si noynoy sumusunod sa batas, kayo pa?

  57. Syn Villareal says:

    I was once approached by a security guard in SM City Cebu. I was taking a picture of my 2year old daughter eating ice cream outside the grocery. I asked why and he cannot give me a clear reason. He then told me that its not allowed anywhere in SM City Cebu to take picture. This is very silly. I’m not interested in their products’ prices or design. I’m more interested in my daughter whose face is all dirty with ice cream!

  58. Joshua says:

    This is disgusting… who even gave this rule anyway?

  59. Nathan Deveza says:

    sa akin parati kong nararanasan ang pag sita ng mga guardiya saakin sa Ayala Malls.. kasi naka 1000D ako na may battery grip at 75-300mm lens na naka kabit.. tinatanong nila saakin,

    1st scenario (sa labas ng mall kasama ko dad ko)
    guard: ser para saan po iyan?
    me: ikaw ba ang subject ko?
    guard: ser bawal po kasi mag picture dito..
    me: mukha ba akong terorista?
    guard: ser bawal po talaga mag picture dito eh..
    me: so kung bawal edi bakit hindi ninyo sitahin lahat ng nag.pi.picture dito mapa camera phone, digicam at slr?
    guard: ser ginagawa po namin lahat..
    me: eh paikot iokt lang kayo at nag wo.walkie talkie lang kayo eh..
    guard: (napikon at umalis)

    2nd scenario (sa loob ng mall sa may Timezone kasama ko ang dalawang kaibigan ko)

    guard: ser para saan po iyan?
    me: its for personal use..
    guard: ser bawal po mag picture sa loob ng Timezone..
    me: eh pinipicturan ko yung kaibigan ko eh BAWALA BA IYON?
    guard: ser bawal pa din po yun eh..
    me: saan banda? nakasaad ba sa Saligang Batas na bawal kunan ng litrato ang mga kaibigan mo?
    guard: (na tameme *tahimik)
    me: halika tawagin mo yung manager ng Timezone at mag usap tayo!
    (tinawag ng guard yung general manager ng time zone)
    GM: sir ano po ang problema?
    me: eh yung guard ninyo dito bawal daw mag picture ditosa Timezone eh..
    GM: sir bawal naman po talaga ang mag picture dito sa loob ng Timezone..
    me: eh bakit ako lang ang sinisita ninyo? nag libot kami at kinuha ng isa kong kaibigan yung baril sa arcade tapos sinabi niya na picturan ko daw siya kinuhaan ko naman.. anong masama dun?
    GM: sir ginamit ninyo yung property namin para sa picture eh..
    me: ah ganon? so bawal naming gamitin ang mga arcade machines dahil property ninyo? edi bawal din pala kami mag laro dito?
    GM: hindi naman po sa ganun.. (kinakabahan na)
    me: eh dun nga sa maliit na merry go round kung saan malapit sa battle gear 4 na nilalaro ko and dami daming nag pipicture dun ng mga magulang sa kanilang anak.. bakit hindi ninyo sitahin yun? tska yung mga gumagamit ng digicam or cellphone cam hindi ninyo sitahin? bakit ako lang? eh subject ko naman yung kaibigan ko? may pang bili kami ng load pero wala kaming pambili ng airsoft o TOTOONG baril para gamiting props!
    GM: sorry po sa abala sir..
    me: this is a place of fun! ever since dumating yung timezone dito sa pinas eh dito na ako nag lalaro ng mga pinsan at kaibigan ko at nag pipicturan pa kami.. hindi ako aalis dito hangat wala kayong gagawin tungkol dito at wala akong nakukuha..
    GM: sir im sorry po for the actions of our security gagawin na po namin yung gusto ninyong mangyari at kunin ko po yung card ninyo para loadan ng P1,000..

    ending may ginawa sila tungkol dun pero ganun pa din sa buong mall..

  60. Korina says:

    This has been ongoing since after 9/11. I was at Podium several years back because of a project for a class at UP Diliman. Digital cameras were not the thing then. I was using a film camera. They asked me to stop taking pictures of the mall. They even dragged me to the security office! I was really pissed. They told me to get a permit. I told them how come they don’t apprehend those who sit down at a coffee shop and sketch? Logically speaking, it’s the same right? I got mad, cried (still in college then… :p) and told my dad.

    But since I was really bent on finishing the project, I had my dad “pose” while I take pictures.

    It’s a weird rule. I don’t think those who want to do something bad would take pictures. They probably have really good memories or sketch it.

  61. ging says:

    kung private property naman pala at bawal ang photography sa loob e di wag na sila magpapasok ng tao, sarilihin nila establishment nila…naknang!

  62. BenjWorld says:

    Hi, You don’t need to publish this.

    I just want to say that I like this article and same way happened to my cousin which led to the argument between him and the security guard in the park in Pasig.

    Also, with your permission, I would also like to share this article in my website and blog, if its okay with you?

    Thank you and more power.


  63. KIMCHI says:

    eksena sa lon ng sm las pinas hypermarket

    gm: bwal po ang pag picture DITO
    me: cnu my sBI

  64. Budz says:

    hay naku rason lang yan ng mga mayayamang tao na makunan kasama ang mga kabit nila

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