What Can I Photograph?

Canadian Photography Laws » Overview » What Can I Photograph?
Maybe Laws are complex and differ by city and province. This summary uses laws for Toronto, Ontario. If you are not taking photos here, some of these laws may not apply to you, and others may. Investigate the rules in your city/province in The Laws.
No You cannot photograph a person who has a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy‘. This is someone who believes that they are in a private location and no-one is watching them, such as a person in a bathroom. Criminal Voyeurism
Yes It is not illegal, nor against copyright to take photos of buildings, public art, and permanently installed sculptures.  Copyright Act
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What you are doing

Although taking the photo may not be illegal, what you are doing while taking the photo can be. This doesn’t necessarily make the photo illegal, but it can be used as evidence. Although every law applies here, the following cover a few that you have a greater chance of breaking:

No If you illegally enter a building or property, including breaking windows or locks to enter the building or property.  Breaking and Entering
No Misrepresenting yourself, using fake ID, saying that you are someone you are not, or associated with an organization you are not.  Fraud / Security of Information Act
No Being cruel to animals.  Cruelty to Animals
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Where you take the photo

Although taking the photo may not be illegal, where you are matters, since you may be breaking a law just by being there, or, if photography is not allowed, taking the photo may be what breaks the law. This doesn’t necessarily make the photo illegal, but it can be used as evidence.

Yes On your own property.
Yes On public property, like side walks. This includes taking photos of anything that a normal person could see from public property.
Yes On another person’s property, where you have permission from the owner, property manager, security guard, or other representative of the owner.
Yes Any private property that has a “photography allowed” sign, or that you have permission from the owner to take photographs.
No At night outside another person’s home, on their property, without permission.  Prowl At Night
No On private property that has a “no photography allowed” sign, or that you have been told by the owner not to take photographs. Trespassing
Maybe On property that is privately owned, but open to the public, like malls, galleries, etc. Although you should ask before taking photos, if there aren’t any “no photography” signs, you may take photos until told otherwise by the owner, property manager, security guard, or other representative of the owner.
No On private property, where you are not authorized to be, and have ignored a sign or instructions from the owner, like: “do not cross”, or “authorized personnel only”. Trespassing
No If you are a commercial photographer, and shoot on a Toronto highway, in a city park, or city-owned property without permit.  Toronto By-Laws
No If you are a commercial photographer, and shoot on TTC property, without permit.  TTC By-Laws
Yes Except what’s above, it is perfectly legal to take any other photograph.

 

 

I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. For more information, see the Disclaimer.