Im currently working on a project that involves walking a circular route around bristol city centre and photographing 12 locations that roughly fall onto the hour points of a 12 hour clock face. As you might imagine, some of the locations fall on visually interesting areas, others lead me to some pretty random places - one of which was the area in question, Woodland Rd in Clifton which links Park Row and Tydalls Park Rd. Right in the heart of Bristol University land...
As i looked around for some sort of interesting vantage point, i noticed the University security car on patrol and took note that they were obviously wondering what i was doing. I set up my tripod and camera on a traffic island at the junction of Woodland Rd and University walk and managed to capture a couple of shots of passing cars and the light trails they left behind. This was when the security guards pulled up along side me and interrogated me over my motivations.
I explained that i was nothing to do with the University and that i was a local artist taking images of Bristol landscapes for a project i was working on. They told me i was acting suspiciously and that i was actually on private property. I asked if there was a problem with me taking photos here and they answered "No, but we might consider letting you continue as long as you give us your full name and contact details". I asked them why they needed this information and what they would do with it - to be met with a very aggressive, "Are you declining to give us your name?!"
I told them that without clarification of what they intended to do with my details that i would not be telling them and that i would rather pack up my kit and leave - which is what i did.
There is no doubt that the security guards in question could have been more cooperative and polite, but i do understand that it may seem unusual for someone to be out at 11pm in the freezing cold taking images of the middle of the road. However i still wonder if i was actually doing any thing wrong.
The general consensus on taking images of private buildings is that you are permitted to do so - as long as you are taking them whilst stood on public property...
My question is - Does anybody know if Woodland Road, BS8, Bristol is University property or is it a public right of way just as any other normal road in the city is?
Some very interesting comments, including a statement from the Head of Security at the University of Bristol, and a resolution from Bristol City Council on the Bristol Flickr thread HERE