Street photographers need to be aware that the laws relating to photography are not always the same in each and every country. Actually, the differences between the laws of one country and another can be quite surprising.

On one hand, countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia allow street photographers to freely practice their craft. Most of the time, street photographers here only have to worry about staying in public places as they photograph, getting permission to photograph in places that are not open to the public, keeping their photographs from being used for commercial or illegal purposes, and being careful not to break any law as they photograph. For anyone whose sole intention is to take street photographs, the legal restrictions on photography in these countries are simple enough to understand.

On the other hand, some countries can be very strict with people who practice street photography. Let’s take a closer look at Saudi Arabia: It was only in August 2006 that photography was allowed in the country. But even now certain places are off-limits to photographers. Flout the rules and be apprehended by the police. Honestly, this strictness isn’t a surprise considering how conservative the society is and how much a person’s image means there. A photograph could be used to damage their images. This might be odd or even hard to accept for street photographers, but that’s the way things are.

It’s important to stress that laws in other countries are different—some just slightly, some significantly. And whether the difference is small or not, it’s a must to do some research before whipping out a camera anywhere. By being aware of other cultures, you protect yourself from unnecessary trouble and treat other people with respect.