Reports of photography enthusiasts being stopped while taking pictures near the British Airways London Eye have prompted management for the famous attraction to outline its stringent rules.

The move comes after a photographer claimed a security guard threatened to confiscate his camera and tripod unless he ceased taking pictures near the London Eye, which is one of the UK?s most popular tourist landmarks, standing 135m high on London?s South Bank. The attraction pulls in up to 15,000 visitors a day.

While it is not clear whether the guard worked for the London Eye, its press office claims that security staff are not instructed to confiscate equipment from photographers who do not seek permission.

However, it warns that anyone using ?professional or semi-professional equipment? ? with or without a tripod ? should seek prior permission or risk being stopped by the attraction?s security personnel or other staff working for the London Eye.

This means that all photographers using such gear ? even enthusiasts taking non-commercial shots handheld ? must contact the London Eye ‘press office’ at least two days before they intend to take pictures so they can be booked in.

The strict rules apply to compact cameras mounted on tripods, as well as camera models that are professional in appearance.

Speaking to AP?s news editor Chris Cheesman, London Eye spokeswoman Jen Brown said: ?The chances are you won?t be stopped if you are not using a tripod and you?ve got a small handheld digital compact that fits in the palm of your hand.?

The spokeswoman explained that ? whether they intend to take a ride on the Eye or not ? photographers need prior clearance, partly because they can get in the way of tourists. By allocating them a time slot, London Eye management can book them in when the area is least busy to help control congestion.

In addition, depending on the nature of the shoot, the photographer may need to pay a fee if he or she plans to use the resulting images for commercial reasons.

We also understand that tripods may attract unwanted attention because they are banned from being carried onto the London Eye. So, staff patrolling the area may quiz photographers to establish whether they intend to take a flight.

Admitting that its ?blanket policy? means photo enthusiasts sometimes get a ?bit of a raw deal?, she added: ?There are people who say they are amateurs, who are not? People who tend to use tripods tend to be doing something of a semi-professional or professional nature.?

In October, AP features writer Ben Brain spotted an elderly enthusiast being told to move on after setting up his tripod in an area in front of the nearby London Aquarium. The reader had been attempting to take night shots of the Houses of Parliament, which is across the river.

The London Eye’s press office can be contacted at or by calling 0870 220 2777 (open Monday to Friday).

? For the full story and more advice about taking photographs of the London Eye see this week?s issue of AP, in shops on Tuesday 12 December.

Picture: Chris Cheesman