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January 10, 2024 | MediaNew York

Is It Legal to Film in the NYC Subway?

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Andrew Raider Wood

Senior Counsel

Ellie Sanders

Associate Attorney

Since the advent and proliferation of camera phones in the 2000’s, photography and videography have increasingly become an expected and integral part of our daily lives.  For jaded commuters and bewildered tourists alike, the New York MTA subway system–its iconic architecture and dramatic engineering thronged with err, delightful and eccentric riders–is a naturally compelling subject for photo or video documentation.

The French Connection (1971), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), King of New York (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), and many lesser films and other content have been shot on these trains and platforms over the years.  While videography and photography are generally allowed in the subway, you should consider the following before taking out your phone or camera to shoot photos or video:

MTA Rules and Regulations

MTA Rules stipulate that in most cases, you are allowed to take photos and video on the NYC subway for personal, non-commercial use.

However, the use of any ancillary equipment (tripods, lighting/reflectors, including potentially selfie-sticks) is prohibited unless you’re a member of the press with valid credentials recognized by the NYPD or have a permit issued by the MTA.  Fines and penalties await those using such equipment without credentials.

Privacy Considerations

You need to respect the privacy rights of those you photograph or video in the subway.  Under Section 50 of the New York Civil Rights Law, individuals enjoy certain rights with respect to their name, likeness, and voice (or any reasonably identifiable facsimile thereof).

Respect others and have fun out there.  Exercise and enjoy your rights.


If you intend to use your videos or photographs for commercial purposes, it’s crucial to obtain written consent from any identifiable individuals depicted in your content.  For additional guidance on these issues, reach out to a member of our team, or in any event consult another qualified and admitted attorney.

Adapted from https://newyorkentertainmentlawyer.tumblr.com/post/28636966221/busmans-holiday



Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash
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