If you ever decide to travel to Chernobyl, you will probably want a few happy snaps to remember your trip by. Thankfully taking photos or shooting video won’t be an issue in most places – but a few restrictions do apply.
The first restrictions apply to the security checkpoints at the 30km and 10km exclusion zones around the reactor – you can’t take photos of security arrangements on the way in, or of the checkpoint itself.
The other restrictions are at the reactor itself: below is a map showing the usual route that tour groups take around the plant.
Your first view of the main power station complex is from the south, where they are happy for you to take photos from.
From the same location the never completed reactors 5 and 6 can be seen.
On leaving this point, a ban on photography applies until you arrive at the sarcophagus – no snapping photos of the power station from the tour bus!
From the viewing platform, you are only 300 metres from the over the failed reactor no. 4.
Our guide instructed us that we were only allowed to take photographs of the sarcophagus and the monument: no turning left to see the concrete wall around the reactor, no turning right to the construction site of the New Safe Confinement structure next door, and definitely not zooming in on the security office that was watching us on CCTV.
We also received a spiel about what will happen if you break the rules – security staff come out from the power station and will detain your tour group for a period of time, ask you to delete any photos that you shouldn’t have, and generally make life difficult for you.
How much of our guide’s story is true and how much is hyperbole? From the photos of Chernobyl I’ve found online, every photo has been taken from the exact same angle, and I can’t find a photo of the area around it – either everyone follows the rules or the security staff will shake you down.
We then got back into the minibus, skirting the perimeter fence of the power station until we reached the entrance to the ghost city of Pripyat. Again, no photos of the power station were allowed along the way.
The rest of the day was spent exploring Pripyat, where we were free to take photos of whatever we liked. The only photography restrictions on the way home were on the return drive past the power station, as well as the checkpoints on the way out.
When you visit your experiences may vary from mine – the above restrictions were the ones I encountered on my trip. A number of different tour companies will take you to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, but each of them has to hire an official guide from the government to show you around, so the likelihood of your guide telling you something different will be low.