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Thread: Photography in Public Places

  1. #1
    pixel pete's Avatar
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    Photography in Public Places

    Hi everyone,
    Just wanted to share this post I wrote about Photography in Public Places.

    It obviously can't possibly cover everyone since laws are subject to ....

    Mostly it's common sense. Thanks for reading.

    http://rising.blackstar.com/seven-ti...ic-places.html

  2. #2
    David's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Nice one Peter - I've bookmarked it for further study and reference.

    David

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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Thanks for the inspiration. It's badly needed, as I tend to be too shy to even consider taking photos of people, I don't know.

    In Denmark - at least theoretically speaking - photoamateurs need to consider: 1) The right to take a picture (we usually consider photos taken publically of more than 2-3 people O.K.), 2) The right to publish the picture on the internet, 3) The right to sell the picture.

    Regards

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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Hi Pete,

    Nicely written

    A couple of thoughts come to mind ...

    1. I think that "how comfortable people feel about being photographed" varies between countries to a significant degree. Here in New Zealand most would possibly feel more "shy" about being photographed than perhaps in some countries where they may take it more as a "threat". In my experience of shooting here - where I'm usually setup on a tripod for landscape - nobody really pays too much attention; in fact they'll often be the ones to wander into a scene and I'll have to wait for them to move out.

    2. I suspect that the response that you'll get from people often depends on your personality and people skills; some amongst us (myself EXcluded) are far more comfortable dealing with the public - they have the confidence - they have the people skills - they can think on their feet and just always know the "right thing to say". A friend of mine works in a camera store - a lady brought in some photos to be printed - and they turned out to be of "herself and other ladies doing things that you wouldn't print in a family photo album" (I'm sure you catch my drift!). My friend - being the master of public interaction - said to her when she came to pick them up: "We have something in common" - the lady enquired "What's that?" - he replied "We both like women!" (with a big smile on his face). Apparantly the other staff just about died on the spot - but he got away with it!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Good tips there Pete,

    I seemed to have missed this post until today

    I don't generally frequent parks, but where I go to take pics of birds on the river often has people around, some occasionally look at me a bit oddly, but I'm always willing to chat and show what I've taken - as one of your replier's said. And 99% of the time it is just the wildlife. Often it seems to be the bloke trying to work out what camera model I've got

    Cheers,

  6. #6
    pixel pete's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Colin,
    I clicked on the thumbs up icon and realized the icon was used to flag something as "useful" NOT "Like" sorry. It's great tale to be sure. I've known a few photolab workers with their own collection of rare pictures.

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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Am I the only one who sees black text on dark grey. in Firefox and IE?

    It was well worth reading, though

  8. #8
    pixel pete's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    thanks for saying so, Peter. I'm not seeing black text on dark grey but I'm on Safari and a Mac.

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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Hi Pete,

    Thanks so much for posting your article. It was both informative and amusing.

    I don't take photos of people, and never let anyone take photos of me (well, not since I was able to deny consent ), but I was wondering how the law applies to taking photos of people's property. Not only houses, but their animals and possessions. Is it OK to take photos of those without permission if you don't intend to use the images for commercial use?

    Seri

  10. #10
    pixel pete's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Seri,
    I can only speak to pictures of people. When it comes to their animals, I'm going to guess that should be okay unless that particular animal is so distinctive that the owner doesn't want you to able to use its likeness to make money.

    If you shoot a really tight picture or in such a way that you can't tell one dog from another, how are they going to prove the dog is theirs?

    As for property I would think the same applies. If there are no distinguishing features that the owner can show the property is theirs, you should be good. Generally speaking, if you didn't trespass to take such a picture, I really think they can't make a big case of it.

    Hope that helps. Note, I'm not an attorney and I don't want to be one, but my years at a newspaper I've always operated like that.

    News organizations have one advantage that the common person doesn't. As long as they can prove something is newsworthy, they can sometimes get away with a lot more.

  11. #11
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Many thanks, Pete,

    That's exactly what I needed to know

    Seri

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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Quote Originally Posted by Seriche View Post
    Hi Pete,

    Thanks so much for posting your article. It was both informative and amusing.

    I don't take photos of people, and never let anyone take photos of me (well, not since I was able to deny consent ), but I was wondering how the law applies to taking photos of people's property. Not only houses, but their animals and possessions. Is it OK to take photos of those without permission if you don't intend to use the images for commercial use?

    Seri
    Regarding property, it depends on the property and how easy it is for you to get the photograph. You can take a photograph of the exterior of a private home in the U.S. as long as the spot you are taking it is public property. If you need to enter the boundaries of the home owner's land then you are trespassing. The same goes for public buildings unless it is specifically written or stated that you cannot infringe on a landmark, trademarked image. As stated in the initial message, pointing your camera at a homeowner's dwelling requires some decorum on the photographer's part. You cannot point it directly at an open window and if there is a fence surrounding the property, you wouldn't want to lean over, especially if someone is sunbathing or relaxing. Photographing someone's animals is a bit vague also especially in different countries. If the animal is in a public area then you have some freedom to take the photograph, but if the animal is being sheltered on private property then it is a totally different matter and permission should be gained beforehand.

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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Peter, your posting contains a lot of common sense ideas which I would think would be appropriate to just about any place in the world. laws may be a bit different from one country to another but most of your suggestions would stand positive just about anywhere.

    I have been taking pictures of people all my life and almost never ask permission before the shot. One thing in my favor is that I am very quick with my camera. Raising a camera and popping off an image or two often is not even noticed. If I see someone has noticed me, I usually nod at my camera, smile at them and nod my head. This is the international sign language for saying, "I took your picture, I hope it's O.K." If they smile back, I will take another picture, usually not quite as good as the first series because the subject is aware of my camera. If the shake their head, no! I don't take any more pictures but, I have the first couple of images safely on my CF card. Using a longer lens enables me to shoot portraits of people without getting into their face and making myself obvious.

    I have had some folks get angry, A lady who was washing her front steps in San Miguel Allende, Mexico threatened to throw her bucket of water at me! She never did but, I retreated quickly. Some cultures believe that camera will steal their souls. I had to be very careful shooting Montegnard tribespeople in Vietnam's Central Highlands for that very reason.

    I never shoot strange children here in the US because I don't want to be considered "Chester the Molester" but, I felt free to shoot any child I saw in China. The Chinese appear to consider it a compliment that a tourist wants to shoot a picture of their kids. And, most likely, there aren't to many child molesters in China who are blue eyed and over six feet tall.

    I am careful shooting pictures in sensitive areas. I will shoot in airports but, don't shoot around the security areas. I try to use a bit of common sense about where I shoot but don't call the security types (be they police or private) a bunch of Gestapo Thugs if they try to prevent me from shooting anywhere. They are after all trying to do their jobs. It is a shame that security has tightened so drastically but, I can understand the need for security.

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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    My one incident involving my shooting in a public place occurred in downtown Los Angeles. There was a television program or movie being filmed and I was standing in the doorway of some type of office building taking photos. The building manager came out and said that although I wasn't photographing his building he had to ask me to move on from the premises. I wasn't too angry because I had already taken all the shots I wanted, but I wonder how I would have felt if I had just set up a tripod, set up my camera and settings and at just that right moment, I was asked to leave!

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    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    It's very interesting reading about people's experiences, and it's made me wonder when and where the first laws applying to photographers in public places were made. I'd like to read about the philosophy and reasoning behind their creation, as well as finding out if they were made anew, or were in part taken from any extant laws applying to artists before photography was invented.

    I would be happy to follow any link anyone might be kind enough to give me.

    I also wonder which unlucky photographer was the first to be prosecuted under such laws.

    Seri

  16. #16

    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Quote Originally Posted by Seriche View Post
    It's very interesting reading about people's experiences, and it's made me wonder when and where the first laws applying to photographers in public places were made. I'd like to read about the philosophy and reasoning behind their creation, as well as finding out if they were made anew, or were in part taken from any extant laws applying to artists before photography was invented.

    I would be happy to follow any link anyone might be kind enough to give me.

    I also wonder which unlucky photographer was the first to be prosecuted under such laws.

    Seri
    Uh oh I think I need to read this thread.

  17. #17
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Quote Originally Posted by jupiterlush View Post
    Uh oh I think I need to read this thread.
    Hi Al

    Have you read no. 4 here yet?

    http://rising.blackstar.com/seven-ti...ic-places.html

    Pretty sure you're OK with those last shots as they can't be identified. I admire you for having the courage to take photos of people in public

    Seri

  18. #18
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    Quote Originally Posted by Seriche View Post
    It's very interesting reading about people's experiences, and it's made me wonder when and where the first laws applying to photographers in public places were made. I'd like to read about the philosophy and reasoning behind their creation, as well as finding out if they were made anew, or were in part taken from any extant laws applying to artists before photography was invented.

    I would be happy to follow any link anyone might be kind enough to give me.

    I also wonder which unlucky photographer was the first to be prosecuted under such laws.

    Seri
    There are many sources of information, both on the web and in print. I found this link after picking up Dan Heller's book in the public library. It is based on U.S. law but it is a good starting point.

    http://www.danheller.com/model-release-copyrights.html

  19. #19
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    BTW: Often laws are written for specific uses and seem ridiculous if viewed out of context.

    There was a time, I don't know if the law is still on New York City's books, that you needed special permission to use a tripod in New York City's Central Park. This law was written to keep the park from being overrun with silent movie producers in the early 20th Century using the park as their private motion picture sets.

    Other tripod regulations are in effect because a tripod can be a tripping hazard in a busy area.

    Finally, of course, some museums prohibit tripods not so much because they block traffic as because the museums would rather sell you images of their displays than allow you to photograph the displays for yourself.

  20. #20
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    Re: Photography in Public Places

    I can see having "something" to show you are just a photographer and not some unsavory character... for amateurs like myself, someone who isn't selling prints at this time, is a business card of some sort sensible to put someone at ease if Im approached? I sometimes get strange looks or "the eye" when I am trying to take people photos (Im in Amish country so theres alot of interesting opportunities).

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