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Old 3rd of August 2006 (Thu)   #1
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Default Taking photos of general public

Especially during summer time, there are a lot of public outdoor events like street fairs, arts and wine festivals, farmers' markets, etc. I would like to take pictures of those events and random photo of people in general. Is there any law prohibit me from doing so? Do I need to ask everyone in the photo to give premission or sign a wavier? I don't plan to sell any of the photo, just for my own pratice of taking portrait and candid shots and I don't want to get into any kind of trouble.
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Old 3rd of August 2006 (Thu)   #2
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

Watch out with questions like this - even lawyers take photos and they'll come out of the woodwork. I don't think you have much to worry about. There is a 'reasonable expectation of privacy' issue that generally controls this stuff. People in public places don't have much expectation of privacy IMO.
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Old 3rd of August 2006 (Thu)   #3
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

I'll point out from the top that I'm not a lawyer.

That said, my understanding is that you're basically safe as long as you are a sensible, reasonable person. Ever watch a TV broadcast of a sports event and see them focus on a cute kid (or a cute young woman) in the crowd? I can guarantee that they didn't get model releases first!

Nor do TV news crews get model releases when they do a crowd shot (although they do get a release when they do an interview).

When people go out in public, there is a reasonable expectation that other people will see them. That includes things like being inadvertently photographed. Imagine what it would be like to try to get a shot of Times Square on New Year's Eve if you had to get permission from every identifiable person!

There are also gray areas. If your photos are for personal use, you're definitely safe. If the person you photograph is a public figure, you're very safe (that's why paparazzi can do horribly embarrassing shots of Britney Spears on the beach).

If you take a closeup of a non-public person (such as you or me) in a public place, and then publish it on the front cover of a national magazine, things get a bit more interesting. You're probably still safe if the photo is flattering, or if it's clearly arty (look in a camera mag for candid shots). But if it's seriously embarrassing (for example, you caught me picking my nose) I might be able to argue in court that you've damaged my reputation.

Also, remember that people can complain--and sue--even if the law isn't on their side. If you publish a photo that includes a stranger, there's always a tiny risk that the subject will whine at you, or even file a lawsuit that will be very expensive to defend. For me, that's sort of like the risk I take every time I get in a car--small but real. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 3rd of August 2006 (Thu)   #4
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

some times there are very odd individuals that i want to take pics of ( iam in japan and speak no japanese) normally if i motion towards or with the camera they smile in an affirming way... and i go for it. they are flattered normally. if they are true crowd candids, or just wide shots, id say dont worry about it. On the other hand if you want a serious portrait style candid of a interesting subject, i think that it isnt right to "sneak" it with a zoom or something like that. if they are in a parade, or performance, shoot away. like the others have said, those people have a reasonable expectation that they will be a focal point, and will be photographed.

That said, i think that every person in okinawa is a "ham" and LOVES to have their picture taken by a guy like me... no questions asked. I have had so many people snap into funny poses, dance, or wave to draw my camera's attention towards them. here I have found it very easy to get crowd shots.
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Old 3rd of August 2006 (Thu)   #5
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

I recently got my Rebel XT and am a n00b photographer. I recently had a bad and embarrassing event that I'll share.

I live in a affluent republican area and next to a public pool and Middle School. I was walking around the outside of the pool with the new camera and taking some pics. Since it had just stopped raining there were only about 5 people at the pool. I thought it was obvious that I wasn't being some leering weirdo with a camera. I took some pics through the fence of lined up beach chairs and an empty guard tower. So at the time there was a bushy headed life guard giving a private lesson to a small child maybe 4 years old. They had a kick board and it was cute image. I focused on them but then the subjects turned and I never took the pic. As I was leaving the guard called out through the fence and asked me what I was taking pictures for. I replied I just got a new camera and was just shooting around. He then asked if I took their picture. I told him I thought about it but had not. He then said something about my having to get permission from the parents. I said yea I guess your right but since I had not taken a picture I just went on my way. So then I circled around the block and took some shots of empty tennis courts, flowers and the normal n00b stuff that I do. When I got back around and was headed to my apartment, a police crusier pulled up. That’s right they actually called the police because I was taking pictures! In retrospect I can see how someone would get the wrong idea of me…some gut standing on the outside of a pool fence taking pictures. The cops didn't physically touch me but asked me for my personal info: where I worked, what I was doing, etc. The cops didn't ask but I voluntarily showed my pictures to prove that I had not taken their pictures.

The whole police thing freaked me out for a couple of days. Two cop cars and another one circling. They basically held me there so they could get the callers story.After the fact I did some checking into the laws and am now pretty sure I hadn't done anything against the law even if I had taken the picture. Looking back I should have told the cops to go blow and if they wanted to arrest me either do it now or they can come and get me in my apartment. I have no criminal record and not even a single moving violation in the last 6 years!

So as far as taking picture in public these are some of my opinions and findings. ...

Use common sense.. when in doubt ask. You may not be breaking the law but your might p___ people off and there is already enough of that to go around... twice. You might also end up with a broken nose if your not careful. Example ... My wife and I recently went to an air show and my wife caught some guy zooming in on her... she gave him the bird and then blocked his view with an umbrella.

If your going to profit from a photo of a person that is not news worthy and they are/have recognizable features, you need to get oral or written permission. Exceptions include crowds, parades/displays and public figures and people in a place where they don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy. But there again it's always nicer to ask when possible.

I'm sure there're some journalists here that would be better able to clarify when something is newsworthy and privacy laws. I mostly wanted to share my embarrassing police story.

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Old 3rd of August 2006 (Thu)   #6
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

I always like to refer these type of questions to a man that knows the answer...This is not an endorsement of his business...he does have a legal opinion on the matter and it is solid...take it for what it is worth, your mileage may vary...
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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #7
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

It all depend which public places you are shooting.
like pools, gym , hotels they are big no no.

Where as park, stadiums, streets are safer options.
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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #8
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

That police story scared me .....
But it is something to seriously consider.

I'm a newby and a bit shy of taking pics of the general public, actually I think there are some that do not mind but they are in the minority.
Actually that's how I'd feel myself, If caught in a landscape by a photographer
it would not bother me or be in my space , but if zoomed in on then I'd feel
as though my personal space was being invaded.
Once I was walking about and came up on an interesting scene, as I composed the shot I saw someone there that did'nt see me yet,
regrettably I kept on walking...............
Another time at a public place the subject made eye contact and smiled,
I nervously took a hasty pic and waved back thanking them......
People make some of the most interesting photo subjects, I hope to
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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #9
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

To be honest, taking pictures poolside unless it is a swimming event is definitely going to give the wrong impression to anyone who sees it, especially if young children are in the pool or poolside. Most pools I've visited recently, both indoor and outdoor have signs up stating cameras are not allowed.

As for taking photo's of people in public places, the fact that it is a public place in effect gives you the OK to take photgraphs but it is manners to delete a photo of someone if they tell you they object to you taking their photo.

Private places that are open to the public like shopping centres are a different matter. In many instances, you need permission from the building owners / management to take photo's and will often find the security team questioning what you are doing as soon as the camera is seen. I was shooting my local shopping centre and was told by the security I needed permission. I went to the management office whoo told me what I couldn't take photo's of and when I agreed to their conditions and also agreed to show them my shots if they thought I was breaking the rules they gave me the go ahead.

It mostly boils down to common sense. If you saw someone else doing what you intend to do and you thought it looked dodgy then steer clear.
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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #10
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

I was wondering about this too, havn't really summoned up the b*lls to shoot (sic) people around my town; when I go to other countries etc its fine, but where I live people just aren't that friendly.

funny how cctv takes pictures of them 24/7, and they don't mind that, but an SLR with a polariser on it and ooooooh they feel threatened.
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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #11
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

Originally Posted by sameerb
It all depend which public places you are shooting.
like pools, gym , hotels they are big no no.

Where as park, stadiums, streets are safer options.
Don't forget Vegas Caninos. Start taking some candids in those snd you WILL lose your equipment (regardless of how expensive) on the least temproarily and possibly for good.
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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #12
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

A few references for you. I think one has already been provided:

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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #13
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

Great links, I'll be printing and keeping in my camera bag for hand reference.
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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #14
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

I was recently at a carnival and photographed most everything that I saw. Actually seemed that most people encouraged me to photo them or their children. Every single teen wanted their picture taken. There was one little girl playing a game that I photographed. I asked her mother if it was OK if I submitted the picture to the local newspaper. Her response was yes; of course I handed her one of my cards.
I think that if you are in a situation where you have to stop and think if it is ok, then it probably isn't ok. Think morals also.
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Old 4th of August 2006 (Fri)   #15
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Default Re: Taking photos of general public

It also helps if you offer a card BEFORE you snap. Here are a couple of more:

Also April issue of Popular Photography had an article about how to approach strangers... Can't find a link to it...

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