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Monday, 28 January 2013

Is Photographing in Public Illegal?


Taking photographs in public places such as Time Square; or at crowded public events like a parade that is being held for a special occasion. It's sometimes difficult to exclude people in your photos that are in such crowded areas, as you're shooting. And if someone notices that you're taking pictures in their general direction; they might ask of you not to include them in your photographs. Those requests are sometimes unreasonable because you might only get that one good shot. If it's possible to compose another shot; you may consider not using that photograph that particular person might be in.
Then on the other hand; sometimes you get that obnoxious person who starts threatening you with bodily harm or even intimidating you with a law suit, if you use the photographs he's in. And then I say screw them; because it's not illegal to take pictures of people in public; as long as you take the photographs from a public area. Every now and then you might even get the occasional camera ham; that will let you photograph them all day long. But remember these are public photographs and you can only use them as such. You cannot sell a persons' image to anybody without that persons consent; because doing that is illegal. But you can still use the Mr. Obnoxious photos all day long; but only if the photos are being used in public content.
When taking photographs in a public area; as a professional, you should have some kind of idea on what type of theme you're trying to compose for a particular photograph. Just maybe you might get there before it gets crowded to get your shots. I photographed an old car rally and I requested a little space from the onlookers; while taking some of my shots. There were people who moved back, some stood where I had no choice but to include them in the shots. Those photos I had to crop and Photoshop, spending extra time to remove bystanders before I could sell them. As far as the other photographs of the rally with bystanders in them, I use those photos in articles. If those people didn't want their photograph taken, they shouldn't have been there when I was shooting.
When I'm out and about with my camera and I see someone with a unique hair style; or some other attribute that would make a good photograph that I could use. I always ask permission to photograph that person and try to get him or her to sign a model release; maybe even give them a few bucks to seal the deal. I was taking photographs of a lake side walkway and a couple came walking by; and the young lady wanted me to photograph her and the boyfriend. I have several photos of them I can use and I emailed them some free picture files.
Photographing in public doesn't have to have the feeling of going to the dentist. Try to be considerate to people out in public while taking pictures; and they just may show you the same consideration. Don't act so dark and sinister as you're shooting; just don't photograph somebody because you want their picture, that's just creepy. When I take pictures in public and I photograph someone whose image is unique for that shot, I take the time to show them and ask permission to use it. And later on when they might need a photographer for an important upcoming event in their life, most likely they will give you first crack.
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