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Photography DiscussionIs Street Photography Legal?

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St3v3M
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Is Street Photography Legal?

Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:20 am

Is Street Photography Legal?
"Since the birth of street photography, there has been a clash between the photographers prowling the streets trying to capture the lives of ordinary people to turn them into works of art, and the subjects of those photos who feel violated by the unauthorized use of their likeness."

In short -
Photographers Rights
"Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply."

There may be exceptions -
Photography and the law
United States
"Public property
It is legal to photograph or videotape anything and anyone on any public property, within reasonable community standards.[39]
Photographing or videotaping a tourist attraction, whether publicly or privately owned, is generally considered legal, unless explicitly prohibited by a specific law or statute. Some museums do not allow photography.

There are additional rights if you plan to commercialize the image and the person can be recognized, but that's for another post.

What are your thoughts and have you ever encountered the problems of 'privacy?' S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

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Post by Duck » Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:47 am

I've only had one situation while photographing on the street that could have been a problem. I wrote about it, and some information on the legality of such, in a post; Street photography laws and etiquette.
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Post by Graham Smith » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:20 pm

I have taken many thousands of photographs on the street and have only once encountered significant objection. This was in Trafalgar Square, London. I suspect my subject was up to something illegal, perhaps working illegally.

He demanded that I delete the picture which I politely refused to do, I also informed that what I was doing was legal but he continued with his demands and threats. He said he would call the police, I encouraged him to do so and sat down and told him that I would give him five minutes to call the police or to walk away and leave me alone otherwise I would call the police myself. He walked away, I don't think he wanted any dealings with them.

Here in the UK we have a right to pursue photography on the street providing that we don't use a recognisable image of a person for commercial gain or publish it in a way that defames the person.

No one has any right to demand that you delete an image (in the UK), not even a police officer. It would be a civil court matter rather than a criminal court, the person would have to sue you to get an image deleted.

The only way the police would get involved is if there was a breach of the peace. This means that if I were confronted by an irate person I would, at first, try to mollify them. If that didn't work I would walk away. Then if they tried to prevent me, by physical obstruction, from leaving I would call the police.

The police here are aware, after a couple of well publicised court cases a few years back, of the right to take pictures of people and objects on the street. Being a national force there is a uniformity of legislation and enforcement.

It is legal in this country to photograph children without the parents permission... but it would be a foolish person that did in today's climate of paranoia. You can also photograph police offices despite what some say.

Anything you can see from a public place is fair game including Government buildings etc. There are some restrictions around some military establishment, but not all.
Graham

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Post by Charles Haacker » Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:13 pm

Duck wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:47 am
I've only had one situation while photographing on the street that could have been a problem. I wrote about it, and some information on the legality of such, in a post; Street photography laws and etiquette.
I read your posts and replies, Duck. Graham, I hear ya. But I don't "do" street, and both of you have touched on precisely why. As a shy person, a non-confrontational person, there is no way on Earth I am going to deliberately get myself into the situations described. Legality, schmegality. I am already missing too many teeth. :D This is absolutely not to suggest you or anyone else shouldn't do it. Graham, you know from my long-time comments how much I respect and enjoy your talent for catching that supreme moment. I like to look at good street. Sometimes it makes me sad, other times happy, sometimes hilarious, but no matter how well done I could never do it. I got thinking, well, why not? And I think it is because I actually do think it is an invasion of someone else's privacy! Duck, in the case of the young woman who challenged you, I would not have argued with her. Right or wrong, I (jus' me) would have deleted the frame (and you said you could pull the card and recover it later if it was worth it). Graham, your guy could have been an armed lawbreaker with no scruples about doing his deleting himself (yes, it would have been unwise of him but still...). Anyhoo, you folks who have the talent and guts, go for it! Me, I'll be here in the wings out of range of the tomatoes. ;)
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Post by minniev » Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:40 pm

Like Graham, I have photographed many people in public places in the US and abroad. Some were taken with prior permission, some without. Sometimes I've shown and even given the pictures to the subjects by email or in person. I've photographed elderly and children, homeless and wealthy, natives and tourists. When photographing cultural groups I don't know well enough, I ask questions and get advice from them. Only once have I had anyone say anything negative to me about what I do, and as it turned out, I had taken no photos of the person at all, hadn't even seen her till she jumped up in my face threatening to call the police (she didn't). When realized she wasn't exactly cooking on all four burners, I just ignored her, and she soon went wandering down the street talking to people who weren't visible to others.

I don't have any reservations about continuing to do what I do, unless the laws change. Like Chuck, I am rather shy, but for me the fun of street photography outweighs the discomfort I sometimes feel from my own timidity. We all have to find our own way with it.

I was once castigated by another photographer for taking photos of a near-naked lady in New Orleans' famous French Quarter. She poses with tourists for $1 for pictures. If you try to snap a photo without putting your dollar in the hat, she'll deftly pop up an umbrella between you and her. The critic claimed I was abusing her as she must have been insane to do such a thing as she was doing. I've worked in mental health for eons and was quite sure she was sane. If one took the time to engage her, one would find her quite sane, a working gal with a night job she didn't have to pay taxes on, a clear business plan, a fearless nature and a sense of humor. Most of the people some folks are squeamish about photographing are, if you take them time to get to know them, just plain people, with their own stories, and I'm interested in capturing them. I don't feel like I'm abusing them but honoring their uniqueness.
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Post by Graham Smith » Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:45 pm

If you don't exercise your rights/liberties you'll soon find that they will be subject to the dreaded creeping erosion :)
Graham

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Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:14 pm

Duck wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:47 am
I've only had one situation while photographing on the street that could have been a problem. I wrote about it, and some information on the legality of such, in a post; Street photography laws and etiquette.
Wow, that's a wonderful post everyone should read! S-
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Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:17 pm

Graham Smith wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:20 pm
I have taken many thousands of photographs on the street and have only once encountered significant objection. This was in Trafalgar Square, London. I suspect my subject was up to something illegal, perhaps working illegally.
...
This is an amazing story of courage, I know as I've been in the same situation with someone yelling at you and everyone looking your way. That you spoke calmly and sat down was one thing, but to offer to call the police is the best! Thank you! S-
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Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:22 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:13 pm
I read your posts and replies, Duck. Graham, I hear ya. But I don't "do" street, and both of you have touched on precisely why. As a shy person, a non-confrontational person, there is no way on Earth I am going to deliberately get myself into the situations described. Legality, schmegality. ...
As a shy introvert, I completely understand, but there are those beautiful moments we come across that simply demand an image and it's best to our rights as we travel through this world. People are good, you just have to let them know you are too! S-
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Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:25 pm

minniev wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:40 pm
..., if you take them time to get to know them, just plain people, with their own stories, and I'm interested in capturing them. I don't feel like I'm abusing them but honoring their uniqueness.
Well said! S-
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