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Photography DiscussionIs Street Photography Legal?

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St3v3M
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Re: Is Street Photography Legal?

Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:25 pm

Graham Smith wrote:
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 :)
Amen! S-
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Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:47 pm

While I don't do Street often I travel internationally and have had my fair share of encounters, luckily though I've been able to explain my intentions and get away with it. I've had encounters in Lagos Nigeria and encounters in Los Angeles, but one of the funniest was on some dirt road in the middle of farm country.

So here I am driving to the hotel when I see a beautiful silo on the side of the road. I continue on, find the next off-ramp, turn around and find my way on to the side road where I can stop and take it all in. There's no traffic but I pull off the road as far as I can, look around and start to take pictures when I hear a truck pulling up next to me. 'Whatcah' doin'?' Oh hello there, I was just taking a picture of this beautiful silo. 'Why?' Because it's beautiful. 'Did anyone say you could?' I'm from out of town and just thought I'd pull over. So he gets out of his truck. I'm not intimidated, but still, and says 'But did anyone say you could?' I look around again to make sure and say I'm on public property so I didn't think it would hurt. He steps close and says, 'Do you want a tour?'

I could have laughed at how I thought the situation was going compared to how it went, but after I caught up I asked if he owned it, to which he said no, but he knows them and was sure it would be fine so we drove up. It was a better shot from the road but what I learned most is people are good, you just have to let them know you are too! S-
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Post by Graham Smith » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:16 pm

St3v3M wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:47 pm
While I don't do Street often I travel internationally and have had my fair share of encounters, luckily though I've been able to explain my intentions and get away with it. I've had encounters in Lagos Nigeria and encounters in Los Angeles, but one of the funniest was on some dirt road in the middle of farm country.

So here I am driving to the hotel when I see a beautiful silo on the side of the road. I continue on, find the next off-ramp, turn around and find my way on to the side road where I can stop and take it all in. There's no traffic but I pull off the road as far as I can, look around and start to take pictures when I hear a truck pulling up next to me. 'Whatcah' doin'?' Oh hello there, I was just taking a picture of this beautiful silo. 'Why?' Because it's beautiful. 'Did anyone say you could?' I'm from out of town and just thought I'd pull over. So he gets out of his truck. I'm not intimidated, but still, and says 'But did anyone say you could?' I look around again to make sure and say I'm on public property so I didn't think it would hurt. He steps close and says, 'Do you want a tour?'

I could have laughed at how I thought the situation was going compared to how it went, but after I caught up I asked if he owned it, to which he said no, but he knows them and was sure it would be fine so we drove up. It was a better shot from the road but what I learned most is people are good, you just have to let them know you are too! S-

I always try to engage with people in such instances, be friendly, don't over apologise. By doing so you allow them to dominate the situation which could lead to escalation. Show an interest by asking about you subject and the locale. But never let them get between you and your planned escape route :lol:
Graham

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Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:17 pm

Graham Smith wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:16 pm
I always try to engage with people in such instances, be friendly, don't over apologise. By doing so you allow them to dominate the situation which could lead to escalation. Show an interest by asking about you subject and the locale. But never let them get between you and your planned escape route :lol:
Words of wisdom, but I have to say the last is the best! S-
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Post by Matt Quinn » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:44 pm

St3v3M wrote:
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-
I have had two experiences with street worthy of mention. The first was when our grandson was visiting Santa at a large mall; I was standing on the far side of the walkway using my long lens and focusing on Jimmy. A security guard approached and asked me to stop because some parents had called to complain. I told him what I was doing and offered to show him the photos. He declined but politely asked me to stop and then walked away. I stopped since I already had about a dozen and he didn't ask me to delete any. I am not sure whether an enclosed mall is private or public property and I don't know whether there was any policy on photography.

The second was earlier this week; I had been taking some woodland photos and had parked in a private school lot across from the park; the lot had no signs restricting parking. As I was getting back into my car, a woman, evidently a mother of one of the young children, approached and asked what I had been doing. I explained; she said that administrators at the school had noticed someone taking photos of the school the day before, had become concerned, and so, she felt impelled to inquire. I showed her the photos on the viewing screen and she seemed relieved.

So, I am "situational" in what I do in street: if I can take a photo of an individual where the face is not revealed, I just take it, as I did with the smoker. If the person is facing me, as was the sales girl in my mall photo, I will motion to the person with the camera and shoot only if I get an okay. If it is a crowd, as in my Times Square or You've Got Mail photos, I just take it because my intent is to capture the event, not the people, even though the people are central to the event.

Matt
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Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:49 pm

Matt Quinn wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:44 pm
... I am not sure whether an enclosed mall is private or public property and I don't know whether there was any policy on photography.
...
I was pretty sure I knew but thought to double-check. S-

- Public space
"Semi-public spaces
A broader meaning of public space or place includes also places where everybody can come if they pay, like a café, train, or movie theater. A shop is an example of what is intermediate between the two meanings: everybody can enter and look around without obligation to buy, but activities unrelated to the purpose of the shop are not unlimitedly permitted.

The halls and streets (including skyways) in a shopping center may be declared a public place and may be open when the shops are closed. Similarly for halls, railway platforms and waiting rooms of public transport; sometimes a travelling ticket is required. A public library is a public place. A rest stop or truck stop is a public space.

For these "semi-public" spaces stricter rules may apply than outside, e.g. regarding dress code, trading, begging, advertising, photography, propaganda, riding rollerskates, skateboards, a Segway, etc."
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Post by Matt Quinn » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:07 pm

St3v3M wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:49 pm
Matt Quinn wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:44 pm
... I am not sure whether an enclosed mall is private or public property and I don't know whether there was any policy on photography.
...
I was pretty sure I knew but thought to double-check. S-

- Public space
"Semi-public spaces
A broader meaning of public space or place includes also places where everybody can come if they pay, like a café, train, or movie theater. A shop is an example of what is intermediate between the two meanings: everybody can enter and look around without obligation to buy, but activities unrelated to the purpose of the shop are not unlimitedly permitted.

The halls and streets (including skyways) in a shopping center may be declared a public place and may be open when the shops are closed. Similarly for halls, railway platforms and waiting rooms of public transport; sometimes a travelling ticket is required. A public library is a public place. A rest stop or truck stop is a public space.

For these "semi-public" spaces stricter rules may apply than outside, e.g. regarding dress code, trading, begging, advertising, photography, propaganda, riding rollerskates, skateboards, a Segway, etc."
Many thanks. Makes me want to stay in the woods. Mat
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Post by St3v3M » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:11 pm

Matt Quinn wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:07 pm
Many thanks. Makes me want to stay in the woods. Mat
I'm right there with you! S-
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Post by Duck » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:46 pm

Matt Quinn wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:44 pm
[...] I am not sure whether an enclosed mall is private or public property and I don't know whether there was any policy on photography. [...]
St3v3M wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:49 pm
I was pretty sure I knew but thought to double-check. S-

- Public space[...]
I thought I'd elaborate on this topic of conversation;

A public space is different than a publicly accessible space. Public spaces are those areas that are commonly owned by the people. Municipal spaces like streets and sidewalks, public parks, open land areas are deemed owned by the public as they are paid for by taxes, though there may be additional access fees used for maintenance, etc. (but that's a different topic). Schools and public universities, military facilities and many government buildings, though considered public and paid for with taxes, operate under different regulations due to public safety and those laws supercede the public access to public areas standard.

Publicly accessible spaces are normally spaces designed for convenient access to different areas within a private facility. Office complexes and buildings, malls and shopping centers, churches, private universities, arenas, sporting facilities and amusement parks are some examples of publicly accessible private property. Rules governing photography vary from open to the public to restricted to specific areas to no cameras allowed.

Knowing the differences will go a long way to understanding when you can firmly stand your ground and when to walk away. If a security guard at a mall asks you to put the camera away you can challenge them, politely. Ask to see either a posted sign or some form of publicly posted restriction. Often a simple statement on their web site will satisfy that criteria. The burden of the law falls on the photographer to know the established regulations of the venue they are photographing in, not on the establishment for every instance of a photographic action.

Even if there are no publicly seen signs, printed regulations or any other indication that photography is not allowed, if a representative of an establishment asks you to stop while on their premises, you have to comply, like it or not. Even then, you can challenge it and request to talk to upper management and plead your case. It all depends on how important the situation is to you.

Taking photos of your child on Santa's lap while they have a photographer of their own is a tricky situation since it can, in theory, be considered theft of services and, if pressed, you could be taken to court (though that is highly unlikely).

Another similar situation that comes up way too often is the guy with a camera at a wedding who feels it's okay to shadow the hired pro and take the same shots. While it is not against the law, it is annoying. Since the event is considered to be a private event held at a venue considered to be a publicly accessible venue (often) a simple request to cease and desist should be enough to curtail the annoyance.
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Post by Matt Quinn » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:55 pm

Duck wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:46 pm
Matt Quinn wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:44 pm
[...] I am not sure whether an enclosed mall is private or public property and I don't know whether there was any policy on photography. [...]
St3v3M wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:49 pm
I was pretty sure I knew but thought to double-check. S-

- Public space[...]
I thought I'd elaborate on this topic of conversation;

A public space is different than a publicly accessible space. Public spaces are those areas that are commonly owned by the people. Municipal spaces like streets and sidewalks, public parks, open land areas are deemed owned by the public as they are paid for by taxes, though there may be additional access fees used for maintenance, etc. (but that's a different topic). Schools and public universities, military facilities and many government buildings, though considered public and paid for with taxes, operate under different regulations due to public safety and those laws supercede the public access to public areas standard.

Publicly accessible spaces are normally spaces designed for convenient access to different areas within a private facility. Office complexes and buildings, malls and shopping centers, churches, private universities, arenas, sporting facilities and amusement parks are some examples of publicly accessible private property. Rules governing photography vary from open to the public to restricted to specific areas to no cameras allowed.

Knowing the differences will go a long way to understanding when you can firmly stand your ground and when to walk away. If a security guard at a mall asks you to put the camera away you can challenge them, politely. Ask to see either a posted sign or some form of publicly posted restriction. Often a simple statement on their web site will satisfy that criteria. The burden of the law falls on the photographer to know the established regulations of the venue they are photographing in, not on the establishment for every instance of a photographic action.

Even if there are no publicly seen signs, printed regulations or any other indication that photography is not allowed, if a representative of an establishment asks you to stop while on their premises, you have to comply, like it or not. Even then, you can challenge it and request to talk to upper management and plead your case. It all depends on how important the situation is to you.

Taking photos of your child on Santa's lap while they have a photographer of their own is a tricky situation since it can, in theory, be considered theft of services and, if pressed, you could be taken to court (though that is highly unlikely).

Another similar situation that comes up way too often is the guy with a camera at a wedding who feels it's okay to shadow the hired pro and take the same shots. While it is not against the law, it is annoying. Since the event is considered to be a private event held at a venue considered to be a publicly accessible venue (often) a simple request to cease and desist should be enough to curtail the annoyance.
Duck,

You would make a wonderful, successful and wealthy lawyer; your sense of distinctions is admirably sharp and your explanations are easy to follow. I will have your phone number in my bag for any emergency call.

Matt
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"...approach the light as opposed to the subject." Stan Godwin

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