Your Rights As a Photographer.
Your Rights as a Photographer.
We've all seen it, and most of us have been there. As a Photographer, what exactly do you have for rights? What can you shoot, what can you not shoot, and where should your ethics come into play?
Certainly, everyone has their own standards of what should be published, and what shouldn't be published- and a lot of that has to do with circumstance. There are, though, quite a few circumstances that overrule morality, and cross straight into legality. We'll run through a few scenarios, and talk about each one. Although, first, I'll run through a quick mental checklist that I keep re: Photographs of people.
- Have I asked the subject if it's OK to photograph them, let alone publish a photo of them?
This is a pretty large deal, and while it doesn't necessarily reflect on the legality of publishing a photo of the subject, it lends credibility to yourself, and other photographers. No one likes a photo of them being taken when they don't want a photo of them being taken. Most people, upon being asked, are suddenly OK with having their picture taken, and will flash a smile your way. Common courtesy and asking permission goes a long way.
- Does this photograph cast the subject in a positive light?
Even if the person was impossible to ask permission of, most people don't mind a photo of them being used, even for something like facebook, as long as they are being cast in a positive light. I have a golden rule when it comes to photographing people, especially people in questionable circumstances-- Do unto others as they want you to, not as you would have them do unto you. Everyone has different feelings on how they want to be represented, and perhaps how you want to be represented is not how your subject would like to be represented. You, the photographer, might not mind being photographed with underwear on your head, but the person in question might not. Remember, you're a photographer, not a drunk 16 y/o girl with a camera that thinks it's funny to capture people at their worst.
The Legal Stuff.
Alright, we're gonna get down to the nitty-gritty legal stuffs. I'm not a lawyer, nor did I play one on TV or stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. However, I've studied up on the legal aspects of Photography to be able to save my own butt, and get the most out of my passion. So, onward!-
Basically, if you can see it from a public space, you can shoot it. What does this mean? This means that if you're say, on a sidewalk and see a fountain in someone's yard, a sign on someone's fence, or a cute dog in a yard, you can take a picture of it.
This ALSO means that in malls, parks, etc- perhaps a place that is technically PRIVATE property, but open to the public, you may take photos unless specifically prohibited by signage or personnel.
If you ARE on Private property, and you are asked to not take pictures, you must oblige the request. This isn't to say that you must delete all photos on your camera that you shot before being told not to, but to use those photos would perhaps not be in your best judgement.
People. People are perhaps the biggest area of contention when it comes to photographing in public. Where is the line drawn? Well, if someone is in a public space, and hasn't secluded themselves to expect a reasonable amount of privacy, then they are fair game. Children eating ice cream, holding balloons at the fair?- Totally fair game. However, a couple that have wandered off to some sand dunes at the beach to cuddle and watch the sunset, or a person entering their PIN at an ATM?- Perhaps you should ask permission before shooting, or not shoot at all.
Contrary to many myths surrounding Photography, especially street photography, These things are ALWAYS open to being shot, as long as the above rules have been observed.
Law Enforcement Officers, Public Utilities, Residential and Commercial Buildings, Transportation Facilities (Bus stations, bus stops, Subway Stations, Airports, etc.), Bridges and other infrastructure, Criminal Activities, Accident and Fire Scenes, Children, and anything else one might see.
Special care must be taken when shooting Law Enforcement Officers, as they may (will) try and intimidate you, and tell you what you are doing is wrong. They may even try to take you to jail or force you to stop shooting by saying that you are Interfering with their job. However, if you are a reasonable distance away, they should not mind being photographed unless they have anything to hide.
If you ARE challenged by Security or Law Enforcement, you do NOT need to explain why you are taking photos, what you are taking photos of, and unless it is a Police Officer, you do not need to disclose your identity.
REMEMBER!!!! --- If someone tries to confiscate your camera or film/memory cards, DO NOT give it to them!!! If they try to force or threaten you into giving it to them, they will be liable for theft or coercion! Even Law Enforcement Officers need a court order to confiscate ANYTHING.
-A Downloadable Flyer Explaining Your Rights When Stopped or Confronted for Photography-
- In the UK, things are done a bit differently, but the majority of the rules are the same. To check out the UK rules, Visit this site.-
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