BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Lisa Russell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2007
 

Do I need a photo release of a known bridge?


First, I have taken a picture of a 'bridge' at a 'State Park and Resort'
area....will I need a photo release to sell this or other pictures taken there?
Second, I am interested in marketing pictures of this and others taken at other resorts....via post cards, matted and bagged prints, greeting cards...tourism type things....what lab can I use to get quality printed items and, third, is it customary to market back to these resorts personally or how should I approach this? Please, any input would be greatly appreciated.


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12/18/2007 2:12:36 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Bridges or any public structure like monuments in Washington, D.C., statues, public office buildings, etc., are all fair game and no release is required for the structures themselves. People, however, retain a right to privacy and for commercial purposes, if they're recognizable, require a release even in a public park.

As to your marketing program, you're essentially on your own with that one. Formulate a plan, try it and see if it works for you. Which lab? I always recommend Gammaphoto.com in Chicago or Mpix.com.
take it light.
Mark


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12/18/2007 6:56:17 PM

 
Lisa Russell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2007
  Thanks Mark...very appreciated!


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12/18/2007 8:25:49 PM

 
Jerry Frazier   Actually, it depends.

Here in SoCal, there's a pier that the city purchased, and they own it. It is private property and requires a release to photograph it. And, they are known for sueing. And, they have people all around watching for professional photographers who might be taking pictures. Photog's get kicked out of there all the time. So, you have to check with the authorities to find out if it's ok. I wouldn't just assume that it's ok to sell photographs of a bridge.


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12/19/2007 11:58:02 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Jer: Which pier what city and how and where do they provide notice of that? Lemme know because the next time I'm down there, I want to look into it and ask the city some questions. Thanks.
M.


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12/19/2007 12:01:57 PM

 
Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/2/2004
  They more likely require a permit. Pretty common with a lot of the beaches in southern cal for commercial photography. You can photograph anything without a release. Only when you intend to publish does the release come into play.

Ray


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12/19/2007 12:23:05 PM

 
Lisa Russell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2007
  This is probably a silly question, but when you speak of 'authorities', on what level are you meaning? And do I send them the form to sign or do they just send their own 'permission slip'?


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12/19/2007 1:27:37 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Well Lisa, different entities have different rules for commercial photography or video taping. The good news is that most of them won't bother trying to enforce them unless you're staging a major production. By that I mean a trailer, lots of equipment including light stands, light panels, etc., lights, assistants, models or "talent". Those are generally called "filming permits" available through the local film office. Chances are if they don't have a film office, it's unlikely that you need a permit.

In addition, I shoot down in Southern Calif. on regular occasions, often on beaches and after doing that fairly often for about 25 years, I have never once been asked for a permit by anyone including state beach/park cops, city cops or county deputies from San Luis Obisbo to Hermosa to Huntington, San Onofre, San Clemente, San Diego, Imperial, etc., etc. I've used tripods, some strobes, even an assistant holding a light panel or fill card once in awhile. Never had a problem. Got asked a question by BART cops one day shooting an ad in San Francisco but they just left us alone.

So, if you stay below the radar in large cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc., or if a cop inquires as to what you're doing, tell them you're taking a photograph for personal use. Period.

I can pretty much guarantee you that if you're photographing a public structure or bridge and don't bother searching to find out of you need a permit, that if you use it for commercial purposes the city would consider it good publicity and even if they noticed, wouldn't say or do anything unless you attempted to paint it in some kind of false light.

If for example, Washington D.C. required a shoot permit from every still photographer who took a picture of a public structure and then sold it for stock, the city would go bankrupt for clerk fees. In other words Lisa, don't get too involved in the academics of this discussion. My recommendation is shoot and enjoy and if a REAL cop, not a security cop on public property tells you to stop, question their authority and ask for ordinance numbers and be polite but firm.
Mark


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12/19/2007 2:05:32 PM

 
Lisa Russell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2007
  Thanks Mark, that sure does 'spell' it out clearly....
I shoot primarily for my enjoyment, but would like to make some money on the side whenever possible....I'm just not 'up' on the legality part of it. Thanks again!:)


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12/19/2007 2:50:29 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  My pleasure Lisa. The reason for shoot permits, I might add, is if you're actually running somewhat of a major production, the sort I mentioned, the permit helps pay the cost of municipal services you might need like cops directing traffic or keeping passersby out of your equipment lockers. It also helps demonstrate to the city that you have an insurance bond payable to the city in case one of your cast/crew gets injured on the shoot and, of course, at the same time generates a modicum of revenue for the city although not much since the permit fees are quite minimal usually. In fact, in San Francisco, unless you require some kind of traffic control like blocking off a street and the need for police, the film commish usually gives you a still permit once you show them proof of your bond.

I also recommend that you read up a bit on law for photographers. There are a number of generalized books that will help get you into the legal ball park including one by Bert Krages, another lawyer and the legal panel at ASMP.org.
Seasoned greetings !!
Mark


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12/19/2007 6:20:59 PM

 
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