BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
M D. Lord
 

Taking Photos of People in Everyday Life


I have been reading some of the Q&A in the newsletters over the last month or so and I have a question myself. I like to just take photos of people in everyday life, doing their normal thing either from a distance or otherwise (I hate posing shots), and I also do this to play and experiment with my camera.
Does this mean that I'm not allowed to publish any of my pics, or can I get away with it if there is scenery in the background or foreground? For instance, I have a pic I love with a couple playing with their dog on the beach, and have the dog suspended in the air... lovely. Sometimes people see me taking the pictures other times they don't. Can I assume if they do see me and say nothing it is OK for me to add to my collection and put on, say, my Web site?


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8/30/2006 3:19:59 AM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  M. D.,

This question is probably better answered by Mark F.; but, if I understand the laws correctly, if the person is recognizable, you will need a model release. Sure, you own the picture and the copyrights to it; but, without the people's consent you legally can't publish it. Please correct me if I am wrong Mark.
There are numerous threads on here about just this sort of thing and I have even asked a couple of questions here about model and property releases myself.
Also, I don't think it is safe to assume anything when there is the possibility of any type of litigation. People can be very picky. It is better, in my opinion, to be safe and take the extra step of getting a model/property release rather than be sorry later.
Hope this helps, and maybe Mark will chime in.


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8/30/2006 10:04:00 AM

 
M D. Lord   thanks todd for the feed back and advice, I had a feeling that the 1000's of pic I have will not be able to be published then, and will have to keep them in my private collection unfortunatly. How do news papers get away with taking pics of people unaware, in war, famine, crime, and survalance..

seems silly if I capture someone doing something strange, out of ordinary, or just looks good, sitting r4eading in the park with the right light, and senery, or people playing with their dog on the beach.. what do I do, walk upto them with a pen and paper, tell them I just took your pic, messing arround, can I publish it?> and can you just right it down and sign it here?... not to worry, back to animals and senery then :-(

just a thought.. would this only be US Law, or world wide?


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8/31/2006 1:43:02 AM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  As I said, Mark F. is way more of an authority on this issue. I'm surprised he hasn't chimed in. There is something in the laws about it being newsworthy or educational that allows newspapers to print their shots.

I carry 10 or so model and 10 or so property releases with me in the event I need them. I have not had the chance to use either since most of my stuff is nature and I usually try to take shots without people in them.

Click on Community and The Forum and under the Photography Q&A do a search for "release." I came up with at least 10 pages of 30 questions on this very subject. There should be some better explainations in some of them.


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8/31/2006 5:59:22 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Sorry, guys. I've been kinda busy photographing people in their everyday life (and getting signed releases for publication) Honest...
Soooooooooooo, Todd, you've got it exactly right. M.L., you seem to have part of the drill down already. You can go up to people before or after you photograph them. My preference is to do it before and I almost never, ever, photograph people from a distance of more than 10-15 feet. I want them to know I'm there but usually ask them to just ignore me. (Comes with the territory actually).
I'm a photojournalist, not a spy, not doing surveillance work, not a private investigator.
If you publish an image taken of someone in the U.S. and the images aren't made for a legitimate news publication and newsworthy under the "public right to know" standard, then you need a release. Period. That exception, by the way, is being eroded by numerous court decisions in many states. As a news photographer, my editors prefer that if it's at all possible, I get a release. There are also public figure exceptions to the release law. But it doesn't sound like any of the exceptions apply to what you want to do.
And... if you offer images for stock, they need to be released. Read stock contracts carefully regarding indemnification of your agency for losses in the event they get sued for having your work published. Most legitimate agencies I know of have language in their contracts to the effect that the photographer, by submitting work to them for sale and eventual publication, represents that he or she has a valid signed release from the subject.
The bottom line is yes, if the person is recognizable, get a release or don't publish electronically or in print or display in public or offer for sale. And... BTW, getting a release allows you to meet the person you're photographing. That, in turn, often makes for more interesting images. Nice touch, eh?
Take it light ;>)
Mark


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8/31/2006 10:45:58 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  I shoot some before and then ask them if I could shoot them, then I have the natural shots with the shots that they know about.


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8/31/2006 11:57:51 AM

 
Rebecca A. Steed
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/6/2005
  I work for a small community weekly newspaper, so when I'm on the job covering an assignment, I have my name tag and I usually shoot first then tell the person why I took the picture (publication of the newspaper) then get their name. However, when I am on my own and shooting pictures for myself and my portfolio, I almost always ask first, unless is a moment that would absolutely be ruined by my interruption. Then I will take the picture, show it to the person on my digital camera what I just took, tell them why, and ask their permission. If they are uncomfortable with it and don't consent, I delete it right in front of them. I've taken a class on approaching people for photographs and learned about model releases. Usually, if you approach people with a smiling, uninhibiting face and tell them honestly why you want to take their picture (I'm expanding my people portfolio, the old man jogging at daybreak "you are an inspiration and I think this would make a great story-telling photograph", etc.). Then you provide them a model release. Also, if you offer to - and follow through - to send them a printed copy of the photo, or e-mail it to them, people are a lot more willing to cooperate. If you are just going around secretly photographing people, it creeps them out. One of the hardest thing for many photographers is getting over their fear of approaching people. I think, due to my job, I don't have a problem with this, but once you get over that, you will see a great opportunity open up.


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9/1/2006 4:37:37 AM

 
Barbara Wenneberg   Also, while getting the release the person might want to buy some of the pictures you shoot. You might want to keep a standard price list with you too. Or, at least, your business card so they know where to contact you.


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9/5/2006 7:43:41 AM

 
Rebecca A. Steed
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/6/2005
  barbara has a good point. always have several business cards with you. I would still give them an 8x10 of the photo you took of them for free, since you approach them and they didn't ask to have their photo taken. However, this is a great way to begin a reputation by 'word of mouth.'


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9/5/2006 10:12:34 AM

 
Erika  Haight
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/5/2007
  Question.. I took some photographs at the park where my son plays football. I was sitting having a conversation with one of the mothers there and took pictures of her daughter and neice. I offered to bring her some photographs ... she replied thank you. I didnt have her sign a release form... Do I need one if she allowed me to photograph them???


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8/8/2008 6:15:57 PM

 
Barbara Wenneberg   No you CANNOT sell any the pictures if there is a recognizable person in them. You HAVE to have their permission in a model release to sell the picture. That is the law. You CAN sell the picture if the picture is ONLY showing the backs of people but NOT their faces.


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8/9/2008 7:45:06 AM

 
  This is not a lawyer forum, why ask a photographer. Different states, different laws, changing all the time. If Obama had only two flight lessons (inexperience) and asked you to fly with him would you say no. What if he told you he had spoken to many pilots and felt confident he could pull it off, would you go with him. If yes, then don't forget your parachute.


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8/10/2008 12:26:48 PM

 
Barbara Wenneberg   John Brenner - you HAVE TO know the laws for photography to be a photographer. So I take offense by what you said. No we are NOT lawyers but we are NOT stupid and WE DO know what we are talking about.


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8/10/2008 5:30:00 PM

 
Sarah G   You can not even put it up on this site without that model release signed. Verbal is NOT enough.

Yes, the lady may have given you permission to photograph the kids, but that is different than being giving permission to publish them in a book, use the images as stock or put the images up in a public forum like BP, etc. Those types of uses MUST be in writing.


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8/10/2008 6:58:02 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  derek alert.
M.


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8/10/2008 11:06:30 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  info from all directions.


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8/11/2008 12:10:47 AM

 
Sarah G   Oh Bother. I know, it was stupid of me to make any comment at all.


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8/11/2008 5:47:28 AM

 
Barbara Wenneberg   Always speak your mind or don't complain about what you hear, see or what is being done.


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8/11/2008 5:51:51 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  And question authority ;>) Especially if it's derek. LOL ~~!
M.


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8/11/2008 9:57:18 AM

 
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