January 17, 2007

Take photos, not a beating

Will snapping a photo get you popped in the nose, legally or literally? The latter’s a good bet in a biker bar, but what guidance exists for other situations–especially in a climate of heightened security? "Since I’ve heard various people ask (or debate) these questions from time to time," writes Photoshop engineer Russell Williams, "here are some references you might find useful:"

And engineer Dave Polaschek adds, "There’s also The Photographer’s Right,
which is a single sheet that you can toss into your camera bag for reference
should you happen to get harassed by private security or cops when legally
taking pictures."

[Update: See additional good links in the comments below.]

Posted by John Nack at 5:08 PM on January 17, 2007


  • BWJones — 6:12 PM on January 17, 2007

    Hrmmm, this is all well and good unless it is the police that are doing the harassing. I never really had a problem or thought it was a problem until a couple of years ago when a sheriff demanded that I turn over my camera.
    [What a terrific sense of priorities! Ft. Lauderdale must feel safer than Ft. Knox. –J.]

  • uncle wilco — 4:37 AM on January 18, 2007

    Good list, but heres one for the UK Photographers out there

  • Simon Moran — 4:39 AM on January 18, 2007

    Nice post John. I link to the UK Photographers Rights PDF which might be of interest to those shooting in the UK.
    UK Photographers Rights PDF
    [Solid–thanks, Simon. –J.]

  • Stan Rowin — 7:34 AM on January 18, 2007

    Updated information on using releases, both model and property releases is available at:
    There are also some interesting FAQs and horror stories there as well.
    [Cool; thanks for the link, Stan. –J.]

  • Steven Erat — 8:26 AM on January 18, 2007

    I had a ridiculously outrageous experience when I received a notification of immediate legal action unless I remove a photo from my website, allegedly from the owner of a property shown in a photo.
    In the photo of a beach scene taken from the road, a house stood out prominently. Viewers somehow deduced the location of the house and some even researched the owner’s contact information, all without any clues from me.
    The owner claimed to have been contacted on numerous occassions with regard to renting the beach house.
    The dynamically selected Google Ads shown on the photo page usually showed adverts for local real estate agencies, so viewers must have assumed that I was advertising the particular beach house to be for rent.
    When contacted, I thought the “owner’s” threat was absurd, so I stood my ground and replied to him with a link to Burt Krage’s “Photographer’s Rights”.
    That was that.

  • Joe Seliong — 8:24 AM on January 19, 2007

    Thanks for the links. I once started snapping photographs outside the London Stock Exchange when the security guards rushed out and demanded that I stop taking photographs of the building, or risk persecution. After reading up on it, I suppose they didn’t have the right to stop me from taking photographs as I was standing on public property!
    [You never know. Over here that kind of thing might earn a photographer a free, all-expenses-paid trip to sunny Cuba (return not guaranteed). –J.]

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