Street Photography In Danger

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eire1274
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The question arises, something I, as an independent photographer, have had to deal with, on publishing images that contain faces of people who have not advertised their permission to have their image. Now, this may seem simple, like "don't go and take pictures of people randomly as you're walking around," and there is truth there in that street photography is largely learning how to be polite while walking around with a big camera. But it gets complex, too.

We live in a world where EVERYTHING is a camera. There are the big boys like what I carry, pocket cameras, micro cameras, hat cameras, heck, 99% of the cell phones on the market these days sports a fairly powerful camera package. And the web is FLOODED with images from these devices. This must be where this whole thing is coming from, with the tremendous amount of "drunk punishment" (abuse the first person to pass out at a party, take pics, and post online) and other fads this digital age has managed to create.

A short form bill was proposed to the Vermont House of Representatives by Representative Betty Nuovo, saying in part: "This bill proposes to make it illegal to take a photograph of a person without his or her consent, or to modify a photograph of a person without his or her consent, and to distribute it."

How would that affect me? Well, one of the things I like to do is take kids and parents to the playground, and take pictures of them there. Or shoot portraits on the street in unusual crowded places. The catch is to show REAL LIFE, which is largely described by the crush of people SURROUNDING my subjects. But if laws were formed around such bills as was proposed out East that applied to me, this would be, entirely, undeniably illegal. Photos would have to be done in empty places, or in the studio, and this totally changes what the photographer can do.

I find this to be the typical fashion of "somebody did something BAD when they did this, so take it away from everybody" that seems to be surrounding so many lawmakers these days.

I have had people scream at me, attempt to grab my camera (good luck, it is strapped to me), stand in front of the lens... I had one lady say she was going to sue me, so I handed her a business card (no lawsuit ever showed up), and another who called the police (who, sadly, asked me to leave, despite the fact that I had paying clients present; I filed a complaint on that one). But these are the people who are driving this attitude.

Any thoughts? There are laws in place in every nation which describe the rights of the photographer and the press (sometimes the same thing), but it seems more and more likely that the lady snapping pics with her cell phone is less likely to be punished than someone like me with a large DSLR. I'm hoping we aren't seeing an end to this these days.

Nick McDermott

Manic Mouse
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I can see both sides of that argument.

When you think about it, professional models are paid by the royalties they earn when photographers take their pictures, sell it to various clients and those clients in turn publish them for public view. It is all prearranged and contractual. I am quite sure some of those models would get upset if you are randomly taking pictures of them without their consent.

The flip side of that argument is the lowly paparazzi who makes his living by taking candid shots of celebrities, then sells them to various media. Now the celebs get rather pissed when these pictures are published by these media types without payment or permission. And have been known on occasion to win lawsuits if they really want to follow through with their lawyers (though most don't and use the noise as publicity).

Thing is it depends on the subject. The subject is within their rights to demand payment from you if you publish their likeness. It would be a tough fight that only the lawyers end up as the real winners. It all depends on the privacy laws where you are taking your pictures.

Whenever I am out with my D7000, I make a point of not taking pictures of anyone who objects to me doing so - even if I know them. But then I usually don't use people for my subjects. I stick to nature and static subjects.

Mark Baker

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eire1274
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Manic Mouse wrote: The flip side of that argument is the lowly paparazzi who makes his living by taking candid shots of celebrities, then sells them to various media. Now the celebs get rather pissed when these pictures are published by these media types without payment or permission. And have been known on occasion to win lawsuits if they really want to follow through with their lawyers (though most don't and use the noise as publicity).

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True, celebs can be a mixed bunch. I was shooting Brandon Routh this last Saturday (he was at a Free Comic Book Day event and supporting a Red Cross blood drive) along with another local TV personality, and no one said a word about my lens catching them.

Manic Mouse wrote: Thing is it depends on the subject. The subject is within their rights to demand payment from you if you publish their likeness. It would be a tough fight that only the lawyers end up as the real winners. It all depends on the privacy laws where you are taking your pictures.

Whenever I am out with my D7000, I make a point of not taking pictures of anyone who objects to me doing so - even if I know them. But then I usually don't use people for my subjects. I stick to nature and static subjects.

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Agreed. But it has gotten so aggressive these days that even when I'm using a telephoto, the general opinion is that I MUST be capturing everyone. Just simple minded narrowness expecting every bloke with a pro-grade camera to be a perv of some sort.

I make money on publishing pictures, true, but I'm not driving a Mercedes either. Any time people demand payment because they were a blurry background piece, I feel inclined to ask them to just stop reflecting light for a bit, so we won't have the problem!

Nick McDermott