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RE: filmscanners: OT: photographing on the street
>I wonder if asking for a release could create additional problems;
Yes; but you could say that the additional problems are the cost of doing
the business of street photography. There is no free lunch.
>once someone has refused to sign you have an explicit lack of consent for
>photograph to be used. Once you ask, might not you be more committed to
>ceding to the subject's wishes.
True; but shouldn't you out of shear sensitivity and respect for the wishes
of another human being. Unless you are a journalist and relying on the
public's right to know a newsworthy event, you do not have an absolute right
to use an individual's image for public display or sale once they have
explicitly denied you permission in some states and have knowingly opened
yourself up to the possibility of legal action which you just might lose.
Why would you want to do this unless you were a journalist and were
justifying it on not artistic grounds but on the newsworthiness of the
photograph. As an aside, some courts have found that, if the person's
image, even if identifiable, is merely incidental to the image and not the
central focus of it, a release may not be necessary and the plaintiff may
not have any standing in an invasion of privacy suit - especially if they
were in a public place and in public view - even if the image was sold
>In any event, unless someone does relatively static 'street portraits' I
>have a hard time imagining a way of even approaching most subjects of a
Of course that depends on what type of street subjects you shoot. I have
found that many of the street scenes that I have shot do not comprise down
and dirty grab shots of scurrying people but of people who are relaxed or,
at least, are staying put for a while and where I even had time to consider
different camera angles or to change lenses. If you do mostly street
photographs of dynamic street scenes and people on the run, I would imagine
that you would have to be somewhat brazen and bold to engage primarily in
that type of street photography to begin with so you should be bold and
brazen enough to go up to people and ask for permissions even if it means
interrupting a conversation of stopping them on the street.
>There are times when such photographs include a number of unrelated
>people moving off in all directions
Two key questions you need to ask yourself in determining if you
pragmatically should or really need to go after releases are: are the people
recognizable and are they central or incidental to the image. If they are
unrecognizable or are incidental to the image, commonsense would tell you
that the odds of being sued and of losing are low so it might not be
necessary to obtain permissions as well as impractical to do so. However,
if the people are clearly recognizable and central to the image, then you
had better give serious consideration to obtaining releases if you intend to
publicly display or sell the image or you should forget about taking the
shot even if it is a key photographic moment.
>It would seem that having to get releases would just
>make classic street photography impossible, so if you are committed to
>do this type of work you have to take your chances.
Not impossible, just more difficult. Obviously, no matter what you do, you
have to evaluate the odds and then take your chances; nothing is 100% safe
or certain. The name of the game is to minimize your exposure as much and
as often as possible.
>Does anyone know a case where there has been a successful suit against a
>published or exhibited street photograher on privacy grounds?
Yes, there have been a number of them; check the links that I gave earlier.
>Rudolph Giuliani of NY, nor famous for his love of free
>expressions but a himself a shutterbug, once was quoted that there is a
>right to photograph anyone one wants in public places.
That is more true of New York State than it is for some other states in
terms of the nature of their various privacy and privacy related statutes
and in terms of their court decisions and opinions. Moreover, as I noted
elsewhere, it all turns on what the courts define as public places. But he
is absolutely right in the US, you have a right to photograph anyone in
public places, you just may not have a right to display, publish, or use the
resulting image anyway or anywhere that you want.
[mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of John Matturri
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2001 9:06 AM
Subject: Re: filmscanners: OT: photographing on the street
I wonder if asking for a release could create additional problems; once
someone has refused to sign you have an explicit lack of consent for the
photograph to be used. Once you ask, might not you be more committed to
ceding to the subject's wishes.
In any event, unless someone does relatively static 'street portraits' I
have a hard time imagining a way of even approaching most subjects of a
streetphoto: do you run after a passerby or interupt their conversation?
There are times when such photographs include a number of unrelated
people moving off in all directions; do you hire crews to run after then
with explanations? It would seem that having to get releases would just
make classic street photography impossible, so if you are committed to
do this type of work you have to take your chances.
Does anyone know a case where there has been a successful suit against a
published or exhibited streetphotograher on privacy grounds? For what
it's worth even Rudolph Giuliani of NY, nor famous for his love of free
expressions but a himself a shutterbug, once was quoted that there is a
right to photograph anyone one wants in public places.