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Street Photography and law

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Poki, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    As I want to broaden my photographic experience this year I read a lot about street photography and law in Austria. Well, basically it says as long as somebody's face is on a photo, you'll have to get a written permission of the person before you take the shot, otherwise you break the law - which can bring you a warning and up to some thousand euros penalty. But hey, when you see a interesting scene you can't really go in, ask them to sign a permission and then continue what they did to get the shot ... So maybe someone in Austria or Germany (pretty identical law) shoots street photography and can tell me how to deal with this not so photography-friendly law? Or does someone else have an idea? Thanks!
  2. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ

    This is primarily intended for commercial uses. Those selling their photos/videos should recompense/acknowledge those in their work. If you are just sharing on facebook or on-line forums I don't think it matters much.

    However it is still the law. If you feel more comfortable, then there is nothing wrong with getting permission.

    With that goes the idea of sneaking a photo. I have had no issues taking pictures of strangers if I simply say "Smile." I general don't try and take sneaky pictures.
  3. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    This is an interesting subject... verbal permission used to be enough in the early days, but now in the internet era, simply posting an image online creates a level of public exposure almost if not greater than having that image published. Privacy has become a big issue. I can understand why the law is there.

    But this can be a dilemma for those of us that take re-creational photos in public. Here's what I'm aware of (might be different in your area).

    As I understand it, taking a photo of a public figure is ok (actors, dancers, performers, athletes, politicians, etc) but only while they are in the context of a public event. If we photograph a crowd in general in a public place, with no one standing out in particular - it should be OK. However, if a stranger is the main subject especially in close-up or telephoto compositions, it pays to get permission - even after the photo had already been taken (but preferably before). Of course we need to be prepared to delete the photo in front of them should permission be denied. Taking photos inside a private area (even from a public stand point) is a very different matter altogether and may incur penalties depending on various local laws.

    Signing is a problem area as well. The signature is only as good as the document it's written on. A disclaimer or model release form is less intimidating if it is written with as much ordinary language as possible (avoid legal terms), but must first be checked and approved by a lawyer well versed in these matters - otherwise the signature may be invalid. In some instances, a signature of release only applies to the person giving permission, but heirs/relatives/clans/tribes may still be able to lay claim to certain rights of ownership as facial features may have direct genealogical implications on them. This may have to be addressed in the document. Even if the subject is happy and willing to have their face photographed, it still pays to acquire permission correctly.

    The key in all of this is respect. If everything is done respectfully (including the theme of the photo composition itself), then seeking approval shouldn't be a hassle. A compliment or a commendation might even come our way.
  4. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Thanks for your answers! I think you're right, Dioptrick, although I won't go out and seek for written permissions. I personally think a verbal permission has to be enough at least to take the photo, and if someone poses especially for this shot, I don't think anybody could tell they didn't want to be photographed. However, I'll have to be careful to not get a warning. I just trust my luck that I belong to the 90% who just have to delete the picture online and don't have to pay any penalty.
  5. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    This is a very interesting, sometimes you have to be a bit more discreet when doing street photography of people, many of them may be offended because they do not know for what purposes can be used,as the mate said to all done with great respect
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