Tips on shooting street scenes in US

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Tanto, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. Tanto macrumors member

    Tanto

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    Jun 1, 2010
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    USA
    #1
    I'm looking to take pictures in the city and was wondering what (if any) legal issues there may be. Do I need to get people's permissions in certain cases? Stuff like that is the only thing I don't want to mess up on. Any advice is welcome.
     
  2. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 1, 2008
    #2
    What city?

    In any case, you should probably be fine with most streets and buildings, so long as you're not trespassing. I don't think we're quite at UK levels of discouraging photogs. Harassing people with a telephoto is a no-no.
     
  3. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #3
    You need to get a model release if you want to sell a photo for commercial use, but it's not necessary for private or editorial uses.

    It's true that photographers are hassled a lot less in the US than in the UK, but the exception would be anything involving children. There have been recent cases of arrests of photographers who were taking pictures at public parks, playgrounds, and (in at least one case) of a city street when a school bus was passing by. So be very careful when children are around.
     
  4. joepunk macrumors 68030

    joepunk

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    #4
    Try shooting from the hip as the phrase goes that way some people won't look at you with that "You took a photo of me you creep" stare. However, if a street really is your intended subject and not pedestrians then you should be fine and not receive much if any stares.

    If you have the ability, preset your aperture and depth of field scales of the lens. That's what I do with my MF Nikon lenses on my digital body.
     
  5. ipodtoucher macrumors 68000

    ipodtoucher

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    #5
    No tripods on the sidewalk, if you can noticeably see less than 6 people then you need model releases. If you are shooting somewhere like here in DC you can't shoot federal buildings.
     
  6. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

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    #6
    Ya! I actually have done a few candids like that!!! Seriously, even with my 24-70 and hood, I plant that thing on my hip sometimes, preset and just snap people I see that are interesting. Sometimes the shot doesn't go, but most od the time it does. You really can shoot from the hip ahahah!
     
  7. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #7
    See less than six people? That makes absolutely no sense.

    Just be yourself when shooting. I have long since stopped doing completely candid stuff and when I do it now (which is unusual), I just approach people if I see something interesting.
     
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #8
    No, if you see so much as one person's finger in a photo, you need a model release for commercial use. Anything is fair game for editorial, though.
     
  9. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #9
    I have shot with tripod many times downtown (Portland), and never have been hassled once. Don't worry about it.
     
  10. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

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    #10
    I don't know where you get this info from but I was told by a lawyer in the US that any photo where the face is not visible (read from the back) or not recognizable (Bokeh :)), is ok for commercial use. You don't really think that those stock photographs of busy new york streets actually have those 300 release forms, do you? It would be impossible.

    I DO agree however with the kids though over here (northern europe) the "laws" are not quite like that and if it is a public playground that was paid for by taxes, you may take photos. You may NOT however take photos of children without permission.

    //my 2c.
     
  11. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #11
    I'm thinking this too. If you can't definitively identify yourself in the photo, how can you claim your image is being used by others for profit without your consent? I think the model release only applies in situations where the person is identifiable.

    edit: here is a good reference for a general outline of your rights and responsibilities as a photographer in the US. Some people even print this out and carry it with them.
    http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf
     
  12. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #12
    Not sure it is true, but been told NYC is a VERY tripod unfriendly town. Seems that the building owners own the sidewalks in front of their buildings. Not sure how true this is...
     
  13. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #13
    Right. Now go find one single example of a commercially used photo with a busy New York street in it. Editorial use is another matter (and that usage includes books and magazine articles).

    The stock agency I'm with puts it this way:

    "Examples when you need a model release also include, crowd scenes, team sports, and scenarios when the face is not visible such as parts of the body, or silhouettes. For a picture of two people shaking hands, where only the hands are in shot, you need two model releases."
     
  14. Tanto thread starter macrumors member

    Tanto

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    USA
    #14
    I appreciate all of the numerous responses that were written. To answer a few questions posed, I am looking to shoot in the US, specifically Los Angeles.

    I found this site which seems to have some good information.
     
  15. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #15
    Legally, people in public places can be photographed without permission or releases as long as the photo isn't used commercially any you are not a creep. That said, let it be noted that some people on the street don't know this.

    Dale
     
  16. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #16
    I am not sure that they do, but I think NYC specifically has a city policy to not allow tripods on walkways and thoroughfares unless you have a permit from the city to do commercial shooting at a particular location. I think it was created directly from 9/11.
     
  17. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

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    Oct 6, 2008
    #17
    Living in LA, since there is so much filming going on anyway, I doubt anybody will hassle you for a permit. I'm not really sure where you intend to shoot "street scenes," but best of luck!
     
  18. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

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    #18
    Please cite a law or code regarding this. The only restrictions for Federal buildings that I know about are military bases when so designated and where deemed off limits by the NRC.
     
  19. ipodtoucher macrumors 68000

    ipodtoucher

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    #19
    There is no legal code, this is a suggestion, if there are cops or security guards anywhere near these special buildings they will stop you and ask you to delete the photos in front of them. I personally have not had this happen, but being a photo student some of my classmates have.

    Another tip: no shooting bridges.... Patriot Act... Just be careful not to get caught...
     
  20. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #20

    My experience and from what I was told was prior to 9-11.... but I am sure that it is worse now...
     
  21. oblomow macrumors 68020

    oblomow

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    Netherlands
    #21
    It makes me wonder, whatever happened to 'land of the free, home of the brave' if you can't even take pictures of your (!) own government buildings.
    (don't want to be a troll, but if this is the result of 9/11 the terrorists have really won). Btw. things are not much better in our part of the world.
     
  22. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #22
    Unless they are arresting you, or have a court order from a judge, they are not allowed to force you to delete your photos as they are your property.
     
  23. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #23
    Don't confuse commercial requirements/policy with legal restrictions.

    As an example with the (hypothetical) handshake image..... the model release policy protects the agency from getting caught in the middle of a dispute between a photographer and two models who donated their time because they were told the image was going to be used only for a small non-profit newsletter, and then find their hands gracing the billboards of Times Square. As well other countries may currently have stricter rules about releases - or may enact stricter rules in the future. In this case the agency is merely ensuring, for commercial reasons, that their inventory is usable in as many different places as possible for as long as possible.

    As a side note, Phrasikleia, how's Lightroom working out for you now that you've had it for a few months?
     
  24. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #24
    I was just responding to the statements about stock photography. Of course the actual laws of different countries will vary, but if you're going to sell stock, then you have to be mindful of the lowest common denominator. And if you're selling through an agency, then you have no choice; they state the rules. If there is some country that will permit the commercial use of crowd photos without releases, fine, but I don't know which country that would be, and I wouldn't advise anyone to take risks when selling photos directly (i.e. without an agency).

    Of course if a 'street shooter' has no intention of ever selling his photos for commercial use, then he needn't worry about obtaining releases.

    Lightroom: I still have the same problem, and I'm having trouble disciplining myself to go through the extra step of adding location keywords to accomplish my sorting. And I don't like the extra fussy way of having to do the sorting. It was much easier with Aperture, but maybe Adobe will get around to improving LR to do what I want someday.
     
  25. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    Oct 22, 2007
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    #25
    Fair enough... and good to have that clarification.

    Re: Lightroom keywords: My wife helped me for years to get my file sorting/organization into place (the paper kind). I kept insisting that I spent more time, it seemed, getting putting my files into order than I used to spend looking for things.

    However, now that I have finished getting things whipped into shape (OK, "finish" is a bit, ummm, overstating things admittedly - but it's much much better now!) I actually have little celebrations when I search and find something in a minute instead of the hours it used to take. I can see the time saved....and I remember how long it used to take me.

    I guess this is just a wordy analogy.... keep at the keywords.... your mantra is "keywords are our friends.... keywords are our friends.... ". The first time you pop up 35 suitable images with a 15 second search (including 4 images that you would not have thought of) you will see the power and the glory of a good keywording system.
     

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