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El Paso Photography Photos

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE LAW

Have you ever wanted to get into street photography, but were concerned about the law, releases and permissions? This piece by Luis explains it all!

By Luis Dorantes

1. MODEL RELEASES ARE GENERALLY NOT REQUIRED…

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about what is required when photographing people.Granted, it never hurts to obtain a release, and if you intend to use or license your image commercially, then it’s much easier to get a model release immediately before or after photographing a subject than it is to try to track down a stranger for a waiver after the fact.However, simply photographing a person in public view — including children and law enforcement officials — does not require either a model release or expressed consent.

2. … BUT USE COMMON SENSE.

There are certain exceptions to the above generalization, most of them related to a person’s “reasonable expectation of privacy.”For example, if you’re shooting from a public street into someone’s bedroom or bathroom window, you may be crossing an ethical and even legal line. Shooting underpublic bathroom stalls or up the skirts of passersby is also likely to get you into trouble.Texas even has an “Improper Photography” statute that makes it a felony to photograph a subject “without the other person’s consent … and with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”If someone waves you off when you try to photograph him or her, you may be well within your legal rights to take the shot, but ask yourself if it’s worth the verbal or even physical altercation that it may yield.Confrontation aside, I’d always advise being respectful and considerate towards your subjects, and if they express that they’d rather not be photographed, I’d suggest simply moving on.

3. YOUR RIGHTS AS A PHOTOGRAPHER ARE BROADEST IN PUBLIC PLACES.

For the most part, that means that as long as your shooting position is on public ground, you can photograph whatever you wish; this includes subjects situated on private property but within public view, such as a couple sitting on a restaurant patio that you can view from the street or a waiter who is taking a smoke break on his employer’s back step.likely to get you into trouble.Texas even has an “Improper Photography” statute that makes it a felony to photograph a subject “without the other person’s consent … and with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”If someone waves you off when you try to photograph him or her, you may be well within your legal rights to take the shot, but ask yourself if it’s worth the verbal or even physical altercation that it may yield.Confrontation aside, I’d always advise being respectful and considerate towards your subjects, and if they express that they’d rather not be photographed, I’d suggest simply moving on.

3. YOUR RIGHTS AS A PHOTOGRAPHER ARE BROADEST IN PUBLIC PLACES.

For the most part, that means that as long as your shooting position is on public ground, you can photograph whatever you wish; this includes subjects situated on private property but within public view, such as a couple sitting on a restaurant patio that you can view from the street or a waiter who is taking a smoke break on his employer’s back step.Similarly, contrary to popular belief, you do not need to obtain parental or guardian consent to photograph children on or visible from public property.

Want to see more of Luis’ photos? Click here for his Flickr account!


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