The in's 'n out's of street photography from those who know!

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by todd frederick, Aug 25, 2000.

  1. Please bear with me on this: For 40+ years I have been photographing tree and rocks (and gorillas!). They don't sue people! The following is a question I posted on the Leica Forum today. Please take a look, and read my question which follows:

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    "I recently (very recently...like a week ago!) acquired a nearly mint IIIF and a Imarec VIOOH viewer. I soon discovered that all I need is a high speed film (400-3200), zone focus from infinity to 8' at f/16 (more with a 35 lens), totally enclose the entire camera with my hands, leaving only the tip of the lens and viewer exposed, and I can move wherever and whenever without bothering anyone. New adventures!

    <p>

    Has anyone else discovered this particular attribute of the early Leica cameras?"

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    I have led a sheltered life! I want to start ""walking the streets and sucking up the oooze of life. I want to use the above mentioned Leica technique tp do this...like tomorrow...seriously! However, when I take photographs of total strangers, what do I do? ...walk up to them and say, "I've just invaded your privacy, please sign here!"

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    Many of you post images of street people...photographs I've hesitated to take due to privacy and legal issues. Seriously, what do you do (with photos like Jeff and Tony take and show here...in public) in order to get them on a web site, forum, or published without permission. This has been asked and answered before hundreds of times, but I still don't know the answer.

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    Any thoughts. Hey...I may have some "show and tell" on Monday!
     
  2. The legislation in my country (Denmark) states (as far as I4ve been
    informed) that whenever you are in a public area - such as street,
    beach, sports stadium, public transportation, whatever, you are a
    legit subject for anyone with a camera.
    There has been a case lately, which appeared in the news, about an
    elderly man who, half concealing a camera under his jacket, took
    pictures of big-breasted women on mainstreet in the city of Odense.
    Naturally this was not to the liking of neither his unwilling
    subjects nor local shop owners, but nothing could be done, since his
    photographs were perfectly legal. As far as I know, he is still
    practising his little "hobby" :)
    Another example I remember from only a few weeks back was one of the
    two national TV-channels showing footage which was obviously candid
    video of fat people undressing on the beach, as part of a news
    special about health problems related to overweight. Personally I
    found that one more offensive than the boob-loving street shooter.
    I guess, given these conditions, that I will never need to let
    anybody sign a release form...
     
  3. If you need to know, then ask a lawyer. It's a minefield.
    I come from the same country as Christel "No Film" Green, but live in Britain now. Here I believe the rules are that you can photograph people on the street and publish the images if:
    • The images are illustrating "news" (as in the stuff newspapers publish between the adverts...)
    • The people are part of the "general scene". So if you photograph a street and there happen to be people on it, it's OK as long as the street is the primary subject. (Yes, I know: how do you decide?)
    Beyond that you are on thiner ice. (The tabloids, btw. claim that their celebrity images are "newsworthy" even when they are shot with a 2,400+ mm focal length on a private beach...)
    Your best bet is your local professional photographic organisation: they should be able to help you both with knowledge of the law and with recommendations for a good lawyer when somebody get offended... :)
     
  4. I should have added:
    There is, apparently, no right to privacy per se in Britain, so the rules here may be more lax than elsewhere. (This may change in the near future then the European Convention on Human Rights is incorporated into English (British?) law.)
    I'm not aware of any high-profile court cases. However, there is a trend that celebrities are attempting to copyright their likeness. I think we got that idea from your side of the pond. Also, there was talk about copyrighting the likeness of buildings (e.g. The Dome). I'm not sure what the current status is, but I think that they are both un-proven, at least.
    Seriously: talk to somebody local who is a professional in law.
     
  5. I have heard that we in the UK are to have some new legislation soon,
    to bring us closer to the European position. The French position is
    MUCH tougher that that, as stated above: people can't be photographed
    even in public places (or is it just publishing that is a problem?).

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    I'm just pragmatic. I won't publish when I think a subject wouldn't
    like it, or if it might embarrass them at some time in the future. I
    don't sell images for advertising use, and I don't get model
    releases. I doubt that anyone will ever sue me, and I don't think
    I'll ever be worth sueing.

    <p>

    PS. Yes, the screw-thread Leicas are the only REAL Leicas. The later
    IIIf's, with the self-timers, have the best viewfinders (except for
    the over-priced IIIg's), but that is irrelevant if you use a separate
    finder. They really like Delta 3200. No, I'm not a camera nut, honest.
     

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