Photographing strangers

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by CrazyEye, Nov 9, 2008.

  1. CrazyEye

    CrazyEye TPF Noob!

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    99.9% (maybe more) of photos I've taken do not have people in them. Recently, I started trying people pictures: pictures of my friends' children on the playground, some portraits of my niece. But, I really love pictures I see of "unfamiliar" people, à la National Geographic.

    The problem is that I'm not brave enough to go up to a stranger and ask them if I can take their picture. Will the person be flattered or insulted (for example, if they are homeless or don't look like me)?

    - How should a photographer approach a person?
    - When is a photo release form required and how do you ask them to sign it?
    - What about when you don't speak the same language?
    - If you want a candid photo, is it ok to take the photo then ask for the release afterward?
    - What if the subject is a child and there is no parent around?
     
  2. DReali

    DReali TPF Noob!

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    As far as I know in England, Switzerland and Italy photo release forms are only required if you plan on making money off your photos. In some cases, such as photo journalism, this doesn't apply. I never have asked for someone to sign one and never even printed one because i never plan on making money off these kinds of photos.

    With most people I just stick my lens in their face and fire away. In most cases people will walk past with a perplexed look, probably asking themselves "did that guy just take a picture of me?". For me its all about catching a glimpse of humanity which can only be done through luck and timing. IMO asking someone in advance for their picture most of the time yields false expressions and poor results. If I am photographing someone that I think may be offended or start trouble I smile first and trust me, a smile goes a long way. If they have a problem I'll explain "I'm sorry, it's digital I'll erase it". If the smile doesnt do it I ask (I would do this with homeless people) but as I never take photos of the homeless I never ask. This also depends on where you are; Italy and Switzerland are genrally more tranquil and safer than certain cities in the UK and America so use your own discretion. This is just how i do it and by no means intend that it should work for anyone else so don't take my advice word for word (i don't want to be resposible for any problems you may encounter:lol:)
     
  3. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    I don't know where you are and I'm definitely not a lawyer, but this is my understanding:

    - You only need a model release if the image is going to be used to promote something (like your photography business, or if you're going to sell it as a stock photo that can end up being used in advertising of some sort).

    - You can make money off of the image without a model release if you are selling it as art or photojournalism.

    - As long as you are in a public space and your subject is in a public space, you have the right to photograph them.

    - If the subject has a "reasonable right to privacy" you may not photograph them (ie: in their home, a restroom whether public or private, etc...)

    - Even if your subject is in a public space, if you have to trespass, you may not photograph them.

    - Some municipalities/states restrict public photography (for instance New York city is considering banning photography in the subways... though I expect a legal challenge on that if it passes).

    - Children are fair game under the above rules, but beware angry parents who don't give a damn if you have a legal right or not.

    Like I said, though, I'm not a lawyer or legal expert and this is merely my understanding of things. PLEASE check with lawyer in your area!
     
  4. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Shoot first. Ask when you get around to it. Always act like you are supposed to be doing exactly whatever you are doing.

    Also remember to smile (pleasantly)- it helps a lot.
     
  5. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    This is the only part you got wrong. It is not against the law to take photos of people even while trespassing on private property in Canada, US, Britain or many other countries. You don't make sense here either because if your subject is in a public place, how can you possibly trespass to take their picture, since you would have to be in a public place as well.

    skieur
     
  6. Fiendish Astronaut

    Fiendish Astronaut TPF Noob!

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    It might kind of ruin the photo if you have to ask first. Some reportage photographers don't want people to know they're being photographed until it's too later! On the other hand if you want somebody to smile for you then probably best ask them.

    Skieur - I can imagine a situation in which someone might stand in somebody's garden in order to take "candid" pictures of someone walking down the street.Nevermind if you're taking pictures; you are still trespassing and the photographs might be evidence that's used against you!
     
  7. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Legally, you can take a photo of anyone in a public place because they have no reasonable expectation to privacy. The exception in a few locales is someone who is being treated on location for injuries or medical issues. Common sense exceptions also include washrooms, changerooms, court, military installations of a secret nature etc.

    If the use is for advertising purposes, a release is necessary but editorial or artistic use is OK.

    However, how you go about it can lead to other charges. Blocking a persons progress down the street even temporarily by sticking a camera in their face could be construed as assault or intimidation in some areas or harassment in others. Setting up a camera on a tripod in a busy location could be consider loitering. Any activity that obstructs pedestrian traffic may require a permit in still other areas.

    So pick your camera location carefully, stay on the move, and don't be too aggressive.

    skieur
     
  8. CrazyEye

    CrazyEye TPF Noob!

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    Why do some photography contests require a release?
     
  9. a_spaceman

    a_spaceman TPF Noob!

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    in my view, if you ask and they say yes you'll be fine.
    but then, i never went further than asking a lady if i could take a photo or two of her dog...!
    on the other hand, i've been asked to pose a few times. what they did, and you should do, is be friendly enough, say you want to take a photo of them and tell them why, whatever is the reason. quick and to the point, knowing what you're doing and informing them of what's going on. i guess that if they'll say no it is for shyness, not for legal views, ethics or anything like that.
     
  10. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    They're either stupid or they want to use your photos in their advertising, and it probably says so in the rules.

    99% of "photo contests" are scams anyway.
     
  11. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    Is it actually run by Parade?
     
  12. tenlientl

    tenlientl TPF Noob!

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    First time I took my dSLR out was also the first time I took pictures of people I didn't know. TBH, I just snapped away.

    I didn't care what they would think. I just smiled. Male, females, children, seniors.

    There's times though where I was sexually attracted to certain females, so I hesitated taking the pictures because what If they said something.. That woulda crushed my ego a little bit, but whatever. Did it anyways.

    Just smile. It's what I did, they smiled back.
     

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