Legal Use of Street Photos?

Updated on July 31, 2017 in Photography
4 on July 19, 2017

I was just wondering what the legal issues are when shooting street photos of people in public without having them sign a model release of some kind.

For example if I decide I want to use the photos in a book and sell it, am I even allowed to do that with pictures of people who have no idea their image may be used in this book?

I assume there is less issue with posting on a photo blog since you’re not necessarily selling it, but wasn’t sure about selling photo books (or even just printing a personal book).

 

 
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0 on July 19, 2017

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in the USA the law seems to be on the side of “public spaces, public faces.” Your record of people in a public place (or visible from a public place) doesn’t violate anybody’s privacy, because there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy in public.

Outside of Eric’s Street Club (where asking people for permission is part of the assignments), I usually don’t ask to take people’s photos—I’m just really smiley and unintrusive, and most people don’t say anything. Usually people think I’m with a local newspaper or a student doing an assignment, so if they ask “What’s this for?” I just tell them the truth: I’m an amateur photographer. Then I just tell them to pretend I’m not there, and 99% of the time they do. If they ask me not to take their photo, I don’t, though, just out of courtesy.

On the one or two occasions people have objected to my taking their photos (after I already have), I’ve also honored their request, and deleted their photo in front of them. Not because I think they have a legal right to deny my having a photograph of them, but because it’s just not worth the trouble to argue (and I don’t want to give street photographers a bad reputation).

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0 on July 19, 2017

No need. Only need release form if you will put their photo on a Pepsi ad

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0 on July 20, 2017

Thanks guys! That was pretty much what I thought. I just wanted to confirm with you guys as well. I need to dig out my camera. I’ve kind of fallen out of using it the last few years but I’m going to NYC next week and was really thinking about doing some shooting while I’m there. 

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0 on July 31, 2017

It very much depends on the laws of the country where you take pictures. I’m not sure if this source is 100% trustworthy, but it’s worth taking a look at.

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