Candid Pics Ethics & Legalities

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Jim Redelfs, Dec 25, 2004.

  1. Jim Redelfs

    Jim Redelfs Guest

    Paparazzi 101, anyone?

    What are some of the more common legal issues to consider when confronting an
    unfolding event, camera in hand, before wading in and firing away?

    Before departing, do you introduce yourself to one or more of the principals
    of the event and had out a business card?

    Of my work over the years, my best stuff is portraiture and still life.
    However, if provoked, I will easily brag about one or two candid shots.

    Now, with a new SLR (my first digital camera), my interest in photography
    appears to be rekindled. I have begun bringing my bag (and even my heavy
    Bogen tripod) in the car at virtually all times. The reason for doing this
    should be obvious to any adventurous photographer: Encountering unexpected
    things and events that would make for interesting pics. (Yes, including

    I recall an incident where a photographer was penalized for failing to come to
    the aid of an accident victim(s), having opted instead to continue shooting
    the event. Does this sound familiar?

    Topical Requisite: All photography referred to or implied herein
    was/is/should be done using DIGITAL equipment.

    Jim Redelfs, Dec 25, 2004
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  2. Well, if confronted, you can look 'em squarely in the eye and announce
    that there's no film in the camera. You can say, "I had this only 8
    days!" You can .....

    There have been lots of posts on people being rebuffed or threatened in
    sensitive areas, such as the GG bridge in SF, various D.C. monuments,
    etc. but these quickly fall into political discourse, to put it politely.
    John McWilliams, Dec 25, 2004
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  3. I shoot for three ways. As an artist I can shoot anything a sell prints.
    Most people are flattered...and those who aren't might try a complaint. But,
    they were in public and were fair game. As a photojournalist (and the
    Supremes have said (I heard) that a web page is media) I can shoot and
    publish anything I can see. As a commercial photographer I have a client and
    they ask me to take the photos. Only in this last way is a release really
    necessary...and that is the clients job.

    Lets look at a case...Miss America....posed for some slightly naughty photos
    when younger. She signed a release so the photographer was clear. Suppose
    she had not signed it...where did he stand then?
    Gene Palmiter, Dec 25, 2004
  4. Jim Redelfs

    Mike Henley Guest

    The question is; why would you want to do that?

    Let me guess, you bought all this expensive equipment capable of taking
    hundreds of shots and don't know what to do with it, so now you think
    that playing pretend-a-photojournalist is what you should do?

    This really is at the heart of the thread I started lately; "what
    should the serious amateur concern himself with?".

    I'm not making fun of you, been there, done that, so let me tell you
    what I think, since I'll assume that's what you want out of posting.

    Point #1 - Most candid shots do not make good photographs. Just because
    it's candid and the event is somewhat interesting, it doesn't
    necessarily result in a good photograph. You really need to ask
    yourself whether it's worth the trouble or not. This may not be
    apparent to you right now, but go ahead and shoot all the candids you
    want, in not too long you'll probably see what I mean. In some time,
    you'll become aware of what is and what is not a good photographic
    opportunity, and time alone is not enough to teach you that, no matter
    how many photographs you take, but you do actually need to actively
    study it, and most of the things that you probably think are so right
    now about candids are in fact not.

    Point #2 - If you ever find yourself in a situation where someone needs
    help, for God's sake don't be thinking you're Da Vinci or the opinions
    of the artistically-illiterate asses on photocritique sites are worth a
    hoot and go help them!

    Point #3 - Avoid photographing children that you don't know. Avoid
    lurking in playgrounds and parks and et cetera. People get very
    protective about their children, and and you don't need to argue with
    that however righteous you think you are. This especially applies in
    areas that are sensitive to sensationalist media, or those where child
    abuse is common. If you must photograph, then get to know the parents

    Point #4 - If none of what I said above rings true to you yet, and you
    must be obnoxious, then be sure to travel to a town other than yours
    and play your little pretend-a-photojournalist game there. Whatever you
    do, don't be obnoxious to your local community. Even if you don't know
    the person, the likelihood is that you'll know someone who does. Don't
    be an asshole in your locale!

    Point #5 - Candid photography is ultimately about people. Clarify to
    yourself what it is that intrigues you about a certain photo
    opportunity and that'll be a better insight into your motives. Is it a
    fashionable individual? is it a pretty girl? sometimes it's really
    better to learn how to be a good conversationalist, and there are ways
    to learn that, and just walk up to them and start up a conversation
    that may lead to a friendship or other forms of relationship. Of
    course, then, you can photograph them all you want, in all plethora of
    intimate expressions and situations. But if you just try to 'steal' a
    candid shot of them, then, what do you say to that! Photography can be
    a good way to enrich your social sphere, make it so. Same goes for
    older people or the poor and so on; clarify what your original interest
    is, is it that you want to help them? is it that you're sympathetic to
    marxist concerns? do you have an axiety about disease or death?

    Point #6 - there are many points I could go through, but I have other
    things to do. Regardless of legal issues, you should be more concerned
    with the social and ethical implications. Had your income as a
    professional photographer depended on it, and it was worth much, and
    had implications of scale on the rest of your work, then that would've
    been a different matter. But you should really be more concerned with
    the social and ethical implications than the legal ones.
    Mike Henley, Dec 26, 2004
  5. Jim Redelfs

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Very well said !

    Ken Weitzel, Dec 26, 2004
  6. Jim Redelfs

    Jim Redelfs Guest

    Do what? You quoted my ENTIRE article, verbatim, and your first response is
    (Ya, know... It's darn tough to not cop a similar holier-than-thou attitude
    and respond in a like manner.)

    Uh, no. I just put all of my MUCH more expensive 35mm bodies and lenses that
    I've used (amateur and pro) for >25-years in a laundry basket, disappointed in
    their virtual worthlessness, and switched to digital. The format changed, not
    much else.

    I've done mostly amateur work but have been legitimately published in the
    past. I have no desire or intention to chase ambulances. I am simply
    interested in the LEGALITY of some aspects of candid photography; issues I've
    never considered in the past.
    OK, if you say so. :\
    Agreed. That's why we toss out the stinkers.
    Necessarily, no. Usually, certainly.
    Since you're into making assumptions about someone you don't know, I shall do
    the same: I'll keep your advice handy for my NEXT life: Based on having
    lived for over half a century, and using a camera for all but 7 or 8 years of
    that, there's a good chance I've shot more candids that you.
    Too late. I learned that many, MANY moons ago.
    But, wait! You just said... :\
    Study what?
    You would probably be surprised at what I think - and know.
    Trust me. I would - in a heartbeat. (CPR certified, blah, blah...)

    I was simply wondering if you had heard of the situation I mentioned. My
    words were not meant to imply that, if I encountered a life-or-death
    situation, I would opt to photograph the incident rather than render aid. Not
    a chance.
    Good advice. Mine is better: Avoid children that you don't know.
    Yeah, as a parent and grandparent I can appreciate that.
    Just WHERE might these areas be? If they were KNOWN, I expect that,
    especially in the case of the latter, such activity would be less prevalent.
    That's good advice in ANY case.
    That's good advice, too. However, you've lost me. I asked about the legal
    considerations of candid photography and suddenly I'm an obnoxious asshole, in
    my raincoat (yeah, I added THAT) photographing kids in the park. Where did
    all THAT come from?
    Perhaps I should have posed my query about "action" photography or "event"
    photography as opposed to candid.
    Ahhhhhh! I get it now. All this expensive equipment is a way to pick-up
    chicks. Silly me: I thought a puppy was a better prop.
    "Darn! I missed!"?
    I've missed so much.
    Taking a GREAT photo.
    With a GREAT photo? Otherwise, I just rely on my Continuous Giver and Fair
    Share contributions to the United Way.
    Nah. Michael Moore has that well covered.
    Doesn't everyone? :)
    Me, too. Seriously, I really DO appreciate the TIME you took to reply.
    MORE concerned? Why?

    Not too many attorneys make their living defending or prosecuting one charged
    with a social or ethical faux paux. Legal or even civil violations concern me
    a "bit" more.
    Well, I *DID* include "ethics" in the Subject. You covered that nicely.

    Perhaps I could be directed to a resource that covers "fair use", what
    constitutes a "public figure" and the like.

    Jim Redelfs, Dec 26, 2004
  7. Jim Redelfs

    Jer Guest

    Jim Redelfs wrote:

    Screw all that. Just do like I did, get a really long lens and blast
    away at whatever you want. They'll never know.

    Fair use? Fair is whatever I get a focus lock on. I'm not shooting for
    Home & Gardens - I'm shooting homes AND gardens.

    Public figure is largely limited to elected officials, but they make
    good subjects too.

    Tip #1: Carry business cards with contact info for yourself and your

    Tip #2: Get a camera mount for the front seat and never let anybody
    ride shotgun when you're hunting.

    Tip #C: Power windows, tinted glass and run-flat tires are your friends.
    Jer, Dec 26, 2004
  8. Jim Redelfs

    Mike Henley Guest

    Look, JR, I don't know you, so don't take anything I said personally
    and don't be offended. From your post I wondered if you were new to
    this stuff. Some of the points I mentioned I felt a need to point them
    out in a very clear way, because some people actually make such
    mistakes, be it inexperience or whatever, and it could cause them

    As for laws, I suggest you look into the 'public intimacy' and
    'improper photography' regulations of your area, as they differ from
    place to place.
    Mike Henley, Dec 26, 2004
  9. Jim Redelfs

    Ryan Robbins Guest

    What makes you think that digital photography is any different from film
    photography in terms of ethics and rights?
    Ryan Robbins, Dec 26, 2004
  10. Jim Redelfs

    Jim Redelfs Guest

    I didn't and wasn't. Quite seriously, I was almost AMAZED that someone
    actually took the time to write something lengthy and informative.

    From the "typical" usenet standpoint, your reply was very "measured". Under
    different circumstances, I would have been flamed into submission.
    That's the value of a public discussion. If your words were of value to me,
    it's entirely likely they were also to others.
    Well, it's off to the library for me! (...and not jail! HA!)

    Thanks, again!
    Jim Redelfs, Dec 26, 2004
  11. Jim Redelfs

    Jim Redelfs Guest

    JR> switched to digital. The format changed, not much else.
    I don't. Hence, my words: The format changed, not much else.

    Jim Redelfs, Dec 26, 2004
  12. Jim Redelfs

    C J Campbell Guest

    It is nice to be a photographer. It is more important to be a human being.
    C J Campbell, Dec 26, 2004
  13. Jim Redelfs

    Mike Henley Guest


    You really ought to work on the narrative of your usenet posts. It's
    just too misleading.
    Mike Henley, Dec 28, 2004
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