Considering all the hype about Glass photography and privacy, I decided I’d better do some research. I was surprised at what I learned.
1) Can you photograph people without asking?
YES. You can photograph people in public places – on a street or in a park – except in cases where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, like a bathroom, dressing room or medical facility.
2) Even children and celebrities?
3) What about in private places that are open to the public, like stores or restaurants?
MAYBE. Property owners can prohibit you from taking photos ON their property. However, you can still take photos OF their property from a public place, like the sidewalk.
There are many private-public places that forbid photography. Sometimes shops do not want photos taken of their products. Some museums and most casino floors will not allow photography. If you are on private property, the property owner gets to set the rule. However, in most places you can assume photography is allowed and explicit permission is not required.
Exceptions will arise. For instance, does a person have the right to expect privacy while eating in a restaurant? A recent court case said “yes”. So add restaurants to the list of no-no places and think twice when in doubt. Remember, many situations have not been addressed in a court of law… yet.
4) Can you sell photos of people without a model release?
Model releases are needed for commercial purposes (marketing and advertizing) but not for editorial or artistic purposes.
5) Are there exceptions?
YES. For example, some government, military or nuclear installations can prohibit photographs on the basis of national security.
These are some guidelines as to what is generally permitted. Local laws may vary. This should not be construed as legal advice.
If you’d like to learn more, read through the sources linked below. Hopefully my article will help you if some privacy fanatics insist you are violating their rights.
USA Today: Think twice before taking pictures in public
Bert P. Krages II, Attorney at Law: The Photographer’s Right