Saturday, November 07, 2009
In the United States it is quite legal to take pictures out in public, of anything you see. The only exception I can think of are on certain government and military installations. However if you take a photo of people and their faces are recognizable, you typically must obtain a model release in order to sell those images.
These statements are not true in many other countries, including some European nations. Taking pictures of storefronts is illegal in many other countries, for example.
That said, I was rarely confronted or stopped while taking pictures of any subject, anywhere in the world for my first 30 years as a commercial photographer. I compose a lot of photographs, typically more than a thousand every week, sometimes many more. Since 2001 I have been regularly confronted in the U.S. and overseas while taking pictures in public.
The people that confront me are typically concerned, if somewhat zealous citizens, determined to protect their public buildings, airports and bridges. Those just happen to be common subjects my clients hire me to photograph. Occasionally, police or security guards do confront me. I sometimes even offer to call the police myself to have them uphold my rights to photograph in public against aggressive people. When other police do arrive, I usually receive sincere apologies for any trouble I might have experienced.
In regards to requests to delete pictures from your digital camera you do have an alternative. There are several free or inexpensive Undelete software tools that quickly recover images that were deleted using the camera's delete buttons. When someone burly insists that I delete a particular photo and I do not have the time or energy to object, I sometimes do so. Once the individual is satisfied that I deleted the image and leaves I then switch to different memory card and continue to shoot. I quickly recover the deleted images later back in my studio.