Slightly Off-Topic: Photographers’ Rights

This isn’t really about how to take better pictures, but it’s important enough that I want to share.

Yesterday, while walking through San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, I spotted a sign in a bookstore window. The sign reminded me of something, so I pulled out my phone and took a picture of it. Just as I finished taking the picture, one of the store’s employees came up to the window and gestured to indicate that I wasn’t allowed to do that.

I didn’t push the issue, but he happened to be dead wrong. In the US, I have every right to photograph the exterior of a commercial building, so long as I am doing so from public property. If I’m on private property, the owners of the property have every right to ask me to refrain from taking photos, and I must do so.

Every photographer should read the following information on photographers’ rights.  It’s even provided as a printable PDF, so that you can keep a copy in your camera bag.  In our current social climate, photographers are being hassled more and more in the name of security, and it’s important to know your rights, responsibilities, and restrictions.


Filed under Discussion

5 responses to “Slightly Off-Topic: Photographers’ Rights

  1. Cel

    I just saw a link to your site today from Flikr and am happy to have found it. I have it bookmarked to read through.

  2. Hi,
    Thanks very much for simplifying photography to those who don’t know much. Although I know a lot about it, sometimes trying to explain it to people might be a challenge. But after reading your articles it motivate me to continue what I’m doing. Really great articles by you, keep up the good work and you will be rewarded one day for your good work.

    My name is Kenroy Ambris
    I’m from Trinidad, West Indies
    And I’m a professional Photographer/ videographer

  3. Lolita

    I would love you to post info on how you do Flower Porn and white balancing. Great blog, I wish you “resume” posting.

    I am desperately looking for good tutorials on shooting “ordinary” people in a studio and using studio lights. If anybody knows a good place to start, please post. (Ive checked strobist blog)

  4. Steve

    … I didn’t push the issue …

    I wish you would have!

    Maybe at some businesses, “not pushing the issue” is just easier… but at a bookstore? I realize that the guy was just an employee, not a reference librarian, but if ANYBODY should understand these sorts of freedoms, I’d think it’d be a “book” kinda person.

    Was it specially witty or something? D’you think they were afraid that SomeOtherStore(tm) was gonna steal their idea? Or…?

  5. stopshootingauto

    Nah, the sign just reminded me of another logo… one for a product I worked on a long time ago. I didn’t push it because I was headed back to the office and didn’t really have the time or energy to stop.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s