Off topic--people watching

I’m a compulsive people-watcher. I enjoy sitting in an airport watching people walk by. Or at art fairs, where I’ve got nothing much else to do between sales.

In that vein, this photo collection tickles me pink:

As an aside, I wonder, does the photographer have to get a release from each of these people to publish their photos?


That was great! Now I have a new game next time I am at the airport!

As a rule, a photo legally belongs to the photographer, unless otherwise defined in modeling contracts, employment agreements, or the like involved. Some people certainly consider it polite to seek a release, but it is typically no legal issue to release a picture you took in public.


To further iterate - it depends on the usage. Commercial vs editorial.

The general rule of thumb is identifiable people in an image being used for commercial purposes (advertising or selling a product) will need a model release.

An editorial image will not need model releases.


As all these pictures are taken in public areas in the Netherlands you do not need a release form from the people photographed.

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i was going to respond similarly, but they’re not, actually. a number from new york and other spots in europe. as mentioned above, it’s really going to be able sales vs stories.

Intresting but it seems that the photographer was trying to say that we are all sheep but with enough patience everyone will fit a matrix like this somewhere.
Yes I’m sure someone else is wearing an earth tone t-shirt with some type of pithy graphic and cargo shorts.

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That was really cool. There is always the strain between the desire for individuality and conformity. I love people watching. like @tom said, now I have a new game to play while I do it.


This is wonderful. Great eye and the camera as a filter is an amazing thing to see happen.

I always find it amusing when I look out into the congregation and there appear to be a bunch of people wearing the same color shirt/blouse/jacket. William Gibson’s book Pattern Recognition really explores these ideas in a powerful way.


Years ago I was at a gathering of friends and two of my best friends arrived separately and behold they were both wearing the exact same outfit! Now the one friend is almost 2 meters tall. My other friend 1.70ish. I have the picture somewhere! It was mini-me jokes from that point on.


I’ve always been told that if I wanted to make money on a picture that I had to have a release from the person. However, if you’re in a crowd you’re free to sell no matter what. I’m no lawyer so take what I say with a grain of salt.

10,000 Paparazzi in Hollywood would disagree. :wink:


So you’re saying if you’re face in the crowd is found and the photographer made money you could claim money for being in the photo? :thinking:

generally you do need releases for commercial purposes, i think, but there are special rules for editorial / news use. it might be less a strict legal thing and more that not acquiring releases opens you up for damages later on.

The opposite. I’m saying they take pictures of people in crowds, not in crowds, through windows, from airplanes, celebrities, celebrities kids, etc. and never worry about getting a release. But still get paid. No rules.

taking a picture of a person in public and then selling it saying, “this is a picture of this person in public” is allowed.

but if you, say, took a picture of someone and then put that picture in an ad to sell a product, that would be illegal without their permission. even if you’re not explicitly or implicitly saying, “this person endorses or uses” your product.

when we take architectural photos, we get photo releases from every recognizable person in the pictures, or we can’t use them. if we use that photo to market our services, we need their permission.


i think that’s a good basic rule.

i suspect it all varies between states but i’m guessing that’s applicable to most.

copyright law is a federal statute, so it’s not a state-by-state thing.

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ah, i didn’t know if the image / publicity was covered in the federal law. but i guess it makes sense, i suppose we’re all granted a copyright to our own image, which is where this all starts

This episode in Planet Money talks about the court case that began to define your rights to your own image for commercial uses. Frank Sinatra plays his part in the story.