Candid Photography Advice
I want to touch on a issue that all photographers have done at one time or another, with just about everybody now carrying and using smart phones to take pictures. When we see something interesting outside in a public setting, or just doing candid photography on the street, we need to be respectful of how we choose to shoot while in public. Basically, anything in a public area can be legally photographed: men, women, children, animals, buildings, law enforcement, etc.
That being said, if you want to go out with your new camera or smart phone you just bought and take candid pictures of people going about they business, it is best to take pictures from a distance, preferably with a zoom lens, so this way you do not get in the person’s face with your lens and have the person get very defensive and possibly attack you, and try not to have your subject notice you taking his or her photo. Try to be discreet as possible when taking photos of people out in public.
If, for example, you see two little girls with a lemonade stand selling Lemonade, and you find it would make a cute picture on Facebook, instead of just quickly snapping their picture and walking away, instead, if they parents are with them, then its best to ask first if it’s alright to take they picture because you find two kids selling Lemonade would be a cute picture to take (even though they are on a public sidewalk and you don’t need to obtain permission). If they say ‘no’, then respect they wishes and instead find something else to take photos of. Because, especially if you are a Male photographer, you do not want to even be suspected of being some kind of Pedophile and have the parents call the police on you, (does the term WITCH-HUNT mean anything to you?).
Keeping a distance and being discreet is the best way to do candid street photography without causing problems for yourself. And one more thing, at Christmas time you may pass by a house that has a very good Christmas light decoration out front and you want to snap a photo of it. That is perfectly legal, but, if you were to use a zoom lens on that same house and instead zoom into a bedroom window, then that is considered illegal, because the resident has a expectancy of privacy.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer and the above information should not be taken as legal advice, the information I provide is based on my own personal experience and study of California law.
[Editor’s Note: Mike Kaufer did a wonderful job of snapping this cute photo of me and my service dog, Ray. We were sitting outside the Starbucks in Monterey Park, California. Although he was in his legal rights to take this photo since it was a public venue and I had no reasonable expectation of privacy, he did in fact ask, and was granted, permission.]
– Mike Kaufer, Photojournalist, Phoenix Genesis
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