You are here

Shooting in public- rights to shoot

Chris Harmon's picture
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 05/10/2007 - 12:04pm

Hello All,

I was shooting stills at a beach here in South Florida recently. I was on a deck shooting pans across the whole beach, which consisted of a lot of young people, both girls and guys, playing volleyball, sunning, surfing, etc. The water and light were perfect, and the colors were just amazing.

About 5 minutes into it, a middle aged woman (in a bikini way too small for her, I might add) came storming up onto the deck, cursing me, calling me a pervert, and shouting all kinds of epithets at me- I thought she might turn violent. Where is a cop when you need one? Anyway, I calmly told herI had a right to be there, and even offered to show here the photos on my SLR screen, if it would make her feel better- of courseI had no obligation to do that, but I was taken off guard by her attack. After she felt like she had berated me enough, she returned to her blanket, packed up and left. But I was NOT leaving, not like that.

Her reasoning was that I had no right to be taking photos of people in a public place. I told her she was incorrect- and later found out that the entire beach and the exact place she had been sitting are on a city sanctioned webcam!

Owing to the fact that it is a public beach, covered by a webcam, and I was not using these photos for any commercial purpose, who is in the right here? Was she just jealous of all the younger women on the beach? Is this a case of my civil liberties being violated?

Thanks.


jimcvideo's picture
Last seen: 5 years 3 days ago
Joined: 04/15/2009 - 1:39pm

We actually had an interesting discussion on this not too long ago. Here's a link.

From what professional advice I have looked into, there's a general assumption that if you are in a public place, your rights to privacy are pretty much flung out the window. Especially places like beaches or popular tourist attractions, where it's almost a certainty that there are a half-dozen cameras rolling. Additionally, if you're zoomed out so far that you can't even make out who the people are, you should be more than safe. I've been told that it's definitely best to get rlease forms for anyone you can make out on a video, ESPECIALLY if that video is going to be publically displayed. The bottom line is that you have every right to tape in public places, as does anyone else who goes to that place. If people show up in that place, there's an assumption that they realize this right.

Of course, with all touchy matters such as this, your best advice if you want to know the "right way" to do things is to speak with a lawyer. They'll tell you the law, and you can decide if you're within your rights to tape. Having said that, I tape in public all the time, and I've never been sued.


zoobie's picture
Last seen: 6 years 1 month ago
Joined: 03/18/2008 - 8:40am

The are no rights to privacy in public places. That's why they're called public places. There's also no expectation of privacy in public places to normal non whacked-out people that don'twear clothes way too small for them and aren't confused towhere they are.

Next time, simply tell her you'rea reporter (for your website, local paper,or whatever). It gets rid of them quickly. News reporters have privileges that transcend all others.

Was there a Dunkin Donuts around? You can usually find cops there...

Another world's first! - www.BuskerAlley.com - Busker HD on the web!
In Production - Busker Alley - The Movie!
Want to make a small fortune in videography? Start with a large fortune!


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
Plus Member Moderator

Sounds as if the woman in the tight bikini might have an idea where the doughnut shop is :-)

I get all the footage or photos I need, simply by asking interesting subjects in public places for permission (BEFORE the fact) if I can videotape or photograph them, and I usually keep a basic model release form handy for them to sign.

Somewhile back, during a visit to San Francisco, I was on a faces kick, and wanted, or thought I did, to maybe create a coffee table photography book (been done before, but not with MY subjects, POVs, artistry, yada, yada...) of interesting (subjective) faces for it. I came up with all the material I could want but the project didn't pan out - long story short they were flattered, didn't request compensation, and after reading the simple release form usually signed it without hesitation.

A few pulled the hands-in-the-face routine, while others were not necessarily friendly or nice, but didn't pull a Mel Gibson on me either. It IS better to be safe, but if you can defend yourself physically shoot all you want in public places.


Artook's picture
Last seen: 4 years 11 months ago
Joined: 05/19/2009 - 9:12pm

You are right peachy.I do beach shooting every day on public property.

If a person is upset about it too bad for them.I, like you have the right too

film them like it or not. A person may threaten too call the police but a normal

response here is go right ahead I've done nothing wrong.

As long as you know the property you are on.You will have no troubles.

If I can do it like this now. Wait till I learn what i'm doing.


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
Plus Member Moderator

Sadly, however, it simply isn't always going to be THAT simple Artook. Being on the right side of the rules or laws isn't necessarily going to protect you under some circumstances. Like I said, if you are capable of defending yourself, stand your ground. If you have doubts...

...I mean there are people now days who'd just as soon shoot you as to look at you. Depending on how badly a person is foaming at the mouth it is sometimes best to just walk away.


D0n
D0n's picture
Last seen: 2 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

Just start yelling "Somebody call the police, I accidentally just filmed this prostitute making business deals, and now I'm being threatened... then ask her calmly if SHE likes being falsely accused...."


jimcvideo's picture
Last seen: 5 years 3 days ago
Joined: 04/15/2009 - 1:39pm

Earl makes a great point. Having the right to shoot doesn't always mean it's the right course of action.

I'm one of those "win more flies with honey" types. On the very rare occasion, I have had somebody question me about shooting in public. Okay, it only happened one time, as I was shooting a subway station in New York. Just getting a wide scenery shot, and this lady asks me why I'm filming her. So instead of getting all defensive about my right to shoot in public, I asked her if she had ever done any acting, and I proceeded to lay on the schmooze extra thick-like. I whipped out a business card for our production studio, and told her we were scouting out the location for a potential film we're putting together. I then told her that if she was interested, we could do a quick screen test and I'd make sure my superiors got that along with the scouting footage. At this point I expected her to just take off, but she said "sure, why not?"! So, I was going to need a new MetroPass card soon anyhow, so I gave her some cash, and we shot a sequence of her buying a pass, going through the turnstyles, and getting on the train. I got her info and told her that I'd pass it on to the higher ups.

So, most of what I told her was pure flattery and unadulterated falsehood, but it worked. Instead of creating a scene because I was filming, she um, well, created a scene FOR my filming. Of course, having our business cards and a $3000 camera lent to my credibility - I think had I been using a consumer handycam I would've been more hard pressed to get her to swallow that pill. My only regret was not having her sign a release form. It was actually a really neat sequence, and had I gotten her release, I almost certainly could have used it for something. I did use it in the vacation video we shared with friends and family, but without that release, you can't do anything public without risking getting in trouble.


Chris Harmon's picture
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 05/10/2007 - 12:04pm

I just want to say thanks to all for the great responses. The woman was just so ugly about it, and in my face so fast that it took me by surprise.


Jennifer O'Rourke's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 6 days ago
Joined: 03/07/2008 - 10:44pm
Plus Member

All this is really good advice, I'd just like to add that the rules WILL change if you're shooting children. Please be careful when video-taping children, you can easily be picked up and run through the legal ringer and possibly worse if your subjects are children in various stages of skimpy swim-suit or undressed. I once did a news story on a guy who was arrested for video-taping kids at the out-door shower at a public beach as they attempted to clean the sand from their swim-suits. He thoguth it was cute, a mother [and cop] who saw him didn't. He was arrested, his tape scrutinized in court, he was labled a pedophile and had to register as a sex offender.

Managing Editor jorourke@videomaker.com VM Customer Support: 1-800-284-3226


zoobie's picture
Last seen: 6 years 1 month ago
Joined: 03/18/2008 - 8:40am

I wanted to shoot a face-painter Sunday painting some toddlers...noticed nervous mothers hovering around...decided not to shoot...found much better subject matter the next block...would have missed it if I hadn't left the face-painter immediately...dobros are very heavy

Another world's first! - www.BuskerAlley.com - Busker HD on the web!
In Production - Busker Alley - The Movie!
Want to make a small fortune in videography? Start with a large fortune!


Chris Harmon's picture
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 05/10/2007 - 12:04pm

Videochick:

That's the cost of a society where parents have become super advocates for their coddled, spoiled brats. In understand protecting children, but if you so much as smile at a child in line at the grocery store, the parents immediately assume you have evil intentions.