Taking photos of businesses...??s

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by BWGirl, Apr 16, 2005.

  1. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Hey All!
    I wasn't really sure which topic to put this in...I realise it's not truly "Ethics & Philosophy"...so here's my question...

    I have this grand idea for a project but I am not really sure how to proceed.
    I want to take a series of photos of drive-in restaurants... there are quite a few of them 'alive & well' in Wisconsin.

    I have no idea what I will do with the photos... maybe a self-published book... but I will have to see once things get rolling. I have never undertaken anything like this, so I am not really sure how to do this.

    I figured that I would talk to the owners of the places I want to shoot to get permission and of course bring them prints... but beyond that, I am clueless... do I make up some sort of release? How do I plan this so if I do decide to publish it, it will all be ok?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    This is not another sneaky idea on how to have fun is it? The best idea would be to get model releases from the property owner. Might be hard to do. If any recognizable people are in the photos then releases would also be a good idea. The fact that you have used someone's image, or their property's image without permission may well not subject you to any penalty in case of being sued...none of which, however, does anything to reduce your legal bills

    If you are taking these photos for journalistic purposes to be published in the newpaper that will afford you goodly measure of protection.

    For most purposes the first amendment allows, except for national security or when signs are posted not allowing it, you extremely broad rights to photograph people and places for viewing the photos in the privacy of your home wheter they like it or not.

    If I am on a public sidewalk and I am not impeding anyone from their right to use the sidewalk I can, with very few exceptions indeed photograph at will both people as well as places. Troubles of a legal nature arise only when the photo is used outside your home's privacy.

    When I go out and photograph a city scene which almost always makes use of a tripod and someone asks me why I am taking a photo I tell them it is for exercise. If they question that I tell them I am exercising my first admendment rights and if they do not like it I refer them to the police department. If I am asked what my purpose in taking the photo, I tell them because I want to. If they ask me who I am with I tell them its just you and me here. All the while I clearly evince an attitude that their questions are unwelcome..the main exception to this rule is when I am approached by someone as nice as Jeanette because then it is fun..I enjoy it. Geez I can not believe I said that.

    None of the above is meant to discourage you B&W girl. You can probably do exactly what you want and have no problems whatsiever.
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Sounds like a fun project. Shoot 'em before they 'doze 'em.

    While you might get by without any "documentation", you'll have greater flexibility if you can obtain model releases from any people appearing in the images, and a "property release" from the building owner. Forms for both, along with excellent explanations of their use, are available on the Photo District News site (www.pdnonline.com). Look under the Resources->Business Resrources menu item. Until recently, the info was free, but it appears they are now selling it. Probably worth the $7, though.
     
  4. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Jeanette do I detect a good excuse for shopping here as well? :wink: Happily the laws are different over here so I can't help you but good luck with the project :D
     
  5. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I don't think that you would have a problem getting releases from the drive-in owners, regardless of your possible intent to publish a book. They would probably love the exposure. As far as the people are concerned, if a waitress is seen, get that release, but otherwise don't worry about people in cars unless it's a close shot. You probably won't see them. You might have to change license plates numbers, but that's about it. I'd pickup some close shots of the food being delivered and I'd get those release's. In the video business I know producers who give a $1 for the release. It's just for the exchange and making sure someone doesn't come back on you. Overall I think it's a great idea. I remember the drive-in's when I lived outside Chicago. I'd also explore the subject with a behind the scene viewpoint as well.
     
  6. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    just poke a search like
    "model release" property
    into google and you'll find plenty of forms and/or templates for forms. Customize them as you see fit...
     
  7. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    If the photographs are being used in an art context only--exhibition or a book--then no model releases are needed. If they will be used in advertising or in any commercial way, then indeed model releases must be obtained. It probably can't hurt to get a relaease if you are doing a portrait and the photograph is obviously about that person. But if there is simpley someone in the scene you needn't bother. Iin order for someone to sue you they have to show harm. Just having their picture in an art book does not cause anyone harm unless you are showing them in an uncomplimentary way.

    BackStreetBooks, our other publishing company (besides Lodima Press) is about to release a book about demolition derby. There are many portraits and no model releases. We feel confident that none are needed.
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I wish there was some way to place all of the necessary information about Model and Property Releases into bite-sized little nutshells.
    I have the good fortune of having a daughter who has extensive experience as a Legal Secretary in a firm representing a LARGE Catalog mail-order business. A good chunk of their legal work involved "Model" and "Property" releases, so she was intimately familiar with "What really happens" in Court.

    Essentially, there is one central rule - the idea that one must act "In Good Faith".

    There is a classic case, where a model posed for a session where she thought that the images were to be used in advertising for Beds/ Bedding/ Mattresses ... and the like. She was paid, reasonably, for that type of work. She signed a *very good* model release - one that would, by itself, stand up in Court.
    Three or four months later, she visited a Video Rental place, and found her image on the jacket of a wildly pornographic video tape.
    She sued, claiming a violation of "Good Faith".... and prevailed easily - Model Release notwithstanding, winning a sizable judgement.

    Be very careful of "Cookie Cutter" Model Releases. My daughter reviewed a number of them, and none - not one - would last more than ten seconds in Court. The most common defect is the language that states "This work may be used for any purpose whatever, no matter if it degrades the model, causes great harm, or ridicule, or pain and suffering - or is illegal ...". That is evidence of a contemplated future "Breach of Good Faith". Simply, no contract can ever override the idea of "Good Faith".

    I would strongly suggest one book ... "The Professional Photographer's Survival Guide", by Charles E. Rotkin (ISBN 0-89879-554-0). This is written by a true Professional who has been "up, down, over and under the hill" - many times.
    My copy is a little dated now.. but most of the ideas and principles remain the same.

    BTW- The First Amendment to the Constitution has been tried and tested - It does provide the News Media with protection of "Free Speech" ... but does not extend to all publishing, and Gallery Exhibition is one example of Publishing. It would surprise me to find any publisher who would even consider work without attending Model Releases
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    check out kevin bjork's site/s (photopermit.org ) he might have more information on the subject.

    i have done kind of what you are doing here in rhode island/massachusetts. usually business owners are flattered that someone cares enough to photograph their business and i usually just drop off a print as a "thank you" ... releases are a nice formality, and worth the effort, especially if you are going to publish.

    i have also done similar things, without approaching the business owners, (when i worked for a newspaper.) even though i was within my rights to photograph from the street/public way &C &C, i was often harrassed by security officers and the police ...

    i would imagine you won't have the same trouble jeanette ---unless you are REALLY a male of near-eastern extraction ( like me ) and this whole midwestern thing is just a cover :smile:

    after all no one knows who you really are on the internet <g>

    those drive ins are a dying breed --- you might consider connecting yourself in with a local historic agency to help smooth things over. they probably can get you some sort of a block grant to cover your expenses - check with the local planning departments.

    good luck!

    -john
     
  10. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Hey John....I thought that I would bring them a set of prints as "payment" (same for any carhops that may get into the photos).

    I really, truly am a midwestern female! :wink: Born in Michigan, moved to Wisconsin. haha :D

    Hm... hadn't thought about grants or anything like that!

    Ed - great advice, thanks for the book reference.

    Thanks to everyone for helping me out here. This is a new facet of things that is out of my realm of 'photo reality'! A really appreciate all the advice & input! :smile:
     
  11. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    A lot depends on where you shoot the drive-in from. A case back several years ago upheld the photographers right to take pictures of buildings if that picture was taken from public property, ie a road, or sidewalk. It was the case that involved the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For good will purposes I would talk to the owner, and still offer them prints. It keeps everyone happy.
     
  12. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I'd also advise getting the property releases - and agree with Ed about the necessity of good faith. (You folks keep making me dust off the law degree I try to forget).

    Another problem thrown up (and I believe this was the argument in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame case) is a claim by building owners that they have a copyright ownership in the building. In the U.S. 17 U.S.C. 120 specifically denies that claim -

    (a) Pictorial Representations Permitted. — The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

    I'd keep that in mind in case adjoining property owners tried to complain.
    juan
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    you can find out if any grant money is there for the taking at your planning department. ask if the town/city is a CLG ( certified local government ) if so, they might give you matching funds considering you are doing a documentation of a historic structure &C ...