Outdoor Portraits & The Law

Shooting portraits outdoors mean you’re going to have to be creative about where and when you shoot and look for places that will accommodate to your—and your subject’s photographic requirements but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter problems.

Shooting anything in post-911 America has made many people, especially those wearing badges, sensitive about photography and sometimes they can overreact to what is really a harmless situation. I was shooting a portrait of a fully clothed model outside of a county office building and after ten minutes a polite Sheriff’s deputy asked us to move along because we were “disturbing people working in the building.”I suppose that could be true (or not.) We managed to get twenty-two shots and while I would have liked to have made more images, I agreed to leave. My personal rule is never argue with anyone who carries a gun.

This is one of the photographs that got the sheriff’s deputy attention who asked us to leave. Unfortunately, I never got the shot that I was trying for but this one pose is close to and gives you some idea of what I was going after—black dress, white building. It was shot with Canon EOS 60D and EF 22-55mm lens with as exposure of 1/200 sec at f/11 and ISO 100. A 550EX speedlite was use as fill. An interesting PS is that we moved two blocks away to a city-owned building were she posed on a ledge just outside the Court Bailiff’s office. Nobody said a thing but is was such a public space space that we had lots pf comments from the Peanut Gallery.

What are your rights under these kind of situations? Bert P. Krages II attorney-at-law has developed a one-page flyer containing information on what your rights are when stopped and confronted by authorities. As the author of Legal Handbook for Photographers. Mr. Krages is knowledgeable about photographer’s rights and I would like to thank him for producing a document that explains your rights and legal remedies if harassed but more importantly how to handle these kinds of confrontations. Print a copy and keep it in your camera bag—just in case.

Author: Joe Farace

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