When is a Crowd Release Notice needed?

When is a Crowd Release Notice needed?

When is a Crowd Release Notice needed?


Photographing in a public venue can seem like fair game for photographers, but it gets tricky when there could be potential claims by the individuals photographed EVEN IF they had no expectation of privacy in the area.  What happens when you’re using commercially or the individual wants to be compensated? This is where crowd release notices that are either placed in to

This is where crowd release notices that are either placed in to the terms of a ticket sale, registration confirmation or posted at the event can work in the favor of the photographer.  Let’s go through names, likeness, the notices and some top questions to help acquaint you with this unarguably grey area of law.


Name & Likeness Guidelines

Consent is typically not needed to use an individual’s image or likeness that is not recognizable or identifiable.  However, should they be recognizable or identifiable and to be used in a promotional or commercial nature, a written release is typically needed.  

This gets tricky in an environment of a large event when releases are generally not required from people who may be recognizable or identifiable in a street or public place provided that the individuals are not the focus of the photograph and photograph is reasonably related to subject matter.  

All of that being said, while a release or a notice may not be required, the use of a crowd release notice may be added protection for your photography.


What is a crowd release notice?

This is a notice posted at a venue that (should) work to put the individuals in the area on notice of the following:

  • they may be photographed or otherwise recorded
  • images with them in it may be used in specific manners (many notices are written generally for irrevocable worldwide use in perpetuity)
  • release of claims for compensation by the individual


Why is this notice needed if there is no right to privacy?

While entering into a public venue often brings with it no expectation of privacy.  However, having a notice within a registration form, terms of purchase or posted at an event can add an extra layer of protection.

 Obviously, a large event with many guests would be difficult for the photographer to acquire a release from each, therefore, having this notice in these methods works to eliminate the claim by the individual in the image that they had no notice of these actions and possible use of likeness.


Does the crowd release notice release other parties?

NO. The crowd release notice would only release the photographer for the event and would not release a third-party who has snapped an image of another.


Feel free to comment with questions/comments – I will update this article as more come in!


Newly Released: Crowd Release Notice

Newly Released: Crowd Release Notice

Newly Released: Crowd Release Notice

Are you hosting an event and will have photography/videographing happening?  Make sure you post this sign to put your attendees on notice.

Or… are you a photographer hired to do the event?  Here is a sign that the venue and/or host can use to put attendees on notice of your hire.

This sign is intended to be posted at events or in areas with crowds to inform that photography and/or videography will be taking place.  This notice puts the attendees on notice that they may be filmed, recorded or photographed and all that the media. 


Check it out here

5 Legal Potholes Photographers Can Avoid (but don’t!)

5 Legal Potholes Photographers Can Avoid - But don't!

5 Legal Potholes Photographers Can Avoid - But don't!Don’t hit that pothole.

Trust me, I did it a few weeks ago.  

Ended up with two flat tires, two broken rims, and my car in the shop for a week. This led to not only the stress of being on the side of the road with three kids trying to call a tow truck, but without our vehicle for a week and extra costs of a rental vehicle.  I didn’t even mention the stress caused and extra money the insurance didn’t cover.  All because I didn’t see the pothole.  I drive that road every day, I should’ve known better. I KNEW it was there. But I was focused on speed and other cars on the road. 

All because I didn’t see the pothole.  I drive that road every day, I should’ve known better. I KNEW it was there. But I was focused on speed and other cars on the road. 

Don’t do this in your business.

Many think that contracts, by themselves, will protect from legal potholes. Yes, contracts are a great way to set expectations, forms the legal relationship, and protect your photography business and I find that many photographers in the industry understand their value and have implemented in their business.  But they are not the be-all and end-all for protection. 

There are some top legal potholes of running a photography business that may be completely overlooked and may cost you time, money and potentially your business if not paid attention to before an issue arises.


#1 Business Prevention (Contingency Plans)

Could you be in danger of losing it all?


Death. Divorce. Disability. Dissolution.

Do you ever think about what would happen to your business if there was an emergency? If you or your spouse got sick? If there was an earthquake, flood or fire? If you or your husband died unexpectedly? If your family declared bankruptcy? If you needed to take a leave of absence to take care of your parents?

Just because you know all the ins and outs of running your business does not mean that’s the best move for the future. You need to be set up in case anything keeps you from doing that—today, or you run the risk of it all coming to a full stop.

That’s less money and more stress at home.

:: That’s an inbox that piles up with unanswered inquiries.

:: That’s clients who can’t get their unedited session photos.

:: That’s bills that go unpaid.


How do you prepare for the worst so your business can run at its best?

It only takes an instant for something to go wrong that can put your business on hold. Everything from natural disasters to medical emergencies can affect your business’s wellbeing—and the wellbeing of your family too. What will happen if you’re not able to bring in that extra income?

Unfortunately, most of the time we don’t think about setting up the simple safety nets that could make all of it much easier. 

Get your contingency plan written out and available for you (or those you choose in life) to use as a guide should something happen.  TheLawTog®’s Oh Snap kit helps to get you started on this! You can keep it all digitally, or store in a safe. (Hint: It’s recommended to have it multiple places).  


#2 Intellectual Property Defense

Protecting intellectual property is a real and serious necessity for business owners in this digital age. The idea that anything posted online is “fair game” to be used by others is the result of misconceptions and misunderstanding of intellectual property laws and respect for the creators.

Lawyer bills and anxiety rack up when you are unsure how to defend your work.  Have a Defense Kit in your arsenal of business tools to easily and affordably put out any infringement issues.  Defense kits should include documents such as DMCA take down notices (to send to the Internet Service Provider), Invoices for Commercial use, Outreach letter and Cease and Desist templates.


#3 Client Issue Tools

When a client issue arises, I see many photographers turn to Facebook groups and ask “what now?”   Having a pre-drafted template to start your communications (such as a breach of contract letter) can help you to formulate a response to clients in a more efficient, quicker and complete manner than piecing together advice from strangers on the Internet.    

Note: I’m not saying to swing at clients with legalese – having a formal letter can be a great structure for you to formulate a nicer response when trying to put out fires in your business.  The benefit to having a formalized letter is – you have it when you need it and don’t have to scramble to find an attorney or get overwhelmed and ignore the entire problem.  At TheLawTog®, I always recommend discussing person-to-person with a client before bringing in legal guns. But should you need, a Client Issue Pack can have you prepared.


#4 Date Your Attorney

Even if you have never had a need for an attorney, make sure you have a good working relationship with one just in case you do need them help you at a moments notice.  It’s easier, more effective and potentially cheaper, to have created a relationship with a local attorney to reach out to should an issue ever arise.    I find that many photographers anxiety and bills rise when they haven’t cultivated an attorney relationship prior to an issue arising.  


#5 Have YOUR OWN Understanding

Yes, a good attorney  is worth their weight in gold, however, you need to have a working understanding of all facets of your business, ESPECIALLY legal.  If you are looking to understand business formation (sole proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc), you can definitely have someone easily fill the documents out for you.  But having someone else do all the work without providing business strategic concepts for future changes leaves you in the dark.  

Business formation is not a “check the box” and never come back.  What happens if you have to move or make a change that can simply be done through filing state forms? The State is unable to provide you legal advice, and you’d be invoking another attorney bill for potentially simple questions and/or changes.

Further, you’re relying on a neutral third person with no “skin in the game” for your business to help make these strategic decisions. And unfortunately, most professionals (attorneys and CPAs) won’t provide the business strategic advice at the time you may truly need it.  Take for example, what if you choose an LLC this year, but then grow so much that you want to change over to Corporation for the tax benefits or choose an LLC with an S-Corp tax election?    The recommendations may not come around until your yearly meeting with the professional and you could have lost money at that point.

For these reasons, I do not say to get rid of an attorney or CPA, but educate yourself. You, as the business owner, have a responsibility to have your hands on these documents and how things work.    Further, having the working knowledge allows you to recognize if (hopefully not) you’ve hired a less-than-adequate professional (because let us face it, they are out there!)

BizRevamp® provides a photographer/lawyer insight into topics such as taxes, business formation, retirement, insurance, and more.  You can use this as a stand-alone education site to DIY your own business workings, or use it to prepare for when you go into an attorney.  


Newly Released: Floral Designer Contract

Floral Designer Contract

Floral Designer ContractThis lawyer-drafted contract is for use by floral designers when booking clients under a floral design services contract.

This contract covers terms including: 

  • position and services
  • retainer and booking (monies)
  • payment schedule
  • payment method
  • payment timeline
  • pricing (current, estimate and changes)
  • rentals of items
  • tear down of items
  • wedding day services
  • cancellation of event
  • rescheduling of event
  • liability
  • artistic rights
  • warranty of flowers
  • venue guidelines
  • and other legal miscellany!

Check it out here!

Exposing Risky Behavior on Railroad Tracks

RAIL SAFETY FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS | Exposing Risky Behavior on Railroad Tracks

RAIL SAFETY FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: Exposing Risky Behavior on Railroad Tracks

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t be conducting portrait sessions on or near railroad tracks. You can view our previous Rail Safety for Photographers post outlining those reasons here. These six “must-know” facts for photographers, from Operation Lifesaver, offer a great summary:

  1. Trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
  2. An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train’s distance from you—and its speed.
  3. The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet.
  4. Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and rights-of-way are private property.
  5. No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned or inactive.
  6. People mimic your behavior when they see your photos on the web and social media.


But what do you do when your client asks specifically for a railroad track session? Below are some ideas for handling a few different scenarios.


If your client wants to use railroad tracks or equipment during their photo session

Explain to the client how dangerous this practice is, and being on the tracks is trespassing and you could be fined, even after the session. If the client insists on a railroad location, you can try to contact the local railroad company to request permission to photograph on railroad property, but it is not likely permission would be granted for a portrait session. If permission is granted, you and your client will likely be required to sign a liability waiver, be accompanied by a railroad employee who knows the safety procedures, and follow the company’s normal safety procedures—which likely will be wearing of personal protective equipment, including reflective safety vests, while on railroad property.

A safer option is to photograph your client standing a safe distance off the railroad right of way with the tracks behind the client. Your best option is to find a local railroad museum or park that has static displays and permits photography sessions. Even then, I would not share the photos on your social media, website, or blog without a disclaimer stating the photos were taken at a park or museum. Better yet, just keep those photos private, between you and the client. Your work is powerful and it motivates and inspires others—let that motivation be positive and safe, and not encourage someone to put lives at risk. Publicly sharing those photos, especially without the safety disclaimer, is just not worth the firestorm that could hit. We’ve all probably seen the comments on such posts, for and against shooting on the tracks, which become unprofessional very quickly—and with many hateful things being said on both sides. Yes, this has happened to me and it’s just not worth it. Remember, people mimic our behavior, both in real life and online, and it is our professional responsibility to set a good example for our clients and the public.

Besides, the railroad track idea has been used so many times—despite the danger and illegal trespassing—that the concept has become cliché. Use your eye and professional skill to find a better approach, something that will result in a creative, original work. Your client deserves no less, after all.


If a photographer is shooting on railroad tracks

If you see another photographer taking photos on the tracks/right of way, you can do one of the following:

  • Approach the photographer. Let the photographer know that shooting on tracks is illegal (trespassing) and dangerous. Be professional and non-confrontational, especially if the client is within earshot. I have heard some railroad buffs state that they will strike up a conversation with a photographer trackside and get the photographer’s business card, or at least business name, before informing the photographer of the illegal trespassing and danger. Some railroad buffs snap a photo of the license plate of the photographer’s car whenever possible and turn this information over to local law enforcement and/or railroad police. Because many railroad buffs are well aware of the local photographers’ attitudes regarding shooting on the tracks, they may choose not to directly approach the photographer, instead going straight to the authorities with the information.
  • Contact the railroad – Go to the nearest crossing, which is required to have a sign (see image below) stating the railroad name, emergency contact phone number, and crossing identification number. Call the emergency number, give the railroad the crossing number and tell the operator there is a photographer taking portraits on the tracks near this location.
  • Contact local law enforcement – Call your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number with the location and description of the individuals involved with the photo session.
Rail Safety - RR Crossing ID/Emergency Notification Sign

RR Crossing ID/Emergency Notification Sign (image provided by Operation Lifesaver, Inc.)


If you see a photo that was taken on railroad tracks

  • Contact the photographer – Do this privately via email, Facebook message or phone. Do NOT publicly comment on the photograph, page or blog. Be non-confrontational and professional. Remember, the way you conduct yourself reflects not just on you but also on your business.
  • Contact the Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) state coordinator – Find the contact information for each OLI state coordinator here. In this scenario, the optimal contact method would be sending the state coordinator an email relating the photo(s) you have seen, the photographer or business information, and screenshot of photos. Be sure to include the name of the photographer (if you have it), business name, email address, link to their website and/or Facebook page, screenshots of the website where the photo is posted, and the direct link to the posted photo.
  • Contact the railroad – If you are able to identify the tracks in question and which railroad the tracks belong to, you can call the railroad emergency number or their railroad police. This could take some research on your part to find the correct number to call. Give as much information as you can about the photographer and photo in question. It is probable that you will be asked to contact a specific person or department via email with this information as well.
  • Contact local law enforcement – Call the non-emergency number for the law enforcement agency where the photo was taken. Again, you should have the photographer’s name and contact information.

As a professional photographer, safety for you and your clients is your top priority. You need to be responsible enough to listen to the experts, educate your clients, and set the right example for your clients, the community, and other photographers. Taking portraits on train tracks is not worth the legal and personal risk to you, your clients, and your business reputation.

For additional rail safety information and resources please visit:

Rail Safety Pinterest Board
Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
Operation Lifesaver Canada
Protect the Line
Citizens for Rail Security

See Tracks, Think Train

P.S.  Many thanks to my friends in the railroad community and Operation Lifesaver for their assistance with this important rail safety information.