Legal Rights for Photographers (Video)

May 7, 2015

Topic: Contracts, Releases
Time Investment: 5 Minutes
Suggested Product: All-in-One Contract Bundles


Where can I shoot from? What are my rights?  

Have no fear!

TheLawTog is here with this quick reference video for you!


Running a photography business is very overwhelming. Knowing how to photograph is only a sliver of it. Knowing how to set up and pay your taxes and adhere to all the laws is a whole other thing.


So I want to walk you through a little bit of knowing your rights as a photographer. One thing I want to preface this with saying is that all the little things that I go over here do not necessarily mean that you are in the right. If you’re breaking another law during the course of the activity, just because a part of it may be right, but you’re doing another thing illegal, you still do not get a break from the other law that you’re breaking.


Private Property

So let’s go over first private property. You’re photographing on private property; it’s pretty clear-cut. The property owner may have set rules about taking of photographs and what you can do on the property. It’s always important to talk to the private property owner ahead of time to know these rules so there are no issues. Always use something like a property use form that outlines this and shows that you have physical proof of being able to be and photograph on their land, this will help to clear any miscommunications that may arise and set the expectations between the both of you and the property owner.

But one thing to keep in mind is that if you break their rules or at any time they decide they don’t want you on their property anymore, you have to comply; if you don’t, you can be prosecuted as a trespasser. That does no good for you or your clients if they’re there with you. It’s always best to have communications with private property owners ahead of time so that you know that what you can do and can’t do in the course of being on their property.


Public Place

Being in a public place is pretty clear-cut. If you are standing in a public space where you’re lawfully able to be, you have the right to photograph anything that’s in plain view. This can be federal buildings, police, law enforcement, transportation facilities, anything at all, but you have to consider, and I want you to keep in mind that if you are approached by law enforcement, police officers cannot confiscate or demand to view your digital photographs without a warrant. While you may want to comply so there’s not an issue, but keep in mind that you don’t have to. And you also have to consider that police cannot delete your photographs or video under any circumstances, if you are lawfully in a public space. I want you to keep this in mind so if you’re out shooting and run into an issue, you can stand firm on your rights as a photographer, but keep in mind, it is always best to be able to do it in a calm and orderly manner. Again, you’re not exempt from other laws and required conduct of citizens in society simply because you were doing a correction action at the time. Any subsequent actions or other breaking of other laws are not excused simply because your initial act was lawful.


So that was just a quick overview of legal rights that photographers have when you’re out shooting in spaces, public or private.

Jot these down, keep this in mind, just in case you ever encounter an issue when you’re out shooting. 



Explore more