Lukabrazzi 2011-01-18 06:51:45
I need a photograph of a suburban street with several houses. I intend to paint one house out of the photo and replace it with a different object, but the rest of the houses would remain in the picture. I have no budget for stock photography and would need to take the photos locally myself. My question is: do I need to obtain permission from the homeowners to use an image of their home in my work? Obviously, I would paint out any names, mailbox numbers or other identifying characteristics.
This is for a New York State government mailing and will be distributed heavily (a couple million), so it will very possibly show up in the mailboxes of any homes that I shoot. If these folks pull a mailer out of their box and see their own home on the front am I (or New York State) going to be liable for anything?
Considering some of the paparazzi work I’ve seen published lately it seems like a stupid question, but then again it’s a stupid world.
Anyone know for sure how I should handle this? Thanks in advance for any help!
Lukabrazzi 2011-01-18 06:51:59
Thanks, Neil. As always, I appreciate your input.
Basically, what I have in mind doesn’t showcase any single property but is intended to be more of a generic suburban street. The home that would be the focus point of the shot would be eliminated via Photoshop and replaced with a house-of-cards that I created and shot in-studio. Any other houses in the image would be more or less incidental and any identifying characteristics would be wiped out. There’s nothing positive or negative implied about the houses themselves.
I’m beginning to think the answer may be to just take the shots I need and disguise the homes by alterating them until they’re no longer recognizable. Remove a tree, add a bush, eliminate a window, change the color, etc… A pain but it’d probably work.
Still soliciting more advice if anyone else has any!
Neil_keller 2011-01-18 06:52:01
If in doubt, check with an intellectual property attorney — or just ring the doorbell and ask.
Neil_keller 2011-01-18 06:52:03
In these issues, I like to err on the side of caution. No need for a big bucks lawsuit to blindside you or your employer.
John_danek 2011-01-18 06:52:05
I recently did a street scene shot, but didn’t ask for permission because the whole project was to boost chamber of commerce membership on a small scale basis. I used the pics as templates and redrew the buildings as vector artwork. I did a door-to-door and explained what I was up to, long story short, they went along with it because the whole campaign was a boost in publicity for each business. Your situation is a little different and a little the same. Sounds like you’re going to do a block or two of homes on a street. I agree with Neil, get permission ( use a legal pad to get signatures and leave them with a brief of what you’re up to and a phone number if they have questions ). By the time you’d be done mofifying the pic beyond recognition, it’d be cheaper to buy a stock pic. If you explain to them all numbers and names will be removed, then they may sign-on. Worse case, they tell you to take a flyin’ leap, then you’ll end up going stock any way. Check with some local photographers and see if they have anything they’ve shot in the past that you could use, they may be a little cheaper than your average stock shop. Or not.
Rob_hecker. 2011-01-18 06:52:07
You should have asked this on the photography forum. However you might not have gotten any more expert advise there, as your question is legal, not photographic.
That being said, and myself not being a lawyer, I am certain that taking photos of private property from a neutral location, such as a street, is not an issue, and you can do it even if the property owner is hostile. You can even use it in advertising if there are no recognition and endorsement issues. An architect does retain intellectual ownership which can affect photographs of the architecture, but you are not likely to run into that problem when photographing a neighborhood, and in such a case the property owner s permission would mean nothing.
I use photographs of people and property in lots of my ads. I ALWAYS get very clear written permission when photographing people for ads, but I often seek just a friendly verbal permission when photographing property, just because I don t want the property owner to be taken aback when they discover their house in an ad. Most of the time people are extremely flattered that you want to photograph their property and if you told them that the permission contract needs to be signed in blood, they would dash to the house to get an exacto knife.
Lukabrazzi 2011-01-18 06:54:30
All good advice. Thanks, everyone. I appreciate it as always!
Mombu 2011-01-22 12:45:16
see this link:
Lukabrazzi 2011-01-30 06:00:26
Excellent article, Al. Very helpful. Thanks!
Neil_keller 2011-02-01 14:51:07
You don’t need permission to photograph a public building from inside
However, in today’s post-9/11 world, there may be security restrictions that could prevent you from walking out of that building with camera, memory card or film intact.