• Herson Guerrero

Finding Balance Between Photography and the Law.

Photography and Law have more in common than people think, it is ever changing in a fast paced environment making people exposed to have their rights infringed.



As some may know I've been a photographer for over 15 years and have had a passionate interest for law as well. As a lawyer and an artist I have found that as technology and social media advance day by day people are not oriented towards knowing what or when to photograph, or what happens with your image once published in social media.

“There is a huge difference between taking pictures in a public place or private property, and there is more uncertainty as laws and courts interpret case by case on a daily basis as social media instantly spreads and drones fly through the sky - there is a novelty to a certain degree.”

A lot comes into play when it comes to photography and law. Privacy Rights, Intellectual Property, Commercial Use and each one has legal consequences, but in the latter gives rights to the person taking the picture as well as the person whom has his or her picture taken.


Interesting Facts

There's been a wide range of legislation as law makers debate the different methods of scrutiny certain types of photographers face when dealing with certain aspects of the law. For example street photographers don't necessarily ask for permission when taking a picture, because they mostly take pictures in "streets"meaning public places. It all comes down to what happens with the image after its taken, what purpose does it undertake, is it used for financial gain, portfolio, social media? Even buildings have rights; the Eiffel Tower for example has rights and it would be illegal to take pictures of it under a certain time frame, yet each jurisdiction has its set of rules, and things get tricky along the way.


There is a huge difference between taking pictures in a public place or private property, and there is more uncertainty as laws and courts interpret case by case on a daily basis as social media instantly spreads and drones fly through the sky- there is a novelty to a certain degree. There are different scenarios and different circumstances which gives the latter to one party over the other.


As crazy at it may seem, there is a case about a photographer that was interacting with monkeys, a monkey took his camera and took a selfie. The photographer went viral because of the perfectly timed and posed picture of the monkey, and it didn't take long before animal rights activists and other organizations made legal claims against the photographer. One one side they argued the picture wasn't his, as he did not take the photograph, and on the other side the photographer argued that the photograph did belong to him because it was his camera and if he weren't there, the picture would've not been taken in the first place. This case had rigid litigation and marked a very important legal precedent between photography and the law. Guess who won.



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