Photographers are free to take photos of people. There is no legal requirement to obtain authorization to take a photograph of someone. There are situations where photography can infringe on social interests such as national security, protection of children and right of privacy. Photographs of people may amount to misrepresenting the truth. The way the image is used may give right to legal action.

Always lookout for people wearing or holding something that has copyright, trademark or industrial design rights:

  • Clothing (e.g. which contains logos, slogans or images)
  • Accessories (e.g. caps, socks, wrist bands, sunglasses)
  • Jewelry
  • Shoes (which contains logos or slogans)
  • Sport Equipment (e.g. holding a Rugby ball, Tennis racket or Golf bag)
  • Technology (e.g. holding a cellphone, iPad, notebook)

When you take a photo of someone, the following rights come into play:

  • Freedom of expression
  • The right to privacy

Photographers may not intentionally intrude upon someone’s private domain. You can photograph someone in a public place but you cannot photograph people inside their house, business or other private areas if you entered under false pretense or to set-up hidden cameras. Do not publish or distribute any photos that reveal private affairs of a person, especially if the matter would be highly offensive, and is not of concern to the public. Photographs revealing criminal records, certain diseases, psychological problems, sexual affairs, private debts, etc. are likely to violate privacy rights.

Many laws do not protect private matters if they are in public view, but there are situations where photographers should consider refraining from photographing people, even if it would be legal. The best way to protect yourself is to obtain written permission from the person you want to photograph. The right of publicity is the direct opposite of the right of privacy.

Under this right, you could be liable if you use a photograph of someone without their consent to gain some commercial benefit. Generally your right to privacy ends when you die, but the publicity rights continue many years after death. You should still get permission to use photographs of people who died like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse, but still have right of publicity. Do not use a photograph of a person in an advertisement to sell products or promote services without getting permission.