Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Public Photography & Girls by the Water

Last August Ron and I went to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park for our anniversary (he surprised me, and I didn't know where we were headed until we exited onto the East Beltline). Of course I had the camera with me and we wandered around in the blazing heat and I took plenty of photos. I was very pregnant, wearing a thick compression stocking, and sweating like crazy. We stopped at a nice pond with waterfalls and plenty of fish and plantlife to sit and rest. We were both desperately thirsty, and I was so hot I felt like jumping right in!

So, please read this carefully because I am going to post something very unusual and people might think I am crazy, but this is ultimately an attempt to do something nice for someone, and I hope it's not misconstrued in any way... I can understand if this is viewed as unprofessional as a photographer, but in this situation I am not posting this as a "professional photographer" (note: I would never, without permission, post this photo in a gallery on my photography site, which would be illegal), I am posting this as a visitor to the park who happened to take a nice picture, just like anybody else. I am not trying to plug business by posting this, although I did put a watermark on the picture to prevent anyone from taking it and making prints, since it is still my work, professional or not. Legally speaking, it is perfectly okay to take photos of people in public places (except restrooms and dressing rooms), including minor children, without consent, and without a model release - as long as that photo is for editorial purposes and not as commercial advertisement (which is also why I did not put my "logo" watermark on this photo). The two questions that need to be addressed are 1) may I take the photo and 2) what am I going to do with it. These two questions are what matters in any situation where photos are taken of people in public places. If I used a person's image to sell a good or service (as in an ad for an amusement park) it is not okay. If a person's face is seen in an "artistic" or editorial work, I may in fact sell it for profit, like in a gallery. This happens all the time in street photography and photojournalism. Yes, I looked into this before putting a photo of someone's kids on my blog. Finding this photo on our hard drive ended up being very educational for me! I'm glad I understand the law better, because I can see myself, for fun or as artistic exercise, taking photos in public places a lot more this year. That being said...

While sitting there we looked over and saw these two girls standing on the edge of the pond. I know it might be sketchy to admit this, but I couldn't resist snapping a photo. I figured I would be the only one to see it anyway, and it was more as an experiment. I never really gave it a second thought. However, as I was just going through old random pictures and cleaning up some folders, I came across it again. I decided that I want to share it, as a very futile effort to find out who these kids are, so I can e-mail the file to their mom, or moms (I don't know if they are sisters or friends), or even have a print made. It's likely this photo will never find the rightful owner, but who knows. If you know who these girls are, or if these are your girls, please forgive me for taking their picture without permission. They looked so cute and summery by the water, and it's truly a candid moment of childhood. I was practicing with a new lens and ended up with something that I think is special... I'm usually not one to say my work is that outstanding, but this was one of those photos that made me pause and take a second look, there is something so timeless about it. If I were these girls' mom, I would want a copy.

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