What about a parade for example? The people have no ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ as they are IN a parade, right? I have some really nice photos of the children’s parade that I’d love to use.
Great question, thanks for asking. I like that you are making this class personal.
Short Answer – Yes, if you are going to use the image for commercial purposes. No, if you are going to use the image for editorial purposes… but if the image involves a kid, there are limitations in editorial use.
Long, more thorough answer: First, you must consider which country you are taking you images in. If you are traveling to a different country, be sure you know the expectations of privacy where photography is concerned for that country. If anyone knows about certain laws for a specific country that are different than I am about to explain below, please speak up.
As I am guessing you are talking about a parade that occurred in the United States, I will let you know what you can do with your images as far as stock photography is concerned.
Anyone out in public, whether you are in a parade or walking on a public sidewalk, the reasonable expectation of privacy is expected in bathrooms, changing rooms, security points, and the like. Beyond that, and provided your subject is on PUBLIC property, you are permitted to photograph them.
Now, I want to caution you, just because you are allowed to photograph a person, do not drop your code of ethics. Sometimes, it is best to put the camera down and let a person be. Listen to your inner voice and not your ego in these cases. The world won’t stop if you choose to pass up a great image out of respect for another.
So, we have established people in public areas (barring areas of expected privacy) can be photographed. The model release allows you to do more with the image than you can do without it. You may upload a photo to a stock house of anyone that is photographed legally in public, but unless you have a signed model release for that day’s shot, you may only submit the image for editorial purposes. It will not be accepted for commercial purposes.
For example: A lady is walking down a public street drinking a dark beverage in a clear, plastic container. The container has ice in it and is perspiring. The lady is perspiring too. To top the image off, there is great light that is shining through the beverage. If this image was used as an editorial image to talk about the heat of the day, this woman is not being a spokesperson for the heat. If this image was used as an advertisement for a drug rehabilitation clinic where the ad suggest she is nursing a Jack Daniels(TM) and Coke(TM) to stave off DTs, then the ad could be considered slanderous to this lady. She could come back and sue the ad company that created the ad, they would sue the stockhouse that gave her the image The stockhouse is not going to risk this. They require that all images that have identifiable people have signed model releases. If you told that stockhouse that you DID have a signed model release from the lady, then you best have one for that day’s shoot. If not, the stockhouse could come back and sue you.
Now let’s change the story. Let’s say Coca Cola(TM) uses the image for an ad. There is nothing slanderous going on. In fact the ad state how beautiful and wise that woman is for choosing Coke(TM) on such a sweltering day. Even if the brown liquid was Coke(TM) and the lady LOVES Coke(TM), she could still come back and sue Coke(TM) and Coke’s(TM) ad agency. Her likeness has now become a spokesperson for Coke(TM)… only she has not agreed to be a spokesperson. She may be a person in hiding, thought to be dead and now her likeness is slapped on the sides of buses and billboards. She may just be a private individual. She may be a person that likes to sue people or has relatives that convince her to sue. She could be desperate and in need of the money. There could be any number of scenarios that could bring your image of her to litigation. If you have a signed model release for this day’s shoot, then she does not have a strong case.
In short – No release means that the image will not be accepted by a stockhouse for commercial purposes.
One quick word on photographing children for stock. If the image is of a single child, most stockhouses will not accept the image for editorial purposes. They will need multiple children in the image to be acceptable. Also, for commercial purposes, the legal guardian must be the signer of a minor’s model release form. It is wise to get both parents to sign when possible. Remember, people can sue for any reason. You want to set yourself up so that you have a strong case should you need to go to court.
Whew, that was a lot. Thanks for hanging in there.