Better Fuji Photos
Better Fuji Photos
May 30, 2023
Photographing People in Public: A Case Study
Play • 22 min

Better Fuji Photos Episode 20: Photographing People in Public (Case Study)

If any stranger has ever been in your camera viewfinder, I'm sure these thoughts have crossed your mind at some point: Can I photograph this person? What can I do with the photograph afterward? Is it legal? Is it ethical?

We will answer those questions in this episode via a case study, a photograph submitted by one of our listeners.

It's a photograph of a child crouched on a public street in France, focusing on something in the cracks of some paver stones. We're looking at the top of the child's head, with one side of the face marginally visible. Was it okay to capture this photograph, without permission from the parents? Is it alright to sell this photograph? Do they need to be compensated for sales?

Let's first get to the meat of the issue: the legality and ethics of photographing strangers in public. It's easiest if we break this into several steps:

  1. Is it legal to capture a photo of someone in public?
  2. What can you legally do with that photo after it's been legally captured?
  3. If it's legal, is it ethical?

The legal questions will vary by country, as each country puts different weights on the right of expression (photography) versus the right to privacy in public, though in most cases, the right to expression wins.

The ethics question is best answered using the Golden Rule: would you want to be photographed in that situation?

How do these apply to the photograph in question?

Read the article/see the photo here:

Interview with Valerie Jardin - Ethics in Street Photography:

Country-specific consent requirements table:

Learn more about considerations of photographing people in public in the Better Photography Through Visual Storytelling course, with model release downloads:

Please subscribe, rate, and review wherever you prefer to listen to your podcasts so we can keep this show going.

If you ever have any questions that you’d like to have answered in an episode, please send me an email at

End music: Dylan Sitts - Tahoe Trip

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