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Old Oct 16, 2010, 6:55 PM   #1
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Default A question of etiquette

Went out to lunch this afternoon at a little town close by and they were having an art fair just up the street from the restaurant. Painters, sculptors, glass works, jewelery, and yes photographers of various sorts. I had my E-PL1 with me, but I purposely didn't take many pictures, as I knew artists could sometimes get touchy about pictures of their work (I did take a few of the larger and more ostentatious sculptures). There were a few other people taking pictures, some with bigger and better kit than me, but it also seemed that they were similarly restrained.

I walked around the corner and caught part of an exchange between a glass sculptor and a photographer. The sculptor was accusing the photographer of being rude by taking pictures without asking permission, the photographer threw it right back saying the sculptor was being threatening when he said he was going to take the camera away. The photographer walked away, and it didn't seem to have escalated. We moved on, so didn't see anything else.

So what's the etiquette here? The fair was in the middle of the street that had been blocked off by the town. No signs were posted about photography (indeed, looking up the website on the informational flyer, they have a pictures of the fair section). The photographer in question did have more than your average Joe. I couldn't tell you what it was, but it did look like a DSLR with a fairly beefy hooded lens. What would you have done if you were the photographer in question? The sculptor?
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Old Oct 16, 2010, 7:32 PM   #2
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When you are taking photos of creative work where there could possibly be a question about copyrighting, I always ask permission to take photos. In general, artists and parents with small children are a touchy/sensitive bunch, so I always stay on the safe side and ask for permission to photograph.

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Old Oct 16, 2010, 7:38 PM   #3
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Seems odd to me that someone would exhibit his work in a public place, and then object to having it photographed. I would probably have asked, and gotten his name in order to credit the work, in case I published the photo. The photographer probably could have been more diplomatic, but (in the U.S.) has the law on his side.

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Old Oct 16, 2010, 7:38 PM   #4
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I agree with Sarah.

It's very easy to ask for permission. When you give them that courtesy, often they will allow you to take photos. Its often nice to offer to take some photos with them and their artwork together first, which they often enjoy doing, as it associates them with their work etc.
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Old Oct 16, 2010, 7:40 PM   #5
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There's no copyright issue in public. But that doesn't mean you can't respect how other people feel. Just because you CAN take photos, doesn't always mean you should. For example, I was down in Amish area of the state a few weeks back. It is perfectly legal to take photos of Amish people in public but they don't like it - so I respect their wishes. It's just common decency. It's not such a terrible thing to not take some photos when people would prefer you don't. But, technically speaking the artists have no legal leg to stand on.
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Old Oct 16, 2010, 10:51 PM   #6
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When I go to arts fairs and street shows and pow-wows with arts/crafts displays, I shoot all I can -- with a Zenitar 16/2.8 on my K20D. I've been challenged a couple times, so I just activate the chimp screen and show that I've captured a wide swathe of stuff and passersby with no detailed grab of their work. They cool right off.

The legalities in these situations are pretty clear: in public space there is no privacy; in private space, restrictions can apply. The ethics are whatever you want to make of them. You get to decide: Are public displays of arts/crafts different than other public situations? How much do you really want these shots? Can/will you talk your way into being invited/tolerated to shoot? Will you ever encounter any of these people again?
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Old Oct 17, 2010, 3:33 AM   #7
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When you're at a craft fair, you're usually dealing with the crafts-person themselves. Being arty, they are sensitive. And individual. Some might think you're planning to dupe their work. Some might think you're rude. some won't mind. and some will be pleased that you like their stuff.

who knows? i may stop at a booth, chat them up a bit and then ask if it's ok if i take a few pictures. but after a couple of booths, this just chews up my time. so what i usually do is walk along with the light behind me, zoom on the camera, stop-take picture-move on. i don't make eye-contact with the booth operator. i look at my lcd screen as i start to go.

the problem is your kit. if you had a small crappy p&s, they wouldn't care. but somehow a large dslr, especially with a flash attached, looks like SOMETHING-IS-GOING-ON! They feel intimidated and respond to that feeling. That's people.

No real solution except talk more. A wing-man (woman) would help.
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Old Oct 17, 2010, 11:28 AM   #8
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Its public place but maybe they should have said do you mind, it would have been polite.
I had a prob today I was taking a picture of a statue and a little boy ran up to it. Looked for parents but none to be seen. Had to delete it he was blurred, maybe they should apologised to me lol.
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Old Oct 17, 2010, 2:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
Seems odd to me that someone would exhibit his work in a public place, and then object to having it photographed.
I second that...it's ridiculous ! Public space is not like a museum, where taking photos is forbidden...
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Old Oct 17, 2010, 2:51 PM   #10
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I would ask politely first.
My sister is an amazing artist and makes incredible creations from anything she works on. She's not great with people and is very sensitive about her work.
She would feel uneasy about people taking pictures, I know. But she wouldn't open herself up to that and would pay someone with better social skills to front the stall, and they wouldn't care.
The amount of effort and creativity gone into the work makes it a part of the person so very personal. I'm sure there are really chilled Artists as there will be very sensitive fiery ones.

I would ask as I wouldn't know what goes on in the mind of the creator and if i didn't ask and they lost it I would not feel immediately justified in my defense. But I guess I am a bit cranky so consider others the same.
For me I like to treat everyone the way I like to be treated myself and think people can easilly take something the wrong way, I would also weigh up there body language etc If they looked psychotic id consider it not worth while asking. lot of waffle from me.
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