When I see other photographers out shooting on presumably private property I always wonder if they have permission to shoot there.

Bovine's Revenge

For this shot the barn I wanted to use was private property so; conducting myself as a professional, I found out who the owners of the property were and asked for permission before shooting. They owners were grateful that I had asked permission, they told me that there had been several times when they walked out to the barn and there were people out there taking pictures and this was an area where livestock were kept. There was another time that I really wanted to shoot in an old factory but after I contacted the owners they told me no, because of insurance reasons, they didn’t want anything to happen. So despite my desire to shoot at the old factory, I respected their choice and I have not done any shoots there.

If you are going to shoot on private property is it always professional to ask permission first and if they tell you no then respect that and shoot somewhere else. By not asking permission and not respecting the decision of the property owners you are not only showing yourself as not a professional but you are casting a bad light on all photographers.

The next item, with regards to asking permission, is to shoot on railroad tracks. Shooting on railroad tracks is illegal, it is private property and it does not matter how old the tracks are. Despite how much you want the look of the railroad tracks in your shot it’s not worth the trouble. Once again, if it is private property and you don’t have permission to shoot there then don’t do it!  If you want to be treated as professional you have a responsibility to conduct yourself as a professional.

The third area where a photographer needs to ask permission is the model release. In essence the model release is a contract. The model release tells both the model and the photographer who owns the copyright of the photographs and what the photos can be used for. I have had a model thank me for using a model release; the model release protects both the model and the photographer. If you don’t have a model release for every person in your photo you cannot post that photo anywhere, not on your blog and not on Facebook. The model release is your permission to use the photo.

Getting permission is the decent, and the professional thing to do.  Always have the model release in writing or any other permission in writing whenever possible. Two simple rules to remember; first is if it isn’t written down it never happened and the second is if you want to be treated as professional you have the responsibility to conduct yourself as a professional.

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