As a blogger, I am constantly taking pictures of things that attract my attention. When I am in a shop, I always request permission to take photographs, informing the shop owner or manager that I write a blog and that I’d like to take some pictures and include them on my blog, along with a link to their shop. If the shop owner is smart, they will let me take pictures, because it’s free publicity for them.
It is very rare that my polite request is refused. If it is, then it’s not a place where I want to refer people. My feeling is that if the owner/manager is difficult about this request, then they might be problematic in other ways.
Many times, I walk or drive through neighbourhoods and take pictures of every house on the block. I can certainly understand someone being a little nervous about having a stranger take a picture of their house, but I am not out front with a tripod and a huge telephoto lens. I am always careful to be on public property as I am taking a picture of what I can see from that vantage point. If I want to get a close up of some detail, I use my telephoto setting on my camera and use the highest resolution for the shot. That way, I can edit it later without losing detail. The other day, I took a picture on a public street of something that was in full view of the public and I was assaulted because a person didn’t think I should have taken the picture. They tried to take my camera from me. I knew my rights as a photographer and objected strongly.
If you’re out and about photographing houses, landscapes, fashion and style or even your dinner, you should read and know your rights as a photographer. You can find a PDF of them here. And here’s a good article, also in a PDF, that explains in some detail what you can and cannot do, both while shooting pictures, and after you’ve shot them.
The law in the United States of America is pretty simple. You are allowed to photograph anything with the following exceptions:
• Certain military installations or operations.
• People who have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That is, people who are some place that's not easily visible to the general public, e.g., if you shoot through someone's window with a telephoto lens.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read through the Photographer’s Rights. You never know when the information might come in handy.