Currently taking my photography hobby more seriously I started doing moodboards for editorials I want to create and would love to submit to magazines at one point.

I work a lot in places like street, museum expositions, malls and more. I recently did some photos at the Marina Bay Sands Mall and used a few of the shop windows which had amazing background patterns.

When I write my editorial should I put credits for the shop windows? And can I send an editorial to submission based magazines directly or should I contact the PR of the brand of the shop window I used in the picture?

If it helps I am currently located in Singapore

Further Information:

The mall did not have any "No Photography" signs or icons. The security of the shops saw us and never told us to stop shooting and same goes for the mall security.

For instance here is an idea of a photo using the Dior shop window:

dio background


1 Answer 1


I'm not familiar with the laws in Singapore, but there would certainly be a few issues if you were to do the same thing in the United States.

  • If a shop window is visible from a public roadway, sidewalk, or other publicly owned place, it is usually allowable to use any photos one takes from the public property. There are exceptions. For example, if the photo is primarily of a building or other intellectual property covered by trademarks or copyright, you might need permission from the owner of the trademark or copyright to publish a photo, depending on the usage. If the protected intellectual property is a small part of the background and not the primary subject or theme of the image, then you're much less likely to be liable for damages to the owner of the intellectual property represented in your image, regardless of usage.¹
  • On the other hand, if the shop windows are only accessible from private property, such as a privately owned parking lot or inside a mall, then it is entirely up to the property owner whether to allow one to take photos at all, much less publish them. This is not a trademark/copyright issue, it is a property rights issue. The owners of private property have the right to determine what activities will or will not be allowed on their premises.
  • Many malls in the united States have small signs posted at entrances to the effect that photography/videography on the premises requires the permission of the mall administrator. In such a case, one would need permission from the mall management just to shoot and be in the clear from a legal standpoint. This has been a longstanding practice which is becoming more and more unenforceable with the proliferation of phones and other very small devices with cameras.
  • If the mall management or their representative observes one shooting and asks one to leave, remaining on the premises will constitute criminal trespassing. If they ask you to stop shooting and you continue, that could also constitute trespassing because you are continuing an activity that they have specifically prohibited.
  • Even if you successfully complete your shoot and publish the results, the owners or management of the private property can request a court issue a cease and desist order regarding your use of the image or even sue you for damages. They might even have a case. But even if they don't, you're going to have to spend more money than it is probably worth to you to defend against their claim. You would still own the copyright to the image, but you might not have the right to publish/license the image for certain types of usage without permission of the property owner or their representatives.

¹ The classic example of this is the Transamerica building in San Francisco. A photo of the San Francisco skyline that includes the Transamerica Pyramid is not protected by the trademark of the building's appearance. This is because cityscapes are public domain. On the other hand, a photo that only shows the Transamerica Pyramid may be protected by the trademark and copyright held by the owners, depending on the actual usage of the image.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So for this shoot security of the mall and the shop saw us shooting at various locations and didn't say anything. Furthermore there are no "no photography" signs in the building as it is very touristic. Would this still apply then? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mederic
    Aug 21, 2018 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mederic In the U.S. you would probably be OK to use for editorial usage. But I don't know anything about the laws in Singapore. Even when you don't legally need permission, it's often smart to get it in advance. That makes it harder for the owners to get very far if they want to sue you later. Even if you are right and they are wrong, you'll have legal expenses in order to defend yourself. If you've got a release from them their case will probably be dismissed very early in the process. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Aug 21, 2018 at 14:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the insight I guess for now I will contact the mall to see if they let me use it for editorial purposes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mederic
    Aug 21, 2018 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ They responded to my inquiry with this but i'm not sure what it means: We have no comments on your pictures and is not in purview to provide authorization. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mederic
    Sep 7, 2018 at 2:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ That means the persons you contacted do not have the authority to say "yes" or "no". You need to ask them who, if anyone, does have that authority. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Sep 21, 2018 at 6:38

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