Let's say a photographer takes some street photography and sells the prints in a gallery.

What is ok vs not ok regarding people being in the photos, that are taken in NZ?

Let's assume the photographer is not being a d* ck and if someone asks them to not photograph them, they don't, they don't misrepresent a subject etc etc Let's also assume the photos are not for journalism.

What would make the following ok:

  1. Crowd of people in a public place (e.g., crossing the street)
  2. A single person in a public place (e.g., crossing the street)
  3. Crowd of people in a public-private place (e.g., bar or cafe)
  4. Single person in a public-private place (e.g., bar or cafe)
  5. Crowd of people on private property which is not open to the public.
  6. Single person on private property which is not open to the public

Would permission be needed, would it need to be in writing etc etc? Would it make a difference if the photograph was used to advertise the opening of the show at the gallery?

(I know these are several questions, but it would be silly to split them into several which would then be flagged as duplicates!) .

  • \$\begingroup\$ You might also ask if there are limitations w.r.t. what you may do with an image. e.g. here in the us you can photograph subjects in public (even without consent) but you cannot use those images for commercial purposes without consent. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2020 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TimCampbell Isn't that clear from the first sentence? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 14, 2020 at 1:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarcyThomas Here in the U.S., selling prints, in and of itself, is not considered "commercial usage", which is defined as use that implies or states that the subject is endorsing a product or service. "Editorial" usage is not considered "commercial", even if one must pay to see it in a newspaper, magazine, or online site. "Artistic" usage is not considered "commercial" if the purpose of the work is artistic, rather than to sell something, etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Aug 14, 2020 at 14:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... "Something" that is other than the artwork itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Aug 14, 2020 at 14:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AntonStrogonoff Out of scope of this question. But valuable advise all the same. I shoot with film so don't have a chance to check if it is a great shot in the moment. However if I ever feel that what I have captured has the potential then I will see about getting a release or contact details of the subject. Thanks 👍 \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19, 2020 at 4:24

1 Answer 1


Ask the New Zealand Police...


It is generally lawful to take photographs of people in public places without their consent. However, you must not film or take photos of people if they are in a place where they can expect privacy (such as a public changing area or toilet) and that person:

  • is naked, in underclothes, showering, toileting etc
  • is unaware of being filmed or photographed
  • has not given consent to be filmed or photographed.

You should not take photos of people if:

  • they are in a place where they would expect reasonable privacy and publication would be highly offensive to an objective and reasonable person
  • it has potential to stop other people's use and enjoyment of the same place
  • you have no legitimate reason for taking the film or photos.

However, you can take and/or publish photos or film of people where there is no expectation of privacy, such as a beach, shopping mall, park or other public place.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ FYI Link only answers are not the best because the link can go bad. It is better to explicitly say what is in the link as well as reference the link \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Aug 13, 2020 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterM; I updated the post... that should be adequate I think. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2020 at 15:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well… except that pictures are not text-searchable. I also think that's just a tad vague & doesn't include potential commercial applications. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 13, 2020 at 16:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetsujin, "publish" is commercial usage. I just had a look at the copyright/privacy laws and it appears that they are very similar to EU/UK laws in regard to using a person's likeness commercially (i.e. model releases are not typically required). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2020 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is a "public place" though? Sometimes "a place the public has access to". But the owner of a shopping mall can restrict any activity on their property. And (unlike e.g. the UK) pretty much anywhere in NZ has an owner (councils, DOC, NZTA). Beaches may be the only exception? \$\endgroup\$
    – Rich
    Aug 13, 2020 at 22:06

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