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I am looking to do some door step photography. As photographer I would like to retain the rights as I am making the photo. I do not want to ask for permission as in the UK, permission can be revoked. What sort of form do I need?

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    \$\begingroup\$ For posterity, what is door step photography exactly? Is it a form of street photography where, as the name suggests, take pictures of peoples door steps? \$\endgroup\$
    – AthomSfere
    Sep 22, 2020 at 1:08

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You always own the rights to any photograph you take. That is clear & without doubt.
The issue comes down to whether you have clear right to use an image of a person or building for commercial purposes.

You're going to have to ask permission, and if you want to use the photographs anywhere professionally/commercially, you're going to need written proof that you asked. A signed release cannot be revoked under ordinary circumstances.

If someone refuses to give consent, then you are on shaky ground as to whether you even had the right to take the photograph in the first place.

Photographing unidentifiable people in public, you can often get away without a release - until you want to sell through one of the stock photo libraries online… then they'll not take your work without one. The law may say one thing, but the online stock photo organisations want their potential legal liability covered in all circumstances.

People on their own doorsteps provide two issues - you need a model release for each person in the photo, as they will be clearly identifiable, & you will also need a release for the building they're standing in front of, for similar reasons of identification & also that you are not on public property.

You can claim to be a photo-journalist if you're not standing on their property, but that won't get you far if you want to publish commercially.

So… get release forms signed.

Some resources -
Format - The Ultimate Guide To Photo Release Forms [international, general guidance only]
Royal Photographic Society - specific UK-law model release

For any further details, consult a lawyer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically, you don't need anyone's permission to own the rights to images you create. You may need permission to use the image in a certain way, but you still own the image. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Sep 21, 2020 at 11:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelC - of course. I should have made that clear. Will add to answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 21, 2020 at 11:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question is UK specific... the only time a waiver (release) is required for any use is if the use of likeness conveys advocacy/support/endorsement (advertising); it's called "passing off" in UK law. But you are right that many agencies will not accept unreleased images regardless of any actual requirement. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2020 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the UK, you can pass these types of images as Editorials and still get paid for them. Large stock agencies such as Shutterstock also allow for such images without release. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2020 at 22:31
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You always own the rights to any image you take legally as an individual. In the UK you do not have to ask, nor can an individual refuse/revoke your right, to take a picture legally (i.e. not invasion of privacy, trespassing, etc).

In the UK, the only image use that requires a waiver/release is called "passing off;" (e.g. advertising)... and it is the end user of the image that needs the release, not the photographer (but they will expect you to provide it).

Where you could potentially get into some trouble is if a picture of an individual, or the use (display) of the picture, also contains additional information that makes them personally identifiable (contains personally identifiable information/PII)... e.g. it includes their name, address, etc. Then you could find that the GDPR/DPA 2018 are applicable; which has to do with the storage/use of that information. The DPA does require notification/permission (release) to collect/store/use PII; and if you do get it, the storage/use of that information (now the release + image) also falls under the GDPR/DPA. There are special use exclusions to the DPA which include artistic/journalistic purposes. If there is a case that requires notification/permission (e.g. aggregation of information; not just a persons likeness) then not doing so (not asking) doesn't make it ok... (and it just being inconvenient isn't enough to qualify the artistic exclusion).

If you are just doing normal street type photography, you are not using the images for advertising, and you are not aggregating PII, then you do not need any forms/releases/waivers/permission.

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