A building firm have asked me to do a commercial shoot of the interior of various hotels and leisure centres that they have worked on. Is it up to the building firm to get permission from each of the sites for me to take the photographs or do I need to seek the permission myself?

All of the photographs will be taken over 1 day during opening hours and I will be accompanied by a representative from the building firm who has organised access to each of the areas.

I was considering putting a section on the licence agreement/contract that states that permission must have been gained by the building firm. Is this a good idea or unnecessary?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Regardless of who SHOULD obtain permissions, things are only going to work seamlessly for you (if then) if all permissions have been obtained. ie you may not have to do it but if you want life to be half reasonable you must do whatever it takes to ensure that permissions have been granted. | \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Except where the 'cost' of offending someone exceeds the value to you of doing so, it is never a bad idea to explain your understandings in writing. So much the better if you can get the other party to agree to it in a legally binding manner. BUT just being able to point to a clear written statement that you discussed with them in advance can be a major advantage for all concerned. (Doing this saved me a substantial sum on one occasion.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 16:12

2 Answers 2


If permission is required, in an arrangement like this it is standard practice for the client to obtain permissions (and pay any required licensing fees). It is possible for them to rely on you, but that means that elements of their contract with you can be frustrated, which can lead to messy renegotiation/mitigation/arbitration or worse, and the client will generally want to keep things as simple and predictable as possible. That means that they will arrange permissions ahead of time, and only contract with you to shoot what can be shot -- otherwise, they're likely to wind up paying your day rate for work you're not actually able to do.

So it's not that permission necessarily needs to be obtained (there are a lot of "it depends" around that) or that the client is somehow legally responsible -- it's just a matter of making the services contract neat and easily enforceable, and that works out best if permissions are arranged before the shooting contract is finalized.


Legal questions are unique in that the best answers are usually more practically correct than technically correct.

Based on the research I have done in the past you should be ok as long as it's a public place and if they don't keep you from taking the pictures you should be good to sell/publish/etc.

However, even if you're technically in the clear that won't necessarily stop them from dragging you into court or mean that people will buy your photos without a release because they're afraid of being sued. You may win in court, but it could be a long and expensive win.

If you're doing this professionally and are legitimately concerned ask a lawyer, not the public on the internet.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP explicitly says its the insides of hotels and the like. They are most definitely NOT public spaces, they are private property. Getting legal advice for free is insane if real money is at stake. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ From what I've read if you can get the picture taken that's 99% of it done. People can only prevent you from taking pictures, but they can't take your pictures from you or prevent you from using them once they're taken (with the exception of some very limited situations where they can). What is and isn't public is somewhat subjective as well; is the lobby public or private? \$\endgroup\$
    – tenmiles
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 18:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its not at all subjective. The lobby of a private hotel is private property. Period. The hotel management can throw you out for any reason they have. And the police will, if needed, back them up. You can trespass in a hotel lobby. You can not trespass in a public park or on a sidewalk. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 16:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.