Starsphinx

Shooting inside shopping centres and shops - what permissions do you need

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I am going to be brave and ask a question I feel is probably really dumb.

I have noticed a lot of shots in the found and sold threads are ones taken of the insides of shops - it might be a focus on the products being sold or a picture of the aisles and tills but they are definitely inside.  How do people go about taking these?  Are they asking (and presumably getting) permission from shop managers?  How do you approach this?  I get antsy enough sometimes with ordinary outside street photography - I cannot imagine stuff inside shops is walk in and point camera.  I am not worried about being considered weird - I am weird.  I do worry about getting into trouble.  On the other hand, it seems a popular and profitable line and one I feel I should investigate.

Apologies if that is the dumbest question ever - just something I can't get a handle on.

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Probably best to ask but I never have.  However, I mark them as editorial only and no releases.  I've managed some shots from the public footpath shooting through the door or window.

Edited by John Walker

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The only permission I ever ask for is 'may I snap a pic of you or your children,' and I don't do that often. I'm a bit looser than John. I click that I don't have a model release or property release, but I don't click 'editorial only.' 

 

My food images fall into 4 groups, tabletop food, people dinning, farmers markets, and supermarkets. Stuff on supermarkets shelves is not a big seller, but it does sell. 

 

Do a search on Alamy to see how many images there are in any category you want to know about. 

 

Edo

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In general women tend to get into less trouble taking pictures.

However inside a shop or mall the bored husband playing with his toys is not an uncommon sight.

In the best case I got offered a coffee and some magazines; in the worst case I was escorted out of the building. (Both in the US.)

Lots of shopping malls have a no photo policy. And lots have security also. Who of course love to catch a photographer, which is a lot easier and safer than catching an actual thief.

Honesty goes a long way btw.

 

wim

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I am not too worried about what to do once I have got images - I am happy marking them etc - it is just the whole taking them bit I freak on.  Which is daft because I am perfectly happy to pull out my phone and take pictures of stuff in shops - to show other people what I think they might like, to record ingredients etc.  Oh and there are a couple of apps where you scan barcodes to get money off and stuff.  I just dont think I could walk up to a shelf whip out the Nikon, frame the whatever and take a smooth shot.

 

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 I don't photograph in malls very often, but when I do I just look both ways to see if there are any security guards around before taking pictures. Not the best thing to do, but who needs all the red tape and hassle of asking for permission that probably won't be granted, especially if you're just going to snap a few casual photos.

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 I don't photograph in malls very often, but when I do I just look both ways to see if there are any security guards around before taking pictures. Not the best thing to do, but who needs all the red tape and hassle of asking for permission that probably won't be granted, especially if you're just going to snap a few casual photos.

 

 

 

To be fair I have shot in a mall once - a few years back the local scrap yard caught fire - and I was a new shutterbug and was around town all over the place looking for alternative and "unique" takes (just about everyone else was heading for the site with their phones out) and there were some nice ones through the mall skylights - which I took without thinking or caring.  At that point I had very little idea of how to sell or even if was going to sell, even less about permissions and such have you - I saw it and snapped it.   Nobody seemed to care what I was doing (and a few people pulled their phones out to copy).  These days I am much more aware of possible issues - and therefore do the thing where I look guilty and so get pegged as guilty all without doing anything.

 

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10 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

To be fair I have shot in a mall once - a few years back the local scrap yard caught fire - and I was a new shutterbug and was around town all over the place looking for alternative and "unique" takes (just about everyone else was heading for the site with their phones out) and there were some nice ones through the mall skylights - which I took without thinking or caring.  At that point I had very little idea of how to sell or even if was going to sell, even less about permissions and such have you - I saw it and snapped it.   Nobody seemed to care what I was doing (and a few people pulled their phones out to copy).  These days I am much more aware of possible issues - and therefore do the thing where I look guilty and so get pegged as guilty all without doing anything.

 

 

In my case, it helps being an older nerdy-looking guy with glasses (a.k.a. spectacles). The only place that I've had trouble in a shopping mall was Mexico, where I tend to stick out more. I find airports to be the scariest places in which to photograph these days.

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Just now, RedSnapper said:

shoot from the hip

 

literally

 

km

I tried that - I get out of focus floor lol

 

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Inside a small shop I ask permission, explaining what I am up to. Not done a lot but never been refused. Shopping centre whatever I can get away with. Never been stopped, but wouldn't snap in front of a security person/camera. Also I tend to take the shot and move on, and don't make a meal of it.

 

Like Edo I just mark the images as having no releases.

 

I was once taken to task for shooting outside a commercial bank, and I may have been on private land, so walked. I presume that they wanted to preserve the anonymity of their wealthy clients, but you have to wonder why.

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1 minute ago, Starsphinx said:

I tried that - I get out of focus floor lol

 

 

try again...
work on the technique

pre-focus
wide angle
crop in

 

km

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3 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I tried that - I get out of focus floor lol

 

 

A tilting rear screen helps. I tend to use it rather than the viewfinder in shops and malls. It makes you look like a happy snapper rather than a sneaky, money-obsessed  stock photographer. B)

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1 minute ago, RedSnapper said:

 

try again...
work on the technique

pre-focus
wide angle
crop in

 

km

I think I am going to be practising around the house a bit.  I guess like everything you get smoother with time.  Might also try the "my camera is innocently sitting next to me and I am checking stuff on my phone" thing as very few people seem to realise that phone apps can control the camera

 

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1 minute ago, John Mitchell said:

 

A tilting rear screen helps. I tend to use it rather than the viewfinder in shops and malls. It makes you look like a happy snapper rather than a sneaky, money-obsessed  stock photographer. B)

Thats the tone I am going for lol

 

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I've only shot in shopping centres and shops a few times, only challenged twice. 

 

When Woolworths were in receivership shot the local store in a shopping centre. Checked there were no security in view, shot the outside of store, then through the open store entrance. Then inside, down isles almost empty of goods, then queues at the tills. Inside was shooting from waist via live view with vary angle screen. Just as I finished the manager challenged me. Chatted with him for a few minutes, he thought I was videoing. Even though he was being made redundant he was loyal to his employers up to the last moment. Wished him well finding other employment and left. 

 

Another time needed some shots from within a long established London umbrella shop. Worked out in advance what shots I wanted, walked through the door, first shot OK, just composing the second and was told photography wasn't allowed. 'Click' as he spoke, apologised re not knowing photography wasn't allowed as leaving and said I didn't see the signs as I came through the door. If it wasn't for the no photography signs I may have asked first, but if permission had been refused I would have been up s**t creek.

 

No time to chimp and check composition or exposure, has to be right first shot.

 

Most recent was shooting in Oxford's Westgate Centre last Saturday. Always moving, a quick burst, then on to the next. No issues.

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I have shot in malls with my RX100 and RX100 lll. The tilting screen is great. Never hold it up to my eye with the 3rd gen. I can sit on a bench and appear to be chimping while taking shots. Never been challenged. Did the same in a Walmart store. I do try to avoid the store cameras as much as I can.

I even took shots in an exam room while the doctor examined my sister’s eyes. The room was dim.  What was hilarious was the spooked doctor, who kept seeing tiny flashes of a red light from behind her back when I focused! :lol:

 

Were they noisy? You betcha.  I worked on that and they were accepted just fine.

Anybody interested in the RX100 cameras but fear noise....if you are halfway adept in LR or photoshop, don’t fear it. In good light, no problem.

I call those little cameras my spy or stealth cameras.

Unless you plan on asking permission, I recommend getting a pocket camera for that kind of shooting. Nobody thinks “professional “ when they see you using it. I never took my Nikon, or even my Fuji inside a shop. That’s asking for it in my humble opinion.

Betty

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I was taking shots outside a mall here in California when I was approached by their security guard who told me that taking photos was not permitted.  I asked him how I might get permission because I though it would be worthwhile to also photograph the inside of the mall.  He told me to talk to the mall management which I did.  I talked to some of the girls in the office and I explained what I was doing and why.  They seemed to think it was an alright thing to do.  They suggested that I come back or call when the mall manager was in and talk to her.  I got the impression that I might be able to get permission.  I never followed up but I was encouraged.  So it might be worthwhile to approach it head on and just ask.  I thought a good time to do it would be early in the morning when you could get shots with no people in them.  I was mostly interested in the store logos and store decor.

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Thanks @sb photos useful stuff to know

@Betty LaRue - unfortunately, it is going to be a while before I can afford a small mirrorless, and many things are higher up the list.  I will just have to play dumb with the Nikon and kit lens

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If you are in a large mall, where tourists may like to go, such as the Eaton Centre in Toronto, no one pays any mind to people taking pictures.  I haven't had any issues in smaller malls either.  I did have someone ask me once in my local mall why I was taking pictures and I simply said got a new lens and had to try it out.

 

One advantage of the Sony RX100 (which pretty much use all the time now) is that it looks like a lower grade camera so people just think you must be a tourist taking snaps.

 

Grocery stores are different.  I have had the Sony around my neck with the camera wifi on and me holding my tablet, running the camera that way so I just look like someone playing on her tablet.  The wifi feature is great.

 

Jill

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1 hour ago, Jill Morgan said:

If you are in a large mall, where tourists may like to go, such as the Eaton Centre in Toronto, no one pays any mind to people taking pictures.  I haven't had any issues in smaller malls either.  I did have someone ask me once in my local mall why I was taking pictures and I simply said got a new lens and had to try it out.

 

One advantage of the Sony RX100 (which pretty much use all the time now) is that it looks like a lower grade camera so people just think you must be a tourist taking snaps.

 

Grocery stores are different.  I have had the Sony around my neck with the camera wifi on and me holding my tablet, running the camera that way so I just look like someone playing on her tablet.  The wifi feature is great.

 

Jill

I have similar on the Nikon through my phone - although phone controls leave a lot to be desired (cannot refocus - but I back button focus anyway so few people realize what I am doing).

I suspect the biggest issue is going to be myself - I have a deep conviction that if I am doing anything remotely questionable my head turns green and big klaxons go off telling everyone. I once walked back a mile and a half to pay for something I accidentally walked out with because I was sure if I didn't the next time I shopped I would be jumped by 8 security guards - the lass on the checkout looked at me as if I was bonkers. 

So if I can get me to chill out and act natural I will be laughing.

 

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4 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I suspect the biggest issue is going to be myself - I have a deep conviction that if I am doing anything remotely questionable my head turns green and big klaxons go off telling everyone. I once walked back a mile and a half to pay for something I accidentally walked out with because I was sure if I didn't the next time I shopped I would be jumped by 8 security guards - the lass on the checkout looked at me as if I was bonkers. 

 

Maybe you have Japanese ancestry. Or Norwegian.

 

wim

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17 hours ago, wiskerke said:

 

Maybe you have Japanese ancestry. Or Norwegian.

 

wim

 

Or even honest British.

 

Allan

 

 

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1 hour ago, Allan Bell said:

 

Or even honest British.

 

Allan

 

Yes evolution works in strange ways.

 

wim

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No problems at all taking photos in a shopping centre on Boxing Day. It didn’t even occur to me that it could be a problem. Noone challenged me and, after a bit of research, I cannot find anything that would have prohibited photography anyway. I see no reason to worry about this unless someone asks you what you are doing, and even then, just being polite and walking away should work.

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