The New York Institute of Photography is one of the world’s largest photography schools and because we are, we often publish fun and useful photography tips on our photography blog. Please enjoy!
I’ll cut through all the misinformation and get right to the bottom line. In America, it is absolutely legal to photograph people in public spaces without their consent. This includes streets, public parks, and sidewalks. Model releases only become necessary for commercial use and instances where the image implies that the subject endorses a certain product or statement. For editorial and artistic use, releases are not required. Now that you know your rights, consider downloading a copy should someone approach and ask what you are doing.
In countries across Europe, there can be variations to these laws, so it’s advisable to familiarize yourself with their specific customs.