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ISSUE: Photographing in a Cemetery

Started Jan 18, 2013 | Discussions thread
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ISSUE: Photographing in a Cemetery
Jan 18, 2013

I do a lot of cemetery photography.  One of the more plush cemeteries in my areas is one I frequent quite a bit.  A few years ago a professional photographer (I am not) photographed a grave site and used the photo for an advertisement.  That, I feel, is wrong.  He really needed to get permission from the cemetery to do that.  In any event, whatever he photographed was more than likely a well-to-do family in the area.  Somehow they got wind of the ad and threatened to sue the cemetery.  I never did find out what the outcome of this incident.

When I'm in this cemetery, I avoid making it obvious that I am taking pictures.

The other day I was taking a shot and one of the grounds keepers pulled up and stopped about fifty yards from me.  My lens was clearly poking out the window, so it was obvious that I was photographing.  I had to drive by the truck and I sensed that he wanted to talk to me but I made no eye contact and drove off.  I could see in my rear view mirror that he was checking me out, probably taking down my plates.  It is possible he was just wanted to ask me what I do with my pictures (I post them on Flickr .)  However I chose to avoid the confrontation.

Just days before this incident I asked a friend of mine, who happens to be a copyright attorney, if it is legal to photograph in cemeteries.  He thought that since cemeteries are open to the public that it should be okay and would pose no problems.  It is possible that the family that threatened a law suit was just threatening.  As I already stated...I do believe the photographer was wrong in what he did and perhaps there are grounds for a legal case considering he used the image for commercial purposes.

What do you think?

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