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notaxonrotax
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The ethics of taking (and publishing!) pictures of aircraft and installations.

Mon Jan 03, 2022 3:22 pm

Good day fellow photographers / enthusiasts,

recently I have received the "request" from a club to remove all pictures depicting any of their aircraft on this site, and otherwise they would take legal action.
How could I refuse such a friendly solicitation?
(For the record: I had gone there taking pictures with full permission from one of the owners of the airfield, but an other owner now disagreed and decided to threaten me).

That was not the 1st time a club was extremely worried about their installations being published, an other owner of a field also contacted me and telling me not to publish anything...while yet again, I was given full permission to shoot these images while I was there on site a few days prior.
This person later explained that they were worried about burglars hunting for aircraft engines, and the exposure of their alarm system in my pictures could potentially constitute a major security leak.

Leaving these 2 examples aside, I was thinking more broadly: how about the ethics of taking pics of private aircraft and publishing them?
(Most companies don`t have a problem with it, is my experience).

What is so secret about private aircraft? The registration numbers are usually printed rather largely on the majority of aircraft.
After all, the public records in most countries show the registration, type number, year of construction, engine type and sometimes even the owner`s name etc.
That is a lot more invasive than me posting tail number N12345ABC on Airliners.net.....I would have thought.
For the record: sometimes I do have personal info about the owners but I obviously don`t publish that.

The funny thing is, while on their own private terrain they can indeed sue the photographer I guess, depending in which country they are located of course.
But once this contraption is in the air, anyone can shoot this same aircraft from a public road and do what they like with the pictures, am I correct?

I often wonder about the ethics of my hobby. Is me shooting an aircraft remotely (telezoom) and uploading it to A-net without consulting the owner so bad?
Does it serve a purpose from a "journalistic" point of view? The aircraft exists and can therefore be considered as "news". ("New in Database" certainly excites me!).

And at a commercial airport? Is me shooting and publishing the pilot disembarking the aircraft accompanied by somebody his missus is not supposed to see, a sin?
After all, these aircraft are publicly registered! My car could be photographed anywhere in the public street, right, that is not so different I would say.

I was hoping this thread would turn into a lively conversation (debate?) about boundaries, so-called trespassing, and other exciting photography adventures you fellow adventurers have been involved in or have heard about?

Have you ever decided not to publish your work because of whatever reason?
Accident pics...would you publish them?
Have you had problems with security guards? Misunderstandings with police? Accusations of terrorism?
Have you been told that they would sue you just because of the pics you took?
Etc etc.

Thanks!

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cpd
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Re: The ethics of taking (and publishing!) pictures of aircraft and installations.

Mon Jan 03, 2022 6:31 pm

I’ve had the third degree investigation by Police worried that I might be a terrorist, yes, one with $30,000 of Nikon camera gear and a big look at me tripod.

After they concluded no issue (even looked at my NPS member card) they left me to continue and no issue. I have never been asked to remove a photo however.

Couldn’t you also just put the images as location withheld? That would surely solve any security concerns.

Apologies for the very bland reply.
 
Newark727
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Re: The ethics of taking (and publishing!) pictures of aircraft and installations.

Mon Jan 03, 2022 11:47 pm

Interesting set of questions. Apologies if this sounds like me thinking out loud, but I guess it kind of is.

The way I feel is, I'm trying to take pictures of machines, not people, and the machines don't have privacy, the people do. But if it's impossible to get the photos of the machines without upsetting the privacy of the people, I'll have to uphold the latter. I felt intensely uncomfortable spotting at Rosamond Airpark and Yucca Valley because I thought I was going there to see an airfield and airplanes, but the way those two facilities are constructed, you can't do that without looking into peoples' backyards and garages, which I don't feel comfortable doing.

On the other hand, there are times when I've been asked to leave parking lots that have come across as more than a little absurd - yes, it is private property, but the parking lot isn't closed, I'm disturbing no one, and I'm not seeing anything that can't easily be seen by ordinary visitors regardless. I still <i>do</i> leave, because I think the practicality of the hobby depends on the willingness of airports and their neighbors to tolerate it and part of that is being polite.

As far as trespassing, I try to stop at the first locked gate or fence that I reach unless permitted otherwise - I'm like a vampire, I have to be invited!
 
petertenthije
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Re: The ethics of taking (and publishing!) pictures of aircraft and installations.

Tue Jan 04, 2022 7:01 pm

Have you ever decided not to publish your work because of whatever reason?

Not yet.


Accident pics...would you publish them?

I would publish them if everyone walked away from the accident. Otherwise, i am honestly not sure what I’d do. If you can actually see bodies, then no. I would send them to the accident investigators / police though.


Have you had problems with security guards? Misunderstandings with police? Accusations of terrorism?

Once at LHR i had a routine check under the anti terrorism act (I’ve framed the ticket and put it above my desk :)). But no problem to stay.

Once at LCY someone from the offices approached me to tell me I could not take pictures. I told him politely he was mistaken. Not much later a police patrol came by, asked for my details, and told me I was right. The officers then went to the guy that called for them and walked out with coffee.

At LGA’s planeview park a bystander tried the same. A passing police car gave a friendly wave at which point the bystander walked away.

At EWR i was told by a rent-a-cop to leave.


Have you been told that they would sue you just because of the pics you took?

No, but i have been told not to take pictures of certain planes / objects.

For instance, at Eindhoven you can make great photos of the military apron from parking 5. There is a unspoken agreement between the air force and the local spotters group that photography is fine, but photos with people or security objects can not be published

Also, at an airside tour at moscow domededovo we had freedom to photograph everything except Transaero. Not sure what’s so special about them. Especially since during the same tour a few years earlier Transaero was fine with photography.

At the aviation museum of prague there are clear markings that photography is fine, but publication is not.
 
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notaxonrotax
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Re: The ethics of taking (and publishing!) pictures of aircraft and installations.

Thu Jan 06, 2022 10:21 am

cpd wrote:


Couldn’t you also just put the images as location withheld? That would surely solve any security concerns.



You would think so, wouldn`t you?
I even had some pictures of visiting aircraft that were parked on their field for just a short moment, and I argued that "surely those are not a problem?".....but no.
No joy....

cpd wrote:


Apologies for the very bland reply.


Not at all....

Newark727 wrote:
Apologies if this sounds like me thinking out loud, but I guess it kind of is.

That is what I was looking for...


Newark727 wrote:

On the other hand, there are times when I've been asked to leave parking lots that have come across as more than a little absurd - yes, it is private property, but the parking lot isn't closed, I'm disturbing no one, and I'm not seeing anything that can't easily be seen by ordinary visitors regardless. I still <i>do</i> leave, because I think the practicality of the hobby depends on the willingness of airports and their neighbors to tolerate it and part of that is being polite.


I guess you have a point, but I think I am more persistent than that.
Well, it depends of course. If it`s just a casual case of "I happen to be there", that is one thing.
But if I drove a long way to a specific spot I am normally not gonna be deterred by some person with a chip on his shoulder.
I have stopped shooting for certain (valid) reasons mind you, but if I smell like B.S....I would get in the car to try from another spot and if need be I would promptly return, while kind of dodging the person from before.


Newark727 wrote:

As far as trespassing, I try to stop at the first locked gate or fence that I reach unless permitted otherwise - I'm like a vampire, I have to be invited!


Trespassing or potential trespassing is never comfortable.
But what constitutes trespassing exactly? There are some huge grey areas at times......(sometimes quite literally grey, but I digress).
I have been accused of it while never passing any sign indicating anything (how was I to know??), and I have had the opposite as well: being waved through in a friendly manner or having been received by some cooperative local people after having passed some menacing looking signs.

I shoot a lot of runways, just thresholds, and many times you just see the 2 numbers painted (or constructed) on tarmac, grass or on other type of soil in the middle of nowhere.
One of my hobbies is to set out a route to as many remote runways that I found on-line for a certain area.
I must admit I have passed a "no entry" or "danger" sign once or twice as there was absolutely nobody around and the property just looked deserted or abandoned.
Never had issues with publishing these fields either, I really think a lot of these signs were put up back in the days when these fields were active.

A lot of municipalities maintain an airfield (just in case) and the weeds suggest very little action taking place on these fields most of the times.
I have seen tractors working the land only meters away from these abandoned airfields, near the "danger" sign.
I guess I am "guilty" of following my own interpretation sometimes. My collection of runways is growing and growing, and one day I would like to say that I have visited all airfield in the country.

petertenthije wrote:

For instance, at Eindhoven you can make great photos of the military apron from parking 5. There is a unspoken agreement between the air force and the local spotters group that photography is fine, but photos with people or security objects can not be published



Is that generally respected by everybody though??

petertenthije wrote:
Accident pics...would you publish them?

I would publish them if everyone walked away from the accident. Otherwise, i am honestly not sure what I’d do. If you can actually see bodies, then no.
[/quote]

Definitely!

That is where I draw the line too!!
I have a few crashes in DB, but all of them were just bent metal.....

Thanks all!

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dvincent
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Re: The ethics of taking (and publishing!) pictures of aircraft and installations.

Tue Jan 18, 2022 4:36 pm

The only "ethical" requests I've upheld are for paying clients that I've worked with. If they hire me to photograph their private jets (and they have), I don't publish those photos elsewhere. Sometimes I use them on my personal portfolio pages, but the identifiers have been edited out of the aircraft. Sometimes the backgrounds are even edited out so you can't tell what airport they were taken at. That's part of the agreement; that I can use the images to promote myself within reason.

I'm largely out of the biz, but I still won't resell these photos because that was an agreement between me and the companies that commissioned me.

But if I'm out spotting on my own time? On a public airfield? Meh. I don't act like a paparazzo, and random private plates are not important. Almost every citizen has the capability to record images and video these days, and it's impossible to prevent yourself from being recorded in a public place.

If it ever came to accident photos, I personally wouldn't post a crash (and I hope I never witness one). But I'm not a news photographer.

There's also the question about profiting from images made of other people's property, but at least here in the US it's pretty clear what is and is not an "unauthorized reproduction" and airplanes don't fall in that category. Ethically and legally I don't think Alaska Airlines had much of a leg to stand on when they came after people, but I can understand people just giving in to make that problem going away.
 
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thebunkerparodi
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Re: The ethics of taking (and publishing!) pictures of aircraft and installations.

Wed Jan 19, 2022 1:15 pm

Another odd thing is when air crash investigation has to blur registration letter for some reason when they show certain plane. I don't get why is it such a issue to photograph an aircraft for them, it's not liek the pilot/passenger will be that visible (depend of how the pic was taken) and what's the deal with having the registration number/letters visible on the picture too?
 
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notaxonrotax
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Re: The ethics of taking (and publishing!) pictures of aircraft and installations.

Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:03 pm

dvincent wrote:
I still won't resell these photos because that was an agreement between me and the companies that commissioned me.


Good on you......exactly how the ethics of such a business agreement should be handled in my opinion.

dvincent wrote:

There's also the question about profiting from images made of other people's property .


I guess so yes, personally I have never charged a dime to anyone so that is of no concern of mine.
You raise a fair point though, as I have noticed other people being concerned about my potential income stemming from this activity.....

I wish I were paid going around airfields non-stop......but alas, it only costs me!


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