Taking pictures of art

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by hoffy, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    There was an interesting conversation at my photography clubs latest meet (& please don't turn this into a photography Club bash fest), about taking pictures of others art. It appears that of late, judges have been marking down images which have been taken of others art, even in public.

    What was said that if an image was just a straight photo of an art work (& again, I add, in a public place), such as taking a straight on picture of a statue, that it was a breach of copy right and plagiarism. They did also state that if the image was taken at a different angle, or a part shot, or there was some other element in the image that was not to do with the art, that it would be OK.

    I, though, did argue back, that if we were to take a picture of a building, then if the same logic applies, are we not then breaching the copy right of the architect?

    I would like to know other peoples views.
     
  2. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I think to a large degree it is true that in many things we are merely making a copy of another person's art if we are taking pictures of buildings and gardens and sculpture and anything else that the aesthetic look has already been taken into consideration by another person. I think that even might include a photo of a knock out woman who has been creative in dress and makeup. And if you believe in a God who created a beautiful earth then you have to give the credit where the credit is due. If you shoot female nudes and find out the model has had a boob job then you have to give a line of credit to the surgeon.

    All in all it is pretty much a lost cause so we might as well accept that the creativity of photography is in the craft.
    Dennis
     
  3. Moopheus

    Moopheus Member

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    No. Because copyright law explicitly allows photography (and painting, etc.) of buildings "normally in public view" regardless of the copyright status of the architect's work.

    (I should add, that's US law, in Australia it might be different.)
     
  4. naeroscatu

    naeroscatu Subscriber

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    Images representing art pieces done for commecial purpose without authors consent are illegal in most countries and there is nothing to explain about it. Buildings that are landmarks fall under the same laws again if the pictures are intended for commercial use. Taking pictures of art perse is not the problem here, what you do with them puts you on one side of the law or the other.
     
  5. matthewbetcher

    matthewbetcher Member

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    in the end, isn't it all about context?

    There are some amazing photos by Misrach and Struth for example that while yes, they are of paintings and museums, they become amazing works of art (and technically amazing photographs) in and of themselves. The works' subjects are recontextualized through a medium of mass representation and the contemporary art market... completely different in the end and easy to see void of any copyright and/or ethical concerns.

    ... a photo of a building to display / exhibit / sell as a photograph... I would think this is pretty easy.
    ... a photo of a building used to sell a developer on a particular design of a building designed by someone else... problem.
     
  6. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    If a photo is taken of a piece of art and is used in/as another piece of art. It's legit.
    Consider much of Andy Warhols work and the (very expensive) Marlboro man.
    A current example in Chicago is "the Bean". Commercial use is protected but casual use is not. Who's to say that if the bean is incorporated into another piece of art by montage or other method that it's use is illegal?
     
  7. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    I believe that the change in medium, as in a photo of a sculpture, is enough to avoid any real charge of plagiarism. I'm not sure angle, public place, additional elements, etc. have anything to do with it. Clearly the photo is not the original work. This is also what makes the issue of architectural photography avoid any taint. When you speak of a "reproduction" by means of photography, as in the copying of the Marlboro Man image, I think you're on different ground, but an argument could still be made. Of course, intent has a lot to do with the conversation. If I take a picture of a building, and for the purpose of getting a commission or payment, maintain that it is a picture of a model designed by me, I'm lying and liable to prosecution - or at least a good kick in the pants. Saying "this is my picture of that picture" may get you out of the legal soup, but it doesn't necessarily say much for your creative potential.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Good points from all of you. I have used art work as a basis of many of my shots. I work accross from a park that has a few on display and I find the textures of some of the sculptures interesting, mainly in relation to what the texture does with the light. I would hate to think that the way I look at the subject and photograph it would be deemed as breaching copyright.
     
  9. Moopheus

    Moopheus Member

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    That would be misrepresentation, attempted fraud, and, if you actually designed a building based on the photo passed it off as your own, that would be copyright infringement. But the photo by itself is not.
     
  10. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    I think you have to make a diference between 2D and 3D objects.

    If you make a straight foto of a two dimensional object it is copying and you will need the permission of the copyright owner to make money with it.
    This appies allso for drawings made by an architect.

    However, if you make photo's of architecture on assignment for e.i. the people that financed the project there is no infringment of the copyright of the architect and you can do so.
    In some cases you will need the permission of the people who use it e.i. Europol in The Hague.
    In this case it was because of security and the project developer arranged it for me.

    The use of photo's made either for the architect, project developer and user for other purposes than your portfolio can lead to friction between you and the people that gave the original assignment.
    I allways made it clear to these 3 parties that I would sell my prints to said 3 parties and never had a problem with it.

    Works of art photographed in a tree dimensional way e.i. paintings on a wall and you photograph the entire room is not an infringment of the copyright of the artist as long as the art is just a part of the photo.

    Peter
    Architectural photographer 1987-...............
     
  11. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    True.
     
  12. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    You are incorrect.
    RE: "the Marlboro Man" the original photographer didn't get a dime from the $1,000,000+ sale of the art work. Also take the time to look at Warhol's work. The MM shot he used for his work was from another photographer who didn't realize his work was used for years after Warhol died.
    Must have lived in a cave somewhere.
     
  13. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    Sorry John, but neighter you or me know what kind of deal the photographer made with the advertizing agency about copyrights.

    There is allways a problem of enforcing your copyrights.