Can You Take a Picture in Public?

(WSVN) - If you see a bird, a car, a plant, do you have a right to take a picture of it with your phone? A South Florida man posed that question to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Robert retired, he got bored, and then, found a solution.

Robert Santana, out for a stroll: “I have a lot of energy. I end up walking. I do a lot of walking, which is good.”

Walking every day through Little Havana past the flowers, the birds, the tourists and sometimes stopping to capture the sights.

Robert Santana: “I took a picture of a sheepdog. A gentleman was walking, and he said, ‘You can pet her if you like.'”

That same day, Robert saw a cat near an empty bird cage.

What caught his eye? Look closely at the Heineken box. Another cat is inside.

Robert Santana: “I just like to look at these photographs and remember things.”

Then, as Robert walked down Calle Ocho that Saturday morning, he spotted this…

Robert Santana: “I noticed an old vintage car across the street. I think it was a Bel Air, ’56 Bel Air.”

It was in this parking lot. Robert took a picture from the sidewalk. Then….

Robert Santana: “I went to the front of the car because the grill in the front of the car, I think it’s the most beautiful part of it.”

There was a woman there posing in front of the old Bel Air.

Robert Santana: “I hardly even noticed. I was looking at the car, and I started taking pictures, and all of the sudden this gentleman comes up to me yelling and screaming and telling me that I wasn’t allowed to take any photographs.”

Robert was surprised they expected privacy since everyone on Eighth Street could easily see them.

Robert Santana: “‘Well, you can’t take pictures of the model, of the girl.’ I said, ‘I don’t want any pictures of the girl. I want pictures of the– I’m taking pictures of the car,’ and I think that upset them even more.”

Rather than cause any problems, Robert started to walk away as he explained himself.

Robert Santana: “I told them this is a public area. You cannot tell me I can’t take pictures of this area. There’s a bus stop here, and I’m on the side of the sidewalk here.”

Robert then headed back to his house, stopping to take a picture of a bright red cardinal, but he could not get that colorful confrontation out of his head.

Robert Santana: “I want to know if I have a right to do so, to take a picture of a vehicle that is in a parking lot of a business. If I’m on the sidewalk, I’d like to know if there can be any repercussions of this, or they have the right to tell me I cannot do so.”

And now let’s bring in Mr. Finkelstein.

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “If you are on public property or any property where you have a right to be, you can take all the pictures you want, so Robert is safe on the sidewalk, and if he is in the parking lot, the owner of the property can make him leave, but the photographer cannot. Bottom line: Robert did nothing wrong.”

Robert can snap all the pictures he wants, and then, there is another question about taking pictures if people are in a home.

Howard Finkelstein: “You can stand on the street or sidewalk and take pictures of a home all you want, but be careful because if you point the camera at a window capturing inside the property, it’s video voyeurism and a crime, because people have the right to privacy inside their property.”

Robert Santana: “Glad you were able to straighten out the situation for me.”

And Robert also discovered something else in retirement: a healthy way to beat the boredom.

Robert Santana: “I think walking does so much for you. It helps with your circulation, your heart rate. It’s made a difference in me night and day.”

I guess that’s why we are always told to get a little exercise every day, and by the way, if you take a picture from a legal space, you can sell the picture, but not if it’s used to endorse a product. It’s complicated in that respect, so be careful.

A problem left you blurry? Wanna display that snapshot of your life? Stroll our way, and picture this: we come up with a glossy solution for you.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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