A Basic Look at the Ethics and Rules for Photographing Graffiti

23 thoughts on A Basic Look at the Ethics and Rules for Photographing Graffiti

  1. Makes sense…part of the allure for me is the grafitti, but also the building, bridge, etc that it’s on, so the art is only one element of the photo. I like the contrast.

  2. Since most graffiti is gang based territorial tagging, you might danger your own safety, especially around Los Angeles where people have been killed trying to clean up this trash. Been around in law enforcement for many years.

  3. If a graffiti artist paints his work on a privately owned property without permission from the owner to do so, the artist is trespassing and vandalizing the property. Those are crimes. The artist cannot obtain a copyright for a criminal act. You are not allowed to profit from an illegal act. If the artist has permission of the property owner, then the act was legal and they possess copyright protection. However, unless they go through the process to register the work with the Government Copyright Office, they will have a difficult time establishing ownership legally. If a work is presented in a public space, and is not an iconic piece of work, you are free to photograph it and use it as you wish. The artist has no expectation of privacy. All the above is true only in the United States. Other countries differ.

  4. Wouldn’t art in public spaces, whether sanctioned or illegal, be placed there by the artist to be seen? A photograph without context would not be particularly interesting, but if the photographer identifies the place (and artist if the information is available) when selling the image, I don’t see a problem. Glorifying defacement of private property seems unwise to me.

  5. ” Frankly though, when it comes down to it, it shows a lack of respect from one artist to another and can lead to problems with your reputation as a photographer.”
    lol ! that’s absurd

  6. Is this really something (else) we need be concerned with, the ethics of photographing graffiti? Aren’t we artistic types far enough up the pious scale? I’m already uncomfortable with the collective self righteousness of it all, and now we are supposed to add ethics over graffiti to the facade of the artists community. It’s just plain silly.

  7. My first reaction was that why would photographing damage that someone intentionally did to a building etc be illegal? Then I read a sentence or 2 at the end of the article where it mentioned that while taking pix of public spaces in the US may be fine, it may not be in other countries.

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