You would think that it's no big deal to take a picture of a person, but you'd be wrong and that's especially true in Missouri where there are specific scenarios that could get you into real trouble.

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I'm not a lawyer and you shouldn't pretend that I am one. While I deal with legal photo use every single day of my life, I wanted to share some things I've learned from some real experts (including some lawyers).

I found a very helpful article shared by a law firm in St. Louis called Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal. Many people that take pictures think they're protected by the First Amendment freedom of expression, but that does not mean Missouri state laws especially involving personal privacy can't get you busted.

When it comes to taking photos of people in Missouri, they said that you need to be concerned about 3 different state-specific protections including "intrusion upon seclusion, public disclosure of private facts, and misappropriation of a person’s identity."

Here are some examples they gave which help explain scenarios where you could be in legal jeopardy.

  • Taking a picture of someone in a place where a sensible person would expect to have privacy like a bathroom or dressing room.
  • Taking a photo that discloses someone's financial or medical status that would otherwise be private
  • Taking and/or sharing a photo which infers that the person in the photograph is endorsing a product without their consent

Here's a hypothetical situation where you could be in trouble: You go to a private party and take a pic and share it to social media and someone in the photo didn't want anyone to know they were at that party. Or, what if you took a pic that showed medication on a counter that revealed a medical condition that someone wanted private? See how quickly you can unintentionally be in jeopardy? It's a slippery slope.

One fact they shared which I was not aware of involved the "publication of a photo" doesn't necessarily mean posted to a website, but can also include shared amongst a group of people.

The entire article is an interesting read if you take a lot of photos in public to know when you might possibly be jeopardizing yourself legally. Now that we live in a digital world where nearly every device has a camera and there are a multitude of social media platforms, you can never be too careful to not cross a legal boundary.

Let me emphasize again that if you have real legal concerns about photos you take, you need to talk to a real lawyer. It could cost you a fortune if you cross a privacy line you're not supposed to.

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