I'm a hobbyist photographer that enjoys traveling (combines very well, I can assure you). Usually I just post the pictures I take on social media, but I'm also considering selling some of the better shots or using them in other ways to generate revenue. So far, my photographs have only been taken in Europe, which should be completely fine, since I'm a EU citizen. I'm wondering about going abroad though.

Can I sell or otherwise use photographs for revenue taken on a tourist visa or other visit that does not allow work (trip fully intended for tourism, photography is just my hobby after all)?

I'm hoping for an as general answer as possible, but I'm okay with just the rules for the USA, if that is difficult.

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    Maybe this is a better fit for Photography? – simbabque Aug 12 '16 at 13:45
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    @simbabque I think it's on topic on both sites, but I actually think it's a better fit here, since it considers visa laws, which people here seem to be very knowledgable of. But I could be mistaken, I'm not very familiar with that SE, will certainly have a look. – Belle Aug 12 '16 at 13:56
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    I have a feeling that the semi-pros there have done that a lot though. – simbabque Aug 12 '16 at 14:17
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    @pnuts and on a question with 2 answers too. Accepting pnuts's answer now, it's pretty good, basically answers my question. Fiksdal's is very helpful too, though! – Belle Aug 12 '16 at 18:44
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    @pnuts sure, but why? – Belle Aug 13 '16 at 8:06

It's difficult to give a concrete, sourced answer to this without knowing which country we're talking about.

However, in most cases, I wouldn't worry about it if I was you, as long as your main intention is tourism. If you're very keen on being careful, you could contact the embassy of whatever country you're going to visit. But this has the very real danger of complicating the visa application process when the time comes. Maybe ask them after you've returned? (Thanks @TomAu)

The situation might change a little if you become known as someone selling photographs on the side (For example, if you have a website, etc.) This still seems very unlikely, though, but some countries will demand that all persons who are known to work in related professions visit on a journalist visa, regardless what they claim any given trip is for. For example, two years ago my mother, who works in publishing, wanted to visit India, purely as a tourist. The Indian Embassy demanded that, due to her profession, she did so on a journalist visa, regardless of her stated intentions for the trip.

Now, since you probably aren't working in media, even this wouldn't apply to you. But if you got into the habit of selling photographs, had a website, or were otherwise known as someone making money from photography, it's not impossible (though still very unlikely) that it could happen.

Mostly though, if the main intention of your trip is tourism, most countries won't mind, let alone notice, if you happen to end up selling some of the photos you took as a tourist. I find it extremely unlikely that any government is gonna track down an amateur photographer after a trip and say "Hey, what kind of visa were you on when you took that photo?" And even if it did happen, it's such a gray area that you'd be unlikely to get anything worse than a warning.

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    @pnuts Yeah, I guess I got the idea that OP was planning to start some sort of for-profit amateur photography practice on the side. I've made some edits. – Fiksdal Aug 12 '16 at 14:29
  • @pnuts Yeah, one thing could lead to another. – Fiksdal Aug 12 '16 at 14:32
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    The trick is to contact the embassy after the visit (not before), but before the publication of the photos. – Tom Au Aug 12 '16 at 15:29
  • @TomAu Very good idea. You could make that an answer. If not, I can also add it to my answer. – Fiksdal Aug 12 '16 at 16:26
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    @pnuts Yes. And such a government might also not care what type of visa you were on. – Fiksdal Aug 12 '16 at 18:26

It probably depends on the place and locations and countries.

For example, The Eiffel Tower in Paris; you can take daylight pictures of the tower, and they are free for personal use, but if you intend to make money out of them (thus becoming a professional), you need to ask them.

"The image of the Eiffel Tower by day falls within the public domain: its use is rights-free, and may therefore be reproduced without prior authorisation by the SETE, the managing company of the image of the Eiffel Tower on behalf of the Mairie de Paris."

But lower :

"Views of the Eiffel Tower taken by private individuals for private use do not require prior agreement. However, professionals must contact our teams, who will inform them of the conditions of use governing images."


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    But for the Eiffel tower, does it matter what type of visa OP has, as in the question? (Of course, OP is European and wouldn't need a visa for Paris, but let's say it was someone else.) – Fiksdal Aug 12 '16 at 19:00
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    This does not answer the question as it is about owners of rights while the question is about visa. – Willeke Aug 12 '16 at 19:00

Note that in the US, if the photo focuses it's attention on particular people, you may need model releases before the picture can be published. I don't know what the equivalent would be elsewhere.

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    Do you have any references to support this assertion? Does it apply to pictures taken in the US and published elsewhere, or pictures taken elsewhere and published in the US? – phoog Aug 12 '16 at 22:01
  • No, that's a copyright-like concept -- people essentially have copyright on their own likeness, unless they are public figures and in public. – keshlam Aug 12 '16 at 22:03
  • That's what I am answering. In the US, if it is taking place in public -- which does not necessarily include private property such as shopping malls and museums and government installations; ask first if in any doubt -- you can take pictures for your own memories and amusement. You may or may not be able to publish those pics without explicit permission, depending on what the subject of the picture was. I have a gorgeous photo of a friend's niece hanging on my wall that I could undoubtedly sell -- except that I don't know where to contact her to get the model release signed. – keshlam Aug 12 '16 at 22:49
  • Note that the issue is publication. As with copyright, publication is independent of whether you get paid, so I can't post my example on the web either until I get that release. – keshlam Aug 12 '16 at 22:52
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    @keshlam This question isn't about all that, though. It's about what's legal on a certain visa. – Fiksdal Aug 12 '16 at 23:00

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