Recently, I purchased a 75mm-300mm telephoto lens for my DSLR. Eager to click, I set out with my kit. I clicked a lot of pics, hundreds of pics on my first two outings with it. I got some good shots. Clicking pics like the ones above, is not called ‘stalking’. I knew about this as I had Googled earlier, but here are the rules if you do not know:
1. If you are in a public place that does not explicitly prohibit photography, you are free to shoot anything and anyone. However, you may not shoot people especially kids if they are engaged in sexual activities.
2. You do not violate human rights of anyone by taking their photographs without permission. This really means that you are violating their freedom of privacy, which honestly does not exist anywhere beyond their homes and private indoor spaces.
3. You do not violate their privacy if you click their photos in a public space. There is no right to privacy in a public place, with the exceptions of public toilets. Talk of CCTV cameras in public places!
4. You however need to ensure that you are allowed to take photographs on the land you or your subjects are standing.
5. You do not harass anyone by taking their photographs. However, repeatedly and deliberately chasing a person around clicking photos is considered harassment.
6. You do not need the subjects’ permissions to publish the photographs, unless it is for a commercial purpose.
7. Publishing photographs of people with captions could land you in trouble if you misidentify the subject or if the caption is unduly mocking or in false light.
Read some more rules here: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm
This, for the United States, perhaps one of the more liberal countries. For other nations, it is best to look up the rules and social customs. Even in the US, laws differ slightly for each state: for example in Texas, you cannot take a picture if it is for someone’s sexual gratification, like a shot on a nude beach!
In general, it is not illegal to take pictures of people in public settings. If I go to the Mumbai Marathon as a photographer, I cannot possibly ask permission from each and every of the hundreds of runners! It is still the best and the safest to ask people if you can click their picture, in my tiny history, I have got a 100% positive response.