Photographer Finds Identity of Couple in ‘Last Kiss’ Photo After Internet Hunt

Photographer Mo Gelber was standing outside the Manhattan Criminal Court on August 16th when he noticed a couple being led in handcuffs toward the courthouse by two officers. Just as they were about to enter the building to be booked, the young man leaned in to his significant other for one last kiss. Gelber instinctively snapped a photograph, resulting in the picture-perfect image seen above.

Pleased with how his picture turned out, Gelber decided to enter it in the Project Imaginat10n contest put on by director Ron Howard and Canon. Out of the thousands of photo entries, only 10 will be selected as the basis for a short film series.

His photograph was well received, but Gelber soon ran into a roadblock: he was told by the contest’s staff that he needed written permission from the subjects of the photo in order to qualify for the final round, which it was being considered for.

Gelber then decided to turn to the Internet in an effort to locate the mysterious couple. After sharing the photo on his Facebook page, the story was picked up today by the Humans of New York project, where it attracted tens of thousands of likes and thousands of shares.

A short time later, Gelber was contacted by a 28-year-old woman named Alexis Creque, who identified herself and her 26-year-old boyfriend as the couple in the photo. Turns out the two were arrested after a nighttime graffiti spree in which the Creque acted as the lookout. The man is still behind bars somewhere in New York.

To further complicate matters, Creque has informed Gelber that she won’t agree to sign the paperwork until her beau is freed from prison. Gelber is hoping and praying that the man is released from police custody in the next couple days, since Saturday is his deadline for turning in the paperwork.

(via NY Daily News via Imaging Resource)

Image credit: Photograph by Mo Gelber

  • Jackson Cheese

    Great moment. And the processing gives it a very cinematic feel.

  • Dan Howard

    can they actually do that? can they actually demand that they get model releases for people out in public. doesn’t the law actually state that you are allowed to photograph people out in public spaces without written permission??

  • Canon

    does he need their permission if the shot was taken at a public place? it’s like photojournalism right?

  • Michael Zhang

    Yeah, you’re allowed to take photos of people in public, but that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you’d like with those photos. For example, people can’t take a picture of you and then decide to use your face in a national advertising campaign with your permission.

  • Timothy O’Brien

    check out his shoes/socks. but yes I like the processing..

  • Dave

    Not sure but I believe editorial photography (which category this image seems to fall under) does not need a release. The rules of the contest however, can be whatever the sponsors dictate. When in ‘sue happy’ America it is probably better to play it safe.

  • Norm Cooper

    and wouldn’t he also need permission of the Officers, too?

  • Mo Gelber

    Wow . I made it to petapixel !! I am honored. Thank you.

    As far as how I understand the laws of public photography, any shot taken in public for non-commercial purposes or for editorial purposes is allowed without a release form.

    If my photo wins the contest and makes it into the film , I think a release form will be needed because at that point the film will use it for commercial purposes.

    The gray area is the cops. Since they are public officials doing their job, I dont think they have to sign a release form. For example, if someone took a photo of a governor at a state function and then put the photo in a book and sold it, I dont think the governor could sue if he didnt sign a release form because while he is doing his job he is public property.If he was on vacation with his family then maybe that photo could not be sold without a release form.

    Another gray area is celebrities and newsworthy individuals. I always wondered how the paparazzi and the national enquirer can print embarrassing photos of celebrities for commercial purposes. I am sure the celebrities didnt sign a release form.

    If anyone has more information that can help me concerning release forms for the cops. please respond in the comments.I will read them in the morning.

    Thank you.

  • Eddie

    Yes. They can do that. It’s the rules of the contest. Doesn’t have anything to do with “the law”. If Ron Howard and Canon want to impose additional restrictions on the photographer in order to simplify their own legal status (or for creative and artist reasons, or for marketing purposes or their own amusement) they may do so.

  • rtfe

    it’s funny how gelber is concerned about the man being released from police custody, so that he can make his own deadline.

  • joan

    moe why don’t you go to where he was processed and see if the officers will release the information? or tell her they/he are more likely to gain notoriety if you “guys” win. or do a reenactment.
    i guess you have to find the officers as well.
    good luck!

  • 9inchnail

    Sorry, but this is a total dick move. Posting their photo all over the internet withour their permission. I mean, it’s not a cute picture of people kissing, they are being charged for a felony and now everybody has seen them. Really increases their chances when they apply for a job or something like that.
    And now you’re waiting for the dude’s permission to get your 15 minutes of fame. What if he doesn’t give permission? He’s already all over the web. I would ask the police to keep the cell free for me cause I’d be back for manslaughter.
    I do street photography and I don’t ask for permission but I don’t take photos that might have negative effects on the subjects. That’s just not cool.

  • Christopher Matthiae

    Speaking of processing… I would imagine most jurisdictions remove a prisoners shoe strings at processing because of suicide attempts.

  • Mo Gelber

    everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. They havent been charged with any felonies.They are only accused of writing graffiti art on a public wall.

  • Mo Gelber

    seriously , the girl in the photo contacted me and loved the photo. You seem more upset than them.

  • jessica

    shame she doesn’t support a fellow artist.. its not like they’re going to release her beau to get her signature!

  • harumph

    Legally speaking, you wouldn’t have to get anybody’s permission to show the photo, or to even sell it. You’d only need a model release if the shot was being used to sell a product (book cover, print ad, etc). However, the contest probably has their own rules about model releases, so by participating in the contest, you are agreeing to abide by their rules. Their rules may not have anything at all to do with the law. They’re just contest rules. But in order to win the contest, you obviously have to play by their rules.

  • harumph

    I’m just repeating what I wrote above (and what Eddie wrote), but the only thing that really matters here is what the contest rules state. The contest rules might be more restrictive than any actual laws, but the photographer would have had to have agreed to those rules in order to enter the contest.

  • Mike

    Get off your soap box, you don’t need permission. The people in the photo committed the crime not Mo.

  • Tomi Tarkin

    Congrats! For the great shot that has a story and PetaPixel visibility. They should get their story told to the world, and not only be used as a source of inspiration for some irrelevant Hollywood fiction. :)

  • Tomi Tarkin

    They are able to cash in their own 15 minutes of fame also one way or another, don’t you think? They haven’t killed anybody or robbed a bank despite the story mentioned Bonny & Clyde as a reference. Maybe the high profile or public offices might shun them as employee applicants because of this, but after all graffiti is pretty such a petty crime, more of an art form actually that this will make rather minimal difference in their lives. I believe this picture will make these two heroes for the youth of similar tastes and life style choices eventually. They could also start their own brand of streetwear designs having artistic skills, and now fame as well to backup them if everything else might fail. Opportunites are endless if one just looks forward and makes the best of things, imho.. ;)

  • 342342423

    simply shut up and join a nazi state…. oh sorry you already live in one?

  • Henning Nilsen

    Ignore him. It’s an excellent photo and you have every right to post it.
    They were in public space, making them fair game.

  • Frank C. Grace

    Great photo.

    However, Canon did ask the potential finalists to not spread the news regarding their photos being chosen. Canon must not be too happy.

    From the company representing Canon for the contest: ”
    As a reminder, please keep this information confidential until we let you know it can be made public.”

    Still though, great photo.

  • C.K. Lee

    This post just illustrates there’s always going to be some opinion or feeling that runs counter to the mainstream; whether right or wrong it’s good to hear them aired out, we’re all better informed for knowing what the other side is. Who knows, the argument might change your mind.

  • Seahawks

    What shocks me most about this is…they were in jail for doing graffiti?!?! And the guy is *still* in jail weeks later? What sort of madness is happening in New York? (is this common to the US? what a waste of police time and resources!)

  • Boyd

    Wow, really great shot! I hope everything will be fixed in time

  • Lexplex

    Isn’t that Joseph Fiennes? :-)

  • buchananimagery

    Her expression is priceless. I love it!

  • Mansgame

    You realize that mugshots are all public record too, right?

  • Mansgame

    Great picture, but I hope any time this couple is googled for their lifetime, this picture shows up. I hope employers see that they’re about to hire a couple of people who destroy public and private property (allegedly) with their graffiti. It seems like a joke, but it’s not funny to the property owners or people who have to clean it up.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Indeed, the depth to which law in the western world has fallen is shocking. But what can we actually do about it?

    Those whose job it is to represent us are too busy accepting bribes (oh, sorry, “campaign contributions”) and being corporate puppets to have our interests in mind. Those who attempt to take revolutionary steps are vilified as criminals or terrorists or given some other buzzword label to provoke fear in the stupefied masses.

  • harumph

    Certain cities are more insane about graffiti than others. NYC happens to be particularly aggressive. Portland, OR is also way out of control when it comes to arresting and prosecuting graffiti artists.The police force puts a ton of resources into combating it. On the other hand, Portland has more publicly funded murals than any other U.S. city of its size, so they fight the “vandalism” in ways that are positive as well.

    But jail time for graffiti is idiotic.

  • 9inchnail

    They are? Wow, America sucks more than I thought. Even criminals have certain rights, at least in Europe. Guess, America has a different angle on that matter.

  • friend

    I thought the same thing too. Legal rights if you are in public, you don’t need written consent.

  • Jackson Cheese

    Yeah, because people should be punished forever for dumb & petty crap they did when they were young.

  • Mantis

    That girl has the word “Trouble” written all over her, but I still think she’s sexy as hell.

  • mfte

    They’re in their late 20’s. I doubt they really care about a career if they’re uneducated and still engaging in childish vandalism at 26 & 28.

  • Right winger TEA party guy

    Or union puppets or environmentalist wacko puppets or wacked socialist, communist puppets or leftist freedom taking sh!t heads…

  • br40oz

    Dumb hipsters

  • Bernd Jendrissek

    I don’t think @9inchnail is ranting about law, but rather about ethics. All that is legal is not necessarily ethical. I would tend to agree that it’s a dick move, except for the fact that the girl seems to be cool with it, sorta after-the-fact justifying it all.