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Old Sep 25, 2009, 11:40 PM   #91
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Well said Brian. I hope someone was listening.
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 2:08 AM   #92
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But on the one side of the debate we have a whole range of arguments why it is okay to do street photography. Sometimes indeed it is a highly moral and necessary activity with a range of benefits flowing to both the photographer and to society.

On the other side we simply hear:
"It's not moral, and it's disrespectful."
"Okay why?"
"It's just not and I can't and don't need to explain it, and you'd better watch out."
"But you haven't given a reason."
"I don't need a reason, I have plenty of emotion, so you'd better watch out."

Asserted over and over again with not a single credible attempt at explaining why it's not moral. Simply an attempt at proof by repeated assertion and enforcement by threat of violence.

If it was just one isolated crank who felt this way (a hypothetical Bynx for example, for the real one is a very nice chap) it wouldn't be of any interest; but a lot of people feel this way and the people on the other side are genuinely bewildered as to why.

The main attempts at an explanation seem to be:
1. It's an invasion of privacy. Even in a public place we have a right to privacy, and taking a photograph of someone is de-facto an invasion of that privacy.
2. Taking a photograph of someone in public without their consent is de-facto harassment.
3. Some harm could theoretically come of it, and it should therefore be outlawed as a precautionary measure. This seems to apply particularly to the publishing of the image on the internet.
4. It's self-evidently disrespectful to take pictures of people in public without their permission. We should pass laws to make people respect each other.

I think that about covers it, and finally, when taken as a group the above considerations are so important that it is worth giving up some of the fundamental principles of a free society (like free speech) in order to protect the public from photographers.

Can someone on the other side tell me if there is anything missing from my representation of their position?
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 3:36 AM   #93
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The only thing missing craig is the main point. Its not the taking of pictures that is objected to, but the posting of those pictures on the internet without the person being consulted. We arent trees or buildings that have no say in the pictures taken of them. And we shouldnt be treated like trees or buildings. I dont think we should have to have a reason if we dont wish our picture plastered on the internet or printed in a book for that matter. If the photographer asks if he can do it and gets the ok, thats fine. But if someone says no then the photographer should take it at that and move on. Nobody is stopping them from taking all the pictures they want. Its just what they end up doing with them that is objectionable. But according to your poll 78% of photographers take their pictures on the sly without the subject knowing their are being shot. I think that the photographer should either ask for the ok or have the moral fibre to not post it. Take another picture of anything else.

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Old Sep 26, 2009, 4:52 AM   #94
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Okay so by virtue of their sentience the subject of a representation should have veto on who views that representation?

I still don't understand, so help me more:
1. Does this apply equally to other representations where the subject is clearly recognisable? If not, why not - please give reasons?
1.1 A drawing for example.
1.2 A written description which clearly represents the subject by dint of some distinguishing feature.
1.3 An oral representation.

Should we seek permission from the subject before doing any of those things? If not, why not. Please give reasons because I don't understand. (Assume that according to the type I intend to "publish" them in some way.)

2. It's okay for the photographer to view the image in private, but not to publish it. Can you define more clearly the criteria under which the publishing becomes objectionable:
2.1 Is it the actual number and type of people that view it that matters?
2.2 Is it the potential number and type of people that view it that matters?

For example I post pictures on my flickr stream. Flickr tracks the number of views. Quite clearly many of those pictures only get viewed by 1 or 2 people or even none at all. So in fact although I'm publishing a picture which may potentially be viewed by millions, in fact none do. Is it wrong to post it because of the millions that might view it, or the two that actually do?

The basis of most moral objections is that you should not be allowed to harm other people. Clearly this kind of photography doesn't harm people, if it does then they have remedy under the law. But all kinds of activities have the potential to harm people depending on the circumstances, why is photography different? Why is it different from soccer for example? Thousands of people are seriously injured, and some even die playing soccer every year. It's also a leisure activity, like photography. Arguably it has none of the very strong potential societal benefits that photography has and yet it is clearly WAY more dangerous. I presume you don't want soccer banned. What is the difference? What is it about photography that makes it objectionable where soccer is not?

Also note that it is possible to construct an equal number of scenarios under which the subject benefits from the photograph. A modelling agency sees the picture and the person becomes a fabulously wealthy supermodel. Or a long-lost friend or relative sees the picture and gets in touch, re-uniting a family and bringing joy to all, etc.

Why shouldn't a person be treated (when it comes to photographs) like a tree? Can you explain please? Other than items 1-4 in my previous post, because you say that they miss the main point.
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 10:15 AM   #95
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This is like trying to explain why I dont believe in god. No one reads a book on what we can and cant do when with other people. We learn over years and the lessons are slightly different from one country to another as Im sure you are well aware. By your own numbers 78% take their pics of others on the sly. I would say thats because in this society its impolite and disrespectful to point your camera at someone and take their picture without at least asking. But since its on the sly that isnt necessary. Most of the time the person doesnt get caught and thats the end of it. But if caught what happens then in most cases? I dont know. I cant speak for others but I would want to know why someone is shooting me. Now this would usually only be done if the guy was clearly shooting me and not something of which I was only a small part like some tourist attraction or wonder of nature. If I knew I was being the focus of the pic(s) then I would want to know why. Whether there is a law to support that view or not I dont care. Sticking a camera in my face and taking my picture without some acknowledgement is to me, a hostile act and disrespectful and I will respond in kind. If its not wrong then why be sneaky about taking the pic? How hard is it to say "Excuse me, do you mind?" And if you get the ok, which would probably be most of the time, then take your picture. Otherwise move on and shoot someone else. Ive explained this as clearly as I can and if you cant see it then so be it. As Ive already said, Ive never given this subject a thought before seeing the series of Stranger Shots posted here. Looking at them I started to realize it wasnt right. That got me to thinking some more and thus, here we are. In the future I will be more aware of people lurking behind bushes and hiding in cars taking their pictures and wonder if those pics will be on the internet by the time I get home. And while I might not have explained myself to your satisfaction Im not alone in my feelings. I really dont know why it makes me angry. Im not sure whether its the arrogance of the photographer or the disrespect being treated like an inanimate object. And for the last time I will just say, as a photographer, do whatever you want, take pictures of whoever you want but when it comes to using those pics for mass distribution then, unless you've asked, just leave me or my family out of it.
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 12:48 PM   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
The way I see this debate is that the parties are talking past each other. On one side is the issue of 'rights' and 'harm', while on the other is the issue of respect for the persons who are the subject of the photographs.
Statistics and polls do not create the right or wrong on this issue. Not relevant.
Laws, in the U.S. get changed or created in response to situations. Usually some very emotional public issue. This is one. Current law could very well be changed unless people with cameras show some restraint. Case in point is the issue of 'sexting' among high school age and younger people. Current law defines this, in most cases, as child pornography, possesion of which gets one registered as a sex offender, for life. A number of states are attempting to amend their laws to reflect a more reasonable attitude, or at least what the lawmakers can manage to agree on as reasonable.
Obviously to one extent or another, we are talking past each other, but the word "rights" is being dismissed as irrelevant, or in some manner not a real right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
Dave. I understand your arguments thoroughly, but also know that it is the adamant insistence on 'rights', as opposed to a responsible attitude, which will more quickly get the laws changed to be less favorable.

brian
I have the right to publish an essay critical of you. Filled with slander, lies and innuendos. Would you wish to pass laws preventing such a column? Would you give targets of such articles, the Right to prevent such publication? What effect would this have on your ability to learn about events?

What if I stood on a street corner, mounted on my soap box and lied about you with a bullhorn? Should we pass laws making the targets of such speech able to have you arrested for "lying" about them?

Your argument about photography can equally be applied to the press: to the spoken word, to the radio and television media. Shouldn't there be more responsibility over this right of free speech? No offense to those who are Conservatives, but why can't I ban Glen Beck from television? In my opinion he's abusing the right of free speech...

And if I get my way and Mr. Beck is banned - What then?

Our free society provides remedies to slander and libel. Moreover, those who are NOT celebrities have far more protections then someone like Mr. Beck - He can slander some leftist politician without a care - but he cannot slander me without at least risking a stiff penalty.

In order to examine the question of Photographers Rights, now considered as much protected by the First Amendment, as any other kind of speech, one has to first eliminate the Magical element from the discussion. The attitute where in some manner the persons image is independant of the person.

Now mark this:

There are always those who abuse a right. We accept this fact, because a right cannot be so narrowly interpreted that outlawing the right of one doesn't become outlawing the rights of all. Unless you keep the magical element into this discussion, than the only legal questions have all been settled a long time ago.

If a state or a locality passes laws which more actively prosecute those who TRULY invade privacy, (the upskirt artist, the person peering into windows, etc, etc) I have no problems with such laws. But that is not the question here. Those who are offended by any kind of speech, racist, sexist, leftist, rightist; who regard such speech as immoral, provocative, WRONG, are just going to have to accept the fact that we live in a free society. And those who are offended by their image being published, will, unless there is a violation of THEIR rights, just have to accept it.

You have no right to stop me taking pictures because the concept offends you, anymore than you have the right to stop a speaker, whom you are forced to listen to because of where you are in public.

Thanks for your coherent and thoughtful post. But in all sincerety and no offense intended, I don't believe you have understood the nature of my reasoning.

Dave
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 1:26 PM   #97
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The problem for street photographers is that if you ask permission you have ruined the photograph because then you get a naff smile and pose. So photographically you might as well not bother.

The other reason of course is that there are so many people who completely miss the point of street photography. To the street photographer it is mostly not disrespectful. Pictures are taken because they find people interesting or charming or fascinating or funny. The street photographer usually if anything is flattering the person.

The street photographer is usually not arrogant either. Only the gonzo style ones are "in your face", the others try to capture a "decisive moment" by carefully observing the world and not interfering, it is an act which is the very opposite of arrogance. It is saying that you are important enough to photograph.

Fortunately we are protected by law from violent and irrational actions by people who are so arrogant and disrespectful of others that they believe that no-one should be allowed to take photographs of them. See how that argument goes? You say they are arrogant and disrespectful, they say you are arrogant and disrespectful. Stalemate unless one party becomes violent.

At any rate clearly you are unable to debate the issue beyond repeatedly asserting your position and have no notion of the rational philosophical underpinnings of our codes of morality or your own. When one party to the debate does nothing more than repeat an assertion every time it is their turn to speak and completely ignores all attempts to engage with a rational discussion then there is no point in continuing.

So just to be sure I understand this...

On our side of the debate, we have at our shoulders Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire, Mill, Kant, Rawls, Nozick, the founding fathers, the supreme court, (and I'm fairly sure from reading some of their stuff) the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury. At your shoulder there is whom? And you are willing to threaten violence to your fellow citizens in the lawful and harmless pursuit of their own happiness by making art. But we are the arrogant and disrespectful side of the debate?

Okay got it.
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 1:31 PM   #98
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Chato, let me quote:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As absolutely nothing guaranties me that your picks of mine are ‘secure’ for my person, you are violating the Four Amendment. Nothing less. Serious stuff.
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 1:45 PM   #99
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Quote:
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Chato, let me quote:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As absolutely nothing guaranties me that your picks of mine are ‘secure’ for my person, you are violating the Four Amendment. Nothing less. Serious stuff.
Err, your interpretation of the above, can only mean that I am not allowed to look at you. Looking at you is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

No offesne but Any picture I take, is MY picture not yours. If you run over and rip my camera out of my hands, you are violating My privacy.

If your visual image is in and of itself an invasion of your privacy, then it matters little if it's my eyeballs or my camera which sees you.

If the Daily News has a picture of you (and every day they have images of hundreds of people) your privacy has not been invaded. Only if they take you down, go through your pockets, and examine the objective THINGS that you deliberately hide from view, is your privacy being violated.

Look. If I'm selling a camera accessory, and post a picture of you saying, "Our product is so good that this world famous photographer uses it every day," am I in violation of laws. I have just linked (not YOUR image) but your person itself to a product that you may care nothing of - And you're not even getting a dime. The "release" is not to protect your privacy, but your basic human rights. You don't get it? In this case, it's NOT your image being displayed which is the violation - It's the direct link to your PERSON which is the violation.

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Old Sep 26, 2009, 1:50 PM   #100
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If I have a right to see something, I have a right to photograph it.

That said, I don't have a right to violate someone's privacy, whether I photograph them or not.

That said, if I happen to photograph someone where they shouldn't have been, or in a compromising situation, that is and should be inconsequential for me.

That said, any attempt to restrict my ability to photograph something or someone I have a right to see, is unjust. Likewise, any attempt to limit my ability to do with my photograph as I see fit, is equally unjust.

That said, I do, however, have a moral obligation to be courteous and respectful, which, I believe, supersedes my rights.

So, if I take a photograph of a stranger in a public place, I feel no obligation to self-censor my photograph unless they're chewing with their mouth open or picking their nose.
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