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Old Sep 23, 2009, 1:18 PM   #1
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Default Posting Street Photography -- Good or Bad?

Id like to get your opinion on whether shooting people on the street, who are unaware or not of being photographed, and having those pics posted on the internet, should be permitted. Whether there is a law to prevent it or not, there is a responsible moral issue as I see it. There are many reasons for not allowing it to happen. Its one thing to take pics of unaware people for personal use. But to put them on the internet seems to be really a bad thing to me. If just one battered woman's husband finds her, or some thug who wants revenge for his father being sent to jail, finds the eye witness, then it just doesnt seem worth it to me. Now nobody should be allowed to prevent me from me photographing WHATEVER I want. But there should be some kind of control over WHO I can photograph under certain conditions. Street scenes as the main subject with people as a minor subject would be ok. But the shooting of people in the street as the main subject for instant posting just seems wrong. Does this concern you or am I just being overly concerned?
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 1:53 PM   #2
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Interesting topic. For me, I prefer not to do it because I find it an invasion of privacy. But at the same time I think back and I do from time to time capture people in an image. And they can be recognizable. I did so when I was in India on business because I felt it was helpful in telling the story to people back here in the States. Sometimes I asked to take the photo but not always. So maybe I'm a bit of a hypocrite. I will say though that I would never post a photo of a person that portrays them in a negative light - of course the exception being my sports photos - if someone is getting dunked on, that photo doesn't put them in a positive light. But, I think that's a bit different. People in sports know and understand this happens (despite the Nike / Lebron fiasco at his training camp) and that's just part of the game. But in the context of what most people think of when talking about 'streed photography' I guess I'm undecided about whether or not I'm OK with it if they're portrayed in a positive light. BUt I can certainly understand a privacy issue - some people HATE having their picture taken and the thought that it was a clear photo out there in cyber-space for all to see would probably make them pretty angry. All in all, I'll be interested to see how others reply.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 3:22 PM   #3
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Im not categorically against photographing people. Sports action is ok. Im sure all the team players know there are cameras on them and can expect no less. Especially when they miss that goal or during some other exciting moment. Besides that the faces are usually in some contorted position to make them unrecognizable even to their own mothers. Whether people in the street are shot favorably or unfavorably is not the point. Its whether anyone has the right to stick a camera in your face, take your picture and post it on the internet and being treated like you are nothing more than a tree or a table. And who is to decide what is favorable or unfavorable? Perhaps that woman doesnt want the world to see her without her makeup on.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 4:33 PM   #4
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for myself, as long as the person is not the focus of the photograph, then I most likely would not ask their permission to shoot or keep the photo. also if they are not immediately recognizable then for me I have no problem shooting it. some examples are if you are shooting a nice mural on a wall or something, and a lady walks by dressed in something that hightlights or meshes with the wall. if she is a considerable distance away and not looking at the camera, then I dont have a problem shooting it and not saying anything. she is an element of the photo, but her face is not the focus.

if i were shooting some street portrait type work, or shots where the person is the focus of the picture. i would feel compelled to at least let them know, either after the fact if the moment of the shot deemed it necessary, or prior to shooting it, if I want to do a street portrait, etc.

that is how i approach this type of photography.

as for what is morally or legally correct. there is just so many variables that play into it. i.e. the culture of the country you are shooting, etc.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 4:49 PM   #5
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When you go out in PUBLIC, every action on your part is revealed to everyone who is there to see you. How can your actions in public be private if everyone can see them? How can it be "an invasion of privacy?"

In this sense the law is clear - You CAN photograph anyone you want to at any time, as long as they are in a public place. What about posting or publishing such images?

If you are NOT a public figure you are protected in some ways from seeing your picture in a book, or on the net. If a picture can be demonstrated as "causing harm," the photographer might be subject to legal action. So if someone is photographed falling down drunk outside a bar, and that image is posted or published - That can indeed cause harm. It can be construed as saying that the subject is an alcoholic, a bum, etc, etc. All of which even if true can still be thought of as causing harm.

(All of this refers to US law, I make no claims of knowing what the law is in other countries)

Those who publish books on street photography are well advised to have their photographs examined by a lawyer.

Now in our age, everyone is photographed All The Time by stores, by building owners, by the government. Do people care? Do these photographs in some manner, don't count? And is anyone naive enough to believe that these images can't be posted on the net - But in THIS case totally anoymously, with no recourse of the subject to claim legal damages?

The arguments about abusive husbands and witness protection plans is silly at best; if one chooses to give up an activity because mathamatically there is a statistical chance of harm, there are plenty of things that come before photography to outlaw. Fishing pulls out eyes, hundreds of hunters shoot themselves every year; I need not say how many are killed in car accidents.

The Mob doesn't scan the net looking for victims, and if they did, how would a photograph of a person, tell them where the person was?

There has always been an irrational fear of photography; we are now living in a period where because of terrorism, and child pornography, it has been given a new stimulous. But the irrational should never be the criteria for making decisions. Giving in to the irrational is always a slippery slope, always the argument to restrict rights. It's all well and good to point out that civility is nice, and if someone doesn't want their picture taken, that can certainly ask, and common curtesy would and should be a factor in human relations. So what?

If you don't want to be seen in public, don't go out in public.

Dave

Last edited by Chato; Sep 23, 2009 at 4:50 PM. Reason: adding an addendum
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 6:29 PM   #6
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Laws are usually enacted as a backlash to some event which pisses off a lot of people. Digital photography and the speed by which the pictures reach the computers of millions of people simultaneously is mind boggling and there are no laws to protect average people from being photographed by individuals with ulterior motives for their picture taking. I agree we are being photographed constantly in large cities but those photos are never seen by anyone for the most part. Only if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and those photos are scrutinized by law enforcement do they get seen. Its individuals with a camera that feel they have the right to take pictures of anyone they want with or without permission and post those pictures on the internet as quick as they can just doesnt seem right to me. Pictures of the city buildings, streets etc where people are more an annoyance being in the picture rather than being the focus of the photo is ok because they interrupted your right to photograph some object be it a building, sculpture etc. Its just when people become the focus for the photographers amusement that it doesnt seem right. In the past photographs were taken and stored in a box for years until they come to light and show a vibrant city and its people and become historical records. People probably long dead or too old for it to matter. The problem I see is that the now those same photos are instantaneously shown to millions of people without any input from those being displayed.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 7:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bynx View Post
Laws are usually enacted as a backlash to some event which pisses off a lot of people. Digital photography and the speed by which the pictures reach the computers of millions of people simultaneously is mind boggling and there are no laws to protect average people from being photographed by individuals with ulterior motives for their picture taking. I agree we are being photographed constantly in large cities but those photos are never seen by anyone for the most part. Only if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and those photos are scrutinized by law enforcement do they get seen. Its individuals with a camera that feel they have the right to take pictures of anyone they want with or without permission and post those pictures on the internet as quick as they can just doesnt seem right to me. Pictures of the city buildings, streets etc where people are more an annoyance being in the picture rather than being the focus of the photo is ok because they interrupted your right to photograph some object be it a building, sculpture etc. Its just when people become the focus for the photographers amusement that it doesnt seem right. In the past photographs were taken and stored in a box for years until they come to light and show a vibrant city and its people and become historical records. People probably long dead or too old for it to matter. The problem I see is that the now those same photos are instantaneously shown to millions of people without any input from those being displayed.
Legally, sneaking into a bathroom is a criminal offense. Using a telephoto lens to shoot someone through a window is a criminal offense. I could post a list. In other words, invading someones privacy, i.e. where you believe you have "A reasonable expectation of privacy," is the law of the land (US of course). I fully support these laws.

Is your privacy violated when the Daily News (or any other newspaper) posts photographs of people walking in the street?

I don't see ANY problem.

You are making a distinction between being seen by ten people or a million. While I wont post photographs on this thread, I can indeed post photographs of people who are being seen by thousands. Do they care?

Then why should they care if it's on the net?

In my case, none of the images I take are meant to highlight anything illicit, immoral, silly, or even personally revealing - The law as it stands now protects anyone from either posting on the net, or publishing in a book, if such a photograph is judged to be causing harm to the subject.

You've seen about twenty five of my images. Is there ONE that causes harm to the reputation of the subject? One?

Is there One that is demeaning? One?

When I was a kid, very few cared about being photographed. True, we now have the net - True and so what? Do you scan the net for such images? Who scans the net for such images - And if you DID see such an image, would it even occur to you to study it from the point of view of rediculing the subject?

And once again, the majority of harmful shots released in the net are done so anonymously, and MANY are in fact from one of these ubiquitous government or public sources.

What then about someone who is quite happy to publicly say, "I took this shot?"

You have said it would anger you to see yourself in an innocent moment, posted on the net. I would like you to pause and answer WHY?

Why would a picture of you, let us say, crossing the street, cause such anger? You who are perused and examined by some hack employee, are suddenly upset over someone who shoots without the intent of causing harm.

I must say, I am photographed by people a dozen times a day (because of my "attractive nuisance dog"). Most of whom do ask permission. "Why bother," I always tell them.

Dave
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 9:22 PM   #8
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120 people look at this thread and no one has a thing to say for or against. Absolutely pathetic.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 9:44 PM   #9
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This can be a very divisive issue. On the one hand is the right of a person to a modicum of privacy - "The right to be let alone." as one of our chief justices put it. On the other hand is the right to a free press, which is something more now than newpapers and television.
If a picture is found on the web disclosing the location at a given time, of a person who is supposed to be somewhere else, or whose situation is such that another could concievably use the information for harm, the photographer might be liable, in some way.
If you don't wish to have photographs taken of you while you are in public places, you could possibly wear a mask or veil, though in some jurisdictions, this is, in itself against the law.
I have seen, in my lifetime thus far, a diminution of freedom in the U.S.A. There are quite a lot of people now who seem to think that a desire for privacy is, somehow sinister. Younger people, particularly, seem to not even have the concept.
Personally, I don't post for public consumption, recognizable pictures of others unless I have explicit permission. (except for my cat)

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Old Sep 23, 2009, 10:11 PM   #10
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I agree in principle with you, Bynx. I also agree with Dave. As a US citizen, I can expect privacy in my own home, with the blinds drawn. Almost everywhere else, I am fair game. Recently in my town a man was brought to court for an "upskirt" view he took at a local bookstore chain. He was basically let go, because the law was too vague. Naturally, the young lady was upset, but to no avail. It was determined that, although he acted like a jerk, she had no reasonable expectation of privacy in a bookstore, which is a public place.

I agree that it would depend on the usage of the photo as to whether it "violated" someone's right to privacy. I have shot candids at local events, like our annual "mullet toss", where people are drinking and acting somewhat foolish. Being on the beach, the photo ops are fantastic. What I do with those photos, as opposed to my right to take them, is a horse of a different color. If I snap a young bikini-clad girl who is tipsy and having a "wardrobe malfunction", I feel a moral obligation to keep that shot private, and not post it on the web anywhere. I would expect no less in return.

Common sense should come into play as well. Never shoot pics of small children unless you are related to them or they are with parents who are okay with it.

There will always be a debate on this subiect, and I always use the Golden Rule, which applies to almost everything. Treat others the way you would have them treat YOU..

Robert
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