Street shooting and privacy

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by douglas k., Oct 2, 2002.

  1. There have been several threads relating to the rights of street
    shooters vs. subjects, with some people (me included) opining that
    photographers have the right (ethical & legal) to photograph
    strangers, and other people arguing that those strangers deserve some
    privacy. This past Sunday the New York Times ran a front-page article
    titled "As Security Cameras Sprout, Someone's Always Watching." Among
    the statistics cited are these: "A survey of Manhattan in 1998 by the
    American Civil Liberties Union found 2,397 cameras fixed on places
    where people pass or gather...All but 270 were operated by private
    organizations;" and a security firm calculated that the average person
    was recorded 73 to 75 times per day in New York City. The article was
    motivated by the recent case of the woman in Indiana who was arrested
    after a shopping mall security camera caught her beating her daughter
    in the parking lot.

    So if everyone in the world is spying on us, why should street
    shooters have to "respect peoples' privacy"?
     
  2. How about simple civil behavior, and not taking from one person that which they choose to not give you ?
     
  3. Civility, yes, but let us remember that in nearly all cases, by being in a public location, they have chosen to give you that permission. This balance of privacy and freedom is simply how our country works.
     
  4. So if everyone in the world is spying on us, why should street shooters have to "respect peoples' privacy"?
    My own view is that the "right to public privacy" which seems to spring up primarily on the internet is largely the invention of the self righteous who are seeking yet another reason to cast negative judgements on those who dare to conduct their lives in an "unapproved" manner. I've been engaged in several discussions about this topic, and every time so far, those on the side of "respect" have avoided relevant questions about their position, instead relying on the repeated insistence that they're correct, appealing to "rights" which are not recognized or supported by law, and launching insults and personal attacks against any who question their position.
    There's the potential for intelligent debate on the subject, but I've grown a little too jaded to expect that I'll see it on the internet.
     
  5. Sorry, almost forgot to directly address your question. In earlier discussions, the justification offered for allowing surveillance but not street photography was that security cameras prevent crime. (While I'd agree they help in the prosecution of offenders, I question how effective they are in prevention.) When I asked why showing an interest in someone by photographing them demonstrates an unethical lack of respect but treating everyone as a potential criminal does not, I was again informed of my stupidity and low morals. ; )
     
  6. Doug's question is a good one. What if you wandered the streets with a tape recorder? Would you be violating people's privacy then? Why is taking a still photograph somehow more insensitive than panning around with a minicam, making a pencil sketch, or just watching people?

    I have never understood the arguments (heard them many times) that suggest snapping someone with a camera is an ethical or legal violation.
     
  7. Hello Doug. Your post has forced me to think about the ethics of photographing the public. I've done it myself and have a clear consience, but I believe that, like most things, it's more complicated than the arguments posted here suggest. It's very difficult to make an intelligent and focussed argument outside the context of an example. I suggest that it is more a matter of etiquette, and simple decency than the violation of someone's rights. The example sited in another post about the differences between photographing someone in public and tape recording/sketching/looking at them is a good starting point. No one suggests that you shouldn't look at people in public, but staring is universally considered rude and provocative. And would you ever consider pointing someone out in a public place and exclaim " She's beautiful" or "Look how interestingly wrinkled that man is". I don't really think that there is any mystery about how to conduct ourselves in public, and carrying a camera doesn't exempt us from the rules of decency. If you're not sure that someone wouldn't mind being photographed, don't photograph them. It's just common courtesy, the kind that we all feel that we have the right to, and are offended when denied. In short, try not to be an ass.-jdf
     
  8. Just a small aside: Britain has had security cameras by the thousands for many years, and they've recently come to the conclusion that installing more street lights is actually more effective at preventing crime.
     
  9. I agree. In the words of PeeWee Herman, take a picture, it will last longer. Pictures last longer than stares, therefore make some people uncomfortable. I also, however, think that by going outside of their houses or hovels, or wherever else these potential photographic subjects come from, there is sort of an unwritten rule that while they can do whatever they want in public, so can the rest of the world. If the rest of the world has 600mm telephotos and eos 1v-hs cameras, that the cost of living. So, because that didnt really outline my views...I am slightly torn on the topic, but will continue to take street pictures of people without their expressed permission to do so, and I will not feel guilty about it. But if someone asked me to please not print the picture, and perhaps give them or destroy the negative, I would be more than happy to do so, just as a common courtesy.
     
  10. It's called "privacy" - not "publicy." You can't be "spied on" if you are in public view.
     
  11. my take:

    most of the time for street shots, i shoot first. then i may or may
    not talk to them.
    if i want a more portrait shot or want to shoot a few shots, i usually
    talk to them first.

    other times, i don't shoot. ex. say a couple is smoooching and other
    "private" moments even though it is technically not private since they
    ARE in public.

    use your best judgement like anything else.

    what are the chances that you'll become famous enough and the subject
    is informed enough to sue you? the chances are you'll probably be dead
    before you're famous if you get famous at all.

    it seems so trivial to me. just shoot, the worst that can happen is
    getting yell and swear at.

    i went to mexcio recently and they seems to be more open about being
    photograph. people in the usa can get soo anal about being
    photograph. it's not like we are shooting bullets.

    ---bill
     
  12. And what if I manage to sell the picture to MOMA for $100k. Do I share my newfound riches with a person pictured? What if there are 200 people pictured there?
     
  13. "And what if I manage to sell the picture to MOMA for $100k." -- Is this a realistic possibility? <p>"Do I share my newfound riches with a person pictured?" -- No. You're not legally obligated to share.<p> "What if there are 200 people pictured there?" -- The answer is still no.
     
  14. 1. try NOT to look like a "stalker"
    2. dont shoot pics of gorgeous girls with overally sensative/jealous boyfriends/husbands.
    3. If you look like your sneaking, they will think your doing something wrong/evasive.
    4. Have Fun doing it and 99% of the time you wont get hasseled. but also rememebr there are those that make a moutains out of mole hills. Go with yer gut. [grin]
     
  15. While people may be marginally tolerant of "security" and it's not particularly evident that people are all that thrilled with the concept, arguing that some schmo with a camera can take their picture all he wants, when and where he wants and he can do whatever he wants with it, as long as he doesn't sell it is not going to be popular, even if it is "legal."

    Asserting this legality in aggressive, unpleasant or unpopular ways is not going to keep it legal. Smoking and drinking are a couple of behaviors that are seeing more and more restrictions in public places. That we shouldn't expect privacy in public is true. That all people will casually accept what they may (however incorrectly) assume is unwarranted and illegal intrusion is asking for trouble. Nor should we assume that just because we don't mind some things, that others won't have reason to object to it.
     
  16. So if everyone in the world is spying on us, why should street shooters have to "respect peoples' privacy"?

    Because we street shooters are humans and humans care about the privacy of the others - while people that put a camera in the street to his own safe (his building, store...) do not care about the others, only their money. The "funniest" thing of this is people saying the USA is the land of freedom! Or to be more severe with your country - people saying on tv the arabians are attacking the american freedom. Do you think you are free? The only people have privacy is the ones who controls the medias as you must know! Sorry critiquing your country but I don't like this kind of things - people saying communists wanted to bring the BIG BROTHER to our lives but until now the only ones I see bringing this to reality is the capitalists, more precisely the most rich capitalists countries! think about it!
     

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