Street Photography & Privacy

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    Topic: Street Photography & Privacy Read 193 Times
  • Donna Joslyn
    Donna Joslyn
    Participant
    Posts: 2
    Street
    on: October 25, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    I love street photography. But I’m in a quandary. When taking pictures of people whose faces are clearly in the picture, what do I do? Do I get permission before the fact? In which case, it’s posed, no longer serendipitous? Do I ask permission after the shot, and delete it if they say No? Do I take it anyway, and never publish it? What do people do?

     

    Christopher Sanderson
    Christopher Sanderson
    Gold Member
    Posts: 353
    Re: Street Photography & Privacy
    Reply #1 on: October 26, 2023 at 9:41 am

    It very much depends on your location. Some countries have strong privacy laws and the street photographer’s choice of subject can be severely constrained. Some cultures have a strong expectation of privacy and again opportunities for street photography are few.

    If there is one idea about this issue to hold onto, it may be that you restrict your photography to locations where you know that the expectation of privacy is low. Examples might be a busy fun fair or street festival, perhaps a social gathering of like-minded people where the mood is light. Be guided by eye contact. If you feel through a look or a glance that you are intruding on a person’s privacy, you likely are – so smile and retreat. Stay light on your feet, work fast and avoid obviously long lenses that ‘intrude’ and shout ‘paparazzi!’

    Chris Kern
    Chris Kern
    Participant
    Posts: 53
    Re: Street Photography & Privacy
    Reply #2 on: October 26, 2023 at 5:22 pm

    Excellent point.  One addendum: if the faces of children will be visible and their parents are onsite, I ask permission of the parents.  (If the parents aren’t available, I either don’t make the shot or—when it’s feasible—frame the picture so the kids’ faces aren’t identifiable.)

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    https://www.flickr.com/photos/chriskernpix/albums/72177720314899467

    Jeff Neuffer
    Jeff Neuffer
    Participant
    Posts: 2
    Re: Street Photography & Privacy
    Reply #3 on: March 4, 2024 at 12:06 pm

    I’m glad to read this question and see the responses.  I’ve often wondered the same question.  Since I value people respecting my wishes, I feel strongly in providing the same respect to others, ergo, respecting their wish for privacy.

    Russ Lewis
    Russ Lewis
    Silver Member
    Posts: 2646
    Re: Street Photography & Privacy
    Reply #4 on: March 4, 2024 at 4:15 pm

    Hi Donna,

    There’s a copy of this on PhotoPXL, but I haven’t time to hunt for it. Go to http://www.russ-lewis.com/essays/OnStreetPhotography.pdf.

    Thank the Lord, if you’re out in public in the United States you have no expectation of privacy, so as a photographer you’re free to bang away. Happily, there were no restrictive laws when Henri Cartier-Bresson defined street photography and showed everyone what it is.

    There are other street photography articles of mine on PXL. If you’re interested, you can access them from the “Essays and Articles” index on my site.

    Good luck with your shooting. Street photography, which properly is unposed, is the way later generations can learn what we really were like.

    Donna Joslyn
    Donna Joslyn
    Participant
    Posts: 2
    Re: Street Photography & Privacy
    Reply #5 on: March 7, 2024 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks Russ! That’s a wonderful essay, OnStreetPhotography. Well worth reading and keeping.

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