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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Street Photography
Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
Roger Hicks
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Street Photography

I've just started writing for Johnny Mobasher's streetphotography.com, which I can commend to anyone who is interested in street photography even if you don't want to read my stuff. So far there there are three short pieces up. They deal with getting used to carrying a camera on the street; getting comfortable with shooting people; and choosing kit.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #2
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Bookmarked, thanks!
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #3
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Bookmarked! Looking forward to perusing. And how the heck did we get that URL? Would have certainly thought that one was gone long ago.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #4
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Bookmarked! Looking forward to perusing. And how the heck did we get that URL? Would have certainly thought that one was gone long ago.
Dear Nick,

It was. Then it came up for sale. The background is explained on the site: http://streetphotography.com/about/

Cheers,

R.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #5
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Okay, I'll bite! Bookmarked.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #6
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Dear Nick,

It was. Then it came up for sale. The background is explained on the site: http://streetphotography.com/about/

Cheers,

R.
Luuuukeeeey! Wow. Use that URL to sell stuff in addition to (sure to be great) content! Swag, cameras, used gear. Don't be British (reserved) about this, be US capitalist crass! (In addition to great content
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #7
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Luuuukeeeey! Wow. Use that URL to sell stuff in addition to (sure to be great) content! Swag, cameras, used gear. Don't be British (reserved) about this, be US capitalist crass! (In addition to great content
Dear Nick,

With your permission I'll copy that and pass it on to Johnny (the owner of the site). Or write to him and suggest it yourself!

Incidentally, there are now two more of my pieces up: I know it when I see it and a little bit about Arles.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #8
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How is it even possible to use this site?

Their terms and conditions for uploaded content state "[you must not upload or download anything which] contains images of individuals who have not given their permission to feature in any image".

http://streetphotography.com/terms-and-conditions/

I suspect that I just violated their T&C just by looking at their own front page...
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #9
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So the question is: did Roger, Sergio, Michael, Jill Freeman, etc. get model releases from the individuals of whom they posted images in their articles? Does "permission" for the purposes of the Terms and Conditions include "legally entitled" or "tacit permission" by appearing in public?

The T&C also provides:

"By breaching provisions 7.4.4, 7.4.5 and 7.4.6, you may be committing a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990."

Fortunately, there are no provisions 7.4.4, 7.4.5, or 7.4.6, so you are safe there.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #10
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Bookmark added. Interesting content.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #11
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I certainly enjoy reading your writing far more than I do Ansel Adams. For a guy with such a fun, party-hearty, reputation his writing is pretty stiff.

I really enjoy viewing street photographs and I am sincerely in awe of those who seem to be so much at ease with the genre. Though I continue to try, and I will be trying out some of your own suggestions, my efforts have not produced anything of interest yet. I don't think that street photography is really my cup of tea but I don't think it hurts to try to move outside your comfort zone once in awhile.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #12
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Thanks for these. There are some useful suggestions here. May I offer a suggestion for another article? It's something a couple of the linked articles hit but only tangentially -- and that's becoming personally comfortable with taking pictures of strangers in public. Many people aren't including, often, me; and that timidity means missed opportunities and pictures that mean less than they could even when one works up the nerve to take them. And some of that actually can be mitigated with good advice. E.g. the fear of being asked by a person why you took their picture can be a deterrent to actually taking it but that fear largely goes away if you head out in the world armed with an answer to that question -- when you know you can say "it's an assignment for a photo class -- I'm supposed to take pictures of people going about their daily business" or "I'm just a tourist" or "I'm working on a project documenting life in this neighborhood" it becomes a lot easier to just go out and take pictures in comfort. There are quite a few other things like that, some of which I know and some I probably don't that help get over that discomfort and that discomfort stands in the way of progress for an awful lot of people. I suspect you have sensible things to say here.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #13
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I disagree with the premise that by appearing in public you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. I do not believe that logically it follows that the obvious consent to be seen by others when in public necessarily extends to consent to be photographed. I am sure to be in the minority in that view. I will say that much of what passes for street photography is candid photography, whereas in the images of a significant number of past greats, the subject is engaged with the photographer and looking into the lens, giving implicit permission to take the photograph.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #14
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Me looking at your camera does not mean I give you permission to take my photo. I'm just looking at your lens. Not sure how my gaze implies I have no expectation of privacy.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
I disagree with the premise that by appearing in public you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. I do not believe that logically it follows that the obvious consent to be seen by others when in public necessarily extends to consent to be photographed. I am sure to be in the minority in that view. I will say that much of what passes for street photography is candid photography, whereas in the images of a significant number of past greats, the subject is engaged with the photographer and looking into the lens, giving implicit permission to take the photograph.
And with a significant number of others, they weren't aware or giving implicit permission. In fact, on the basis of having seen very large numbers of street photographs, I'd argue that the ones who weren't aware were almost certainly in the majority.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #16
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From experience, very few people looking directly into my lens when on the street are giving implicit permission to have their photograph taken. It usually happens because I have been too slow or too intrusive while shooting.

I think that too much modern street photography is about the photographer trying to get away with as much as possible, much to the distress of the subject. Street photography should be about discovering emotion, not creating it in an unwilling victim...
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #17
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From experience, very few people looking directly into my lens when on the street are giving implicit permission to have their photograph taken. It usually happens because I have been too slow or too intrusive while shooting.

I think that too much modern street photography is about the photographer trying to get away with as much as possible, much to the distress of the subject. Street photography should be about discovering emotion, not creating it in an unwilling victim...
Dear Mark,

Elegantly phrased, and very true.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #18
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Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
I disagree with the premise that by appearing in public you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. I do not believe that logically it follows that the obvious consent to be seen by others when in public necessarily extends to consent to be photographed. I am sure to be in the minority in that view. I will say that much of what passes for street photography is candid photography, whereas in the images of a significant number of past greats, the subject is engaged with the photographer and looking into the lens, giving implicit permission to take the photograph.
"Reasonable expectation of privacy" is a legal term and your opinion about what it means is less interesting than the opinions of those in whom the judicial power of whatever jurisdiction you are in is vested. Throughout the United States, those people disagree with you so you will always lose there.

Moving away from the is and talking about the ought, your preferred rule means every time someone goes out in public they privatize the space they pass through. A scene that was once public that any member of the public could walk through or photograph at will becomes quasi-private: something that people need your permission to access in certain ways. That point of view seems irritatingly arrogant to me. And I don't like it apart from any chafing I may feel at the limits it would impose on me, I don't like it because many photographs that are quite clearly candid have meant a lot to me and I wouldn't want them to not exist. I have also loved photos in which the subject is engaged with the camera. I have also hated photos in which the subject is engaged with the camera precisely because it's so clear that the subject doesn't want to be engaged and that the photographer had clearly intruded upon and actively disturbed the subject and I see nothing in the photo beyond that simple reaction to provocation. And then there are photos I like where the subject is engaged with the camera and maybe the subject isn't entirely at ease with that but I still like them because they say something more to me. I'll give an example. A photo of mine:



The boy had been playing, he saw that he was observed and that made him a bit shy. I, at least, see that shyness in the picture but I like it because it reminds me of me when I was his age -- the vivid play life that was suspended when someone else is around at least until I determined whether the interloper would ridicule me or join with me. I don't know whether that's something anyone in the world but me sees in the photo but it's there for me so I'm glad I have the photo to remind myself of it and of the importance of giving the literal or metaphorical wink to people I catch off guard to let them know I'm on their side. Which is how this interaction ended. So I'm glad that I can take such photos and dislike rules that would stop me.

And I also like photos where there's no interaction at all between subject and photographer and where such interaction might have made the photo disappear. Another example:



It isn't, as I note above, just that I want to be able to take such pictures, I want to see such pictures taken by other people and I want other people to see them too because I think they have something to say about our lives together that will make those lines a little bit better.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #19
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Originally Posted by JHutchins View Post
"Reasonable expectation of privacy" is a legal term and your opinion about what it means is less interesting than the opinions of those in whom the judicial power of whatever jurisdiction you are in is vested. Throughout the United States, those people disagree with you so you will always lose there.
My argument was not legal in nature. I recognize that in some, perhaps most, jurisdictions I would lose, though there are some in which I would win. It is an example of where law and ethics do not always coincide.

Quote:
Moving away from the is and talking about the ought, your preferred rule means every time someone goes out in public they privatize the space they pass through.
In a sense I do privatize the space as I pass through as I also expect people not to push me aside so that they may occupy the space I am occupying. It is a form of courtesy we mutually extend to one another. Why should not such courtesy extend to not photographing me without my consent?

Quote:
A scene that was once public that any member of the public could walk through or photograph at will becomes quasi-private: something that people need your permission to access in certain ways. That point of view seems irritatingly arrogant to me.
So it is not arrogant that you think your desire to take my photograph trumps my desire that I not be photographed?


Quote:
And I don't like it apart from any chafing I may feel at the limits it would impose on me, I don't like it because many photographs that are quite clearly candid have meant a lot to me and I wouldn't want them to not exist.
So it is not arrogant that you think your desire to see photographs of other people because they mean a lot to you trumps their desire not to be photographed?


Quote:
I have also loved photos in which the subject is engaged with the camera. I have also hated photos in which the subject is engaged with the camera precisely because it's so clear that the subject doesn't want to be engaged and that the photographer had clearly intruded upon and actively disturbed the subject and I see nothing in the photo beyond that simple reaction to provocation.
In other words, because such person is being arrogant in his reaction to being "intruded upon and actively disturbed"? It is a shame that the persons desire not to be photographed ruined the image for you.

Quote:
And then there are photos I like where the subject is engaged with the camera and maybe the subject isn't entirely at ease with that but I still like them because they say something more to me. I'll give an example. A photo of mine:



The boy had been playing, he saw that he was observed and that made him a bit shy. I, at least, see that shyness in the picture but I like it because it reminds me of me when I was his age -- the vivid play life that was suspended when someone else is around at least until I determined whether the interloper would ridicule me or join with me. I don't know whether that's something anyone in the world but me sees in the photo but it's there for me so I'm glad I have the photo to remind myself of it and of the importance of giving the literal or metaphorical wink to people I catch off guard to let them know I'm on their side. Which is how this interaction ended. So I'm glad that I can take such photos and dislike rules that would stop me.
Yes, who cares what the mother or boy thinks as long as it it says something to you, stirs up a fond memory of your youth, and make you glad.

Quote:
And I also like photos where there's no interaction at all between subject and photographer and where such interaction might have made the photo disappear. Another example:



It isn't, as I note above, just that I want to be able to take such pictures, I want to see such pictures taken by other people and I want other people to see them too because I think they have something to say about our lives together that will make those lines a little bit better.
And if the persons in the photographs didn't want to have their photographs taken is beside the point? How is that making their lives a little better?
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #20
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Of course we should NEVER interact with one another. EVERYONE is entitled to ABSOLUTE privacy at all times.

Sorry, no. Interaction is an essential part of being human. If you can't handle interaction, with give and take, stay at home and do everything over the internet.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #21
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My argument was not legal in nature. . . .
Too right.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #22
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Frank, It seems you think that everyone who practices street photography should always ask for permission before taking someone's photograph in public, which is ridiculous and for the most part, it is not how street photography works.

I shoot a lot of street and documentary stuff. I rarely ask for permission. Sometimes I do, it just depends on the situation. In all my years, I have only had a few people get upset or actually ask me not to take their picture or they ask if I will delete the photo of them I just shot, which I happily do. My intent while street shooting is very simple- to document everyday scenes as they appear to my eye- sometimes these scenes are fascinating, and then a lot of times, everyday life is just boring as hell. This is what makes street photography so challenging and insightful.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #23
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Frank, It seems you think that everyone who practices street photography should always ask for permission before taking someone's photograph in public, which is ridiculous and for the most part, it is not how street photography works.
Which is perhaps why there is push back in some quarters. Hence the Terms and Conditions on the StreetPhotography.com website.

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In all my years, I have only had a few people get upset or actually ask me not to take their picture or they ask if I will delete the photo of them I just shot, which I happily do.
I appreciate your courtesy. It is a markedly different approach to the one put forward by JHutchins.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #24
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All of those privacy in public advocating talks are common on any internet thread where word "street" is.


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...
And if the persons in the photographs didn't want to have their photographs taken is beside the point? How is that making their lives a little better?
How about to be less paranoid about almost everything. How about going out and trying to take it. You'll surprised how many people are pleased with their picture taken.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #25
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Interaction is an essential part of being human. If you can't handle interaction, with give and take, stay at home and do everything over the internet.
I agree. Give and take is essential.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #26
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My argument was not legal in nature. I recognize that in some, perhaps most, jurisdictions I would lose, though there are some in which I would win. It is an example of where law and ethics do not always coincide.

In a sense I do privatize the space as I pass through as I also expect people not to push me aside so that they may occupy the space I am occupying. It is a form of courtesy we mutually extend to one another. Why should not such courtesy extend to not photographing me without my consent?

So it is not arrogant that you think your desire to take my photograph trumps my desire that I not be photographed?
I'm claiming something a little more than and a little different from that. It's a question of what it means to be in public and who we should allocate the right to use a public space to when alternative uses conflict. I actually don't have the right to push you aside so I can occupy the space you are occupying -- if I do that you have an action against me for battery. I do, on the other hand, have a right to photograph you. You are advocating for a social penalty to redistribute that allocation of rights away from distribution the legal system has accorded it. I don't like that proposed redistribution and I'm giving some examples of why -- some social benefits gained because of the existing distribution that would be lost under your proposed distribution. You're setting those against what you lose -- the ability to be free from the lack of irritation of being photographed on the off chance that you are and asking whether the gains I see are worth that cost to you and my answer is certainly yes because, honestly, your complacency and freedom from that particular irritation seems like a grumpy, petty thing that's not worth protecting. And I'll give you more examples of why I think that.

A non-photographic example. I often sit in public places (mostly bars) and read. I'm often interrupted when doing that and I don't always like it -- in fact I often don't. On the other hand, sometimes I do -- sometimes I'm interrupted by someone I like and am glad to talk to or someone I don't know but find, by the end of the conversation, that I'm glad I got to know them. The interruption is an imposition on me and sometimes it's an imposition that I never benefit from, but sometimes I do. As a result, I wouldn't like to see "never approach someone in a public place and start a conversation unless they give you some sort of permission to do so" be made into a general rule. In part that's because -- even though I sometimes would benefit from it -- I'd also lose from it sometimes -- I'd miss interactions that I've been glad not to miss. And even if I didn't ever lose -- if I always wanted to be left alone -- I still wouldn't like to see that rule take hold because when one spends a lot of time in a solitary way in public places one notices that there are an awful lot of lonely people in the world -- people who want to be noticed and want to be talked to. And I know some of them and know that a long experience of being rebuffed has made some of them timid seem closed off when really, they long for human contact. And the "leave people alone in public" rule would make life harder for them even if it would make life easier for the confirmed public hermts out there. And ultimately I do care more about the problems of the people who want to be social than the people who want to be left alone because, again, that seems crabbed, grumpy, and petty to me.

Turning again to photography to strengthen the analogy that may seem quite strained at this point; a lot of my friends -- probably most of my friends really -- are friends because of pictures I've taken of them. They're people who've seen photos I've taken of them, or talked to me because I was taking photos, and been pleased by how I saw them. You're hypothesizing a world of people who don't want to be photographed and those people are surely out there. But just as surely there are people out there who come across a photo of themselves or someone they know and think "Oh, I love that...thank you so much, whoever took it." When flickr first started including stats information that let you see where views of your photo were coming from I saw that I'd had several hits, in a day, from someone's blog so I went to look at that blog. It was one written by the subject of a photo I'd taken, who was a woman in her early twenties who hadn't realized I'd taken the picture. I read her blog and she was often deeply depressed and not at all happy with herself and her life. But she was thrilled by the photo because she thought she looked beautiful and tough and like the person she wanted to be. Do I think the fact I was able to make her happy is worth some grumbling by the likes of you? Yes I do.

More generally, photographs taken in public places are commentary about what goes on in those public places -- about life. And allowing people to observe and comment on what happens in public in the way that allows them to say what they have to say -- whether that is through photographs, sketches, sculputre, words, or some other medium -- opens up the possibility that people will be able to say things that are important to say and to hear. And I am in favor of rules that make it easier for such things to be said -- for us to live socially -- even at the cost of irritating some fairly grumpy people.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #27
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. . . photographs taken in public places are commentary about what goes on in those public places -- about life. And allowing people to observe and comment on what happens in public in the way that allows them to say what they have to say -- whether that is through photographs, sketches, sculputre, words, or some other medium -- opens up the possibility that people will be able to say things that are important to say and to hear. And I am in favor of rules that make it easier for such things to be said -- for us to live socially -- even at the cost of irritating some fairly grumpy people.
Yes. It is a part of interaction. As you say, not all interactions are good. I find it hard to accept, though, that the absolute privatization of space might be a greater good than allowing street photography.

Can anyone list the jurisdictions in which all street photography is proscribed? What you can do with the pictures may be controlled to a greater or lesser extent, but in most jurisdictions, the limitations are quite narrowly defined.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHutchins View Post
...honestly, your complacency and freedom from that particular irritation seems like a grumpy, petty thing that's not worth protecting.

...And ultimately I do care more about the problems of the people who want to be social than the people who want to be left alone because, again, that seems crabbed, grumpy, and petty to me.

...Do I think the fact I was able to make her happy is worth some grumbling by the likes of you? Yes I do.

...And I am in favor of rules that make it easier for such things to be said -- for us to live socially -- even at the cost of irritating some fairly grumpy people.
No sense trying to have a reasonable discussion.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #29
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There's a simple reason in the common law base of English-speaking countries - and that is that there is no rule to prevent you recording what you see. You could make a sketch, write a note or take a photograph. If you are legally entitled to see it, you are legally entitled to permanently record what you see. This is because you are legally entitled to remember it, and to do things to assist your memory.
And the "it" may include other people.
There are situations where you are not entitled to see certain things - you may be ejected from private property for any reason or none - and permanently recording what you are not entitled to see is also not permitted. The circumstances of permission to see may include banning photography - you are permitted to see ONLY if you are not photographing.
Then there is the separate issue of commercial gain from a photograph taken in public.

The idea that "I own my space" is not held by English-language law. I own (so to speak) my person but the space I move through has a range of ownership. If I happen to be in this space when someone takes a picture of the space, that is my luck - good, bad or indifferent.

In the modern world this whole discussion is laughable. If you object to being photographed in public, do you advise every store you walk into and every government agency that they cannot take security footage with your image? Legally what is the difference between the red light camera and a person standing next to it with a Leica?
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #30
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If a person with or without a camera approaches me or my family in a public place, the distance matters. From across the street, I have no objection. But approach too close in an uncrowded, open space without an introduction or what I judge to be a courteous and appropriate expression of goodwill, and I'm prepared to defend my space and that of my family members. You will have my attention. That is not street photography, that is not freedom to go where you want in public space: That is threatening behavior.
There is appropriate and inappropriate use of public space. And there is the concept of personal space within public space that we are entitled to defend.

Similarly, if I see concern or objection, I'll not photograph a subject and I will keep my distance. If I meet someone and they consent, I will take photos and share the results with them if they request a copy. It is a great way to meet people and share experiences and viewpoints. If I am photographing on a street or park and people chose to walk through the area, that is another matter. They see me, they see me photographing.

Respect is the principle to be followed. I'll not compromise that principle in the name of "getting the picture" or some other perceived need.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #31
tunalegs
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Just getting to the root of the issue, the whole issue of people not wanting to be photographed in public, despite being plainly visible to everybody in public - is just a matter of ego.

There is rarely any reasonable, practical reason, behind such complaints. Some people just don't want to possibly look "ugly" in a photo somebody else is taking (even though they'll never see it), others have paranoid ideas about what the photos are going to be used for, and so on. And yet, there they are in broad daylight. If anybody had nefarious plans that involved following somebody around, it wouldn't really matter if they had a camera on them or not.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #32
Brian Atherton
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Thank you, Roger. I shall certainly follow this website with interest.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #33
robert blu
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Personally I'm not so much into street photography, not my cup of tea (and too many privacy problems where I live do not encourage me to g try it deeper) but I always like the way you write both for the content and the form, it s a pleasure to read.
Therefore I'll follow this website and read your articles.
robert
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #34
robert blu
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We recently had a meeting with a lawyer specialized in what concerns images, privacy and related laws and rights.

In Italy laws didn't change very much in the last 5/6 years but what changed is the way judges and magistrates interpret the laws.

From the last court sentences generally speaking it's allowed to take photos on the street unless minors are present (and parents did not give authorization) and when the person in the photo (if recognizable) says or shows does'n like to be photographed (with a denial gesture).

In this last case last sentences accorded to the photographed the right to ask you to delete the image (of course we all know this is a non sense because we could delete it and later rescue with an appropriate software, but the law is the law!).

But the bad point IMO is that in any case we are not allowed to publish (internet, papers, magazines, exhibitions) photo where people can be identified without their permission (a part specific exceptions). This is also a non sense in my view because it's enough to look at flickr or other sites and imagine how many have or not a model release. Again this is the law. For sure we have a difference between theory and praxis!

The risk is when someone recognize himself in a published photo and suit you. At least it will cost you money for a lawyer !

In this view "interaction" is the key word, you meet an interesting person and start to talk to him or her and only later you start to take photos. And if you are lucky you can have a model release as well.

For me there is no more street photography, eventually there will be "street portraits".

robert
PS: and of course beside the law I would do to someone else something they do not like, I prefer to respect their ideas.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #35
JoeLopez
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
I've just started writing for Johnny Mobasher's streetphotography.com, which I can commend to anyone who is interested in street photography even if you don't want to read my stuff. So far there there are three short pieces up. They deal with getting used to carrying a camera on the street; getting comfortable with shooting people; and choosing kit.

Cheers,

R.
Looks like this thread became a chitstorm.

At a glance, it looks like some interesting reading! I'll take a closer look and follow along for sure.

Following on Instagram already
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #36
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I live and work in an area where a substantial portion of the population has a religious objection to being photographed. I'm talking about members of the Old Order Amish Church. They do understand, however, that when I'm working for our local weekly newspaper, there are times when they will appear in photographs. They have no objection to that, but will not, nor do I ask them to, pose for photos. If, however, they are manning a hose at a fire - many serve as volunteer firefighters - they have no objection to photos. Nor are there issues when photographing a high school sport where, by definition, the players are all juveniles.
It's a matter of context and sensitivity. In other words, don't be a jackass.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #37
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In the "choosing kit" link, Roger writes: "thought waves from the dog". That's very clever. I would not have noticed that unless you mentioned it. Nice write-ups, Roger.
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