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Author Topic: Communication with those being photographed  (Read 350 times)

Jonathan Cross

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Communication with those being photographed
« on: September 09, 2019, 04:46:56 am »

I am ambivalent about street photography.  Often I do not see the point, but then I do think that with the passage of time such images can form an archive of social behaviour that will enable people in the future to look back on us. 

My main interest is landscape and wildlife, but I photograph for a local magazine that mostly wants people and events.  Sometimes I photograph children, e.g when a new skate board ramp opened or at local fairs.  I know from when I photograph at events at the local first schools (ages 4 - 7) that I have to submit my images to the Headteacher as some children must not be photographed.  Any groups with them cannot be in the magazine.  There is also the sad perception about men taking photographs of children.  If I take images with children, I always say to the parent(s) or guardian(s) what I am doing and ask if they mind and if the image(s) can be used.  I also ask adults if the images are other than general event views.

In the light of this I would be interested to know about the images in this section of the forum.  Do those being photographed know, and, if not, are they told afterwards and asked if the images can be used?  If the images include children are the parents or guardians asked if they mind?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

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Rob C

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2019, 07:25:58 am »

Asking kinda removes the point of street, which is all about observation and catching that moment when something significant is happening. There the catch: when you see it happen, that's already too late - you missed it. You have to anticipate. I'm not much good at that at all, as I far rather lead up to a picture, which is the pro way I always followed. Hence, my preference for street art which is another idea altogether. Mostly, it doesn't move a lot.

Kids: I refuse all requests to go anywhere near them with a camera, and usually without one, too. Other than my own, I find nothing about them engaging, truth be told. As with my pet white horse, a few grunts and that's conversation done, over and very much out. :-)

Rob

RSL

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2019, 08:08:37 am »

Jonathan, As usual, Rob's on the money with his advice, though I disagree with him on kids. On the other hand, if he's talking about "cute" pictures of kids, I agree 100%. I certainly agree with Rob that if your subjects are aware you're shooting them, what results is informal portraiture rather than street photography.

Whether or not you need to submit your street pictures to authorities before you can show them depends on where you are. In the United States, if you're out in public, on the streets, etc., you have none of what the law calls "expectation of privacy," so I can shoot pictures of you and show them and not have to worry about permissions. That applies to kids too, though it pays to be careful. On the other hand, I can't use your picture to advertise anything.

Whatever you do, don't use what you see in "Street Showcase" as general examples of street photography. Street is a genre that's very badly named, and as a result most photographers don't bother to learn what it is.

You might want to read this" https://luminous-landscape.com/on-street-photography/.

As far as I'm concerned, street is the main reason to pick up a camera.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2019, 09:05:20 am »

An old joke:

How to get your ass kicked (or arrested)

Go to a local playground, wearing dark sunglasses, a hoodie, and a camera. When a concerned parent approaches you, asking “Which one is yours?,” you respond with “Oh, I don’t know... haven’t decided yet.”

Rajan Parrikar

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2019, 06:15:03 am »


As far as I'm concerned, street is the main reason to pick up a camera.

The reasons to pick up a camera are it keeps you young, engaged with the world, and it can bring pleasure and delight. The subject matter is of secondary importance.

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2019, 08:54:07 am »

The reasons to pick up a camera are it keeps you young, engaged with the world, and it can bring pleasure and delight. The subject matter is of secondary importance.
+100.
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RSL

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2019, 09:38:27 am »

The reasons to pick up a camera are it keeps you young, engaged with the world, and it can bring pleasure and delight. The subject matter is of secondary importance.

Hi Rajan, Well, I didn't say it was the only reason to pick up a camera. From my web and from what I've posted you can see that it's not the only thing I do with a camera. But to me real street is the main reason even to own a camera.

Chris Kern

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2019, 08:41:44 pm »

In the light of this I would be interested to know about the images in this section of the forum.  Do those being photographed know, and, if not, are they told afterwards and asked if the images can be used?  If the images include children are the parents or guardians asked if they mind?

Coincidentally, I was just reading a post on our local neighborhood list service this morning by a mother who was outraged to discover her children being photographed in their front yard by another woman with a cellphone; the latter, when the mother angrily confronted her, explained that she was inspired to do so because she thought it was refreshing to see urban kids climbing trees.  That post triggered sympathetically furious responses from other neighborhood residents, many of whom—erroneously (I was trained as a lawyer)—believed the woman with the cellphone was violating some law.

I'm an amateur photographer.  I shoot for my own amusement, and my general policy is (1) to avoid making pictures of children (other than relatives, of course) and (2) if I really want to photograph them, to get permission not only from a parent or other guardian, but from the subjects themselves.  However, if I was working on assignment for a news organization, I think I would be inclined to stand on my legal rights, which, as Russ Lewis explained in an earlier post, are essentially unrestricted in the United States if the subject is visible from a public location.  My understanding is that U.K. law is similarly liberal regarding photography from public spaces.

Occasionally I ignore that policy, to some extent out of expediency but also when I don't think the kids will individually be very identifiable in the image.  I never could have made the attached shot of a children's day camp in Vancouver, Canada, if I had stopped to ask permission.  Not only would I have missed the moment—always the key to anything that purports to be "street photography"—but even if the camp counselors had told me to go ahead, I probably would have wound up with the subjects mugging for the camera.  (I can't tell you how many attempted street photographs I have missed because one or more of the people in the frame saw me and decided to strike a pose.)

That said, given that there are so many weirdos out there I understand why parents may be concerned about having their kids photographed by strangers, and I'm inclined to be more hesitant to snap the shutter if there are children in the viewfinder rather than adults.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 08:45:46 pm by Chris Kern »
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Rob C

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2019, 09:49:35 am »

The reasons to pick up a camera are it keeps you young, engaged with the world, and it can bring pleasure and delight. The subject matter is of secondary importance.


That last sentence may work for you, Rajan, but not for me. I agree with the first part, the therapeutic, motivational aspect of photography, but in my case it comes totally adrift if there is nothing in my genre, sphere of interest, available. Making snaps of something of borderline personal interest seems somewhat perverse; why would I seek to tie myself yet longer to the computer, when the first part of the idea (as you state) is to get out of the door and do something?

Unfortunately, photography has never been an occupation where anything is equal to anything else. I used to run into the same difficulty when I was working: some family members would suggest I do weddings, this, that and the other just to keep turnover going, the money coming in more regularly instead of in mini-lottery payments now and then as was my norm. I was told that the bank was blind. Of course it was, but I was not! It didn't ever seem to register that I would rather have done something totally non-photographic than to do photography that soured my feelings for it.

Why was that so difficult for people to grasp?

Maybe they envied my lifestyle of relative freedom that they could not have, whatever they earned?
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 09:53:43 am by Rob C »
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RSL

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2019, 10:10:00 am »

It's no use, Rob. It's something most people never will grasp. I spent the last two evenings going back over my Robert Frank books, and thinking about the travels he made and the difficulties, including jail time, he put up with to get the whack-you-in-the-heart result that was The Americans. As I read and looked, I wished I'd been able to do something like that. I remember how close I came to leaving the Air Force at the end of my four year commitment and trying photojournalism as a profession. The fact that I had a wife and two kids made the decision for me, and I can't complain. I had a good 26 years in the service and saw a lot of Asia. But the idea of explicating my country and its people with a camera was large in my life. It still is, but now I'm too old to do it. But in my local retirement community I interact with the people to whom a picture of, say, an eagle means as much as a picture of a person doing something unusual. They're all fine, normal people, but they'll never, never feel the thrill of capturing something beyond the decorative -- capturing something that speaks.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 10:14:08 am by RSL »
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2019, 10:52:22 am »

... capturing something that speaks.

Different folks, different strokes.

Rob C

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2019, 02:55:06 pm »

Different folks, different strokes.

"Speaks" is open to many interpretations.

;-)

Rob C

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2019, 03:06:01 pm »

It's no use, Rob. It's something most people never will grasp. I spent the last two evenings going back over my Robert Frank books, and thinking about the travels he made and the difficulties, including jail time, he put up with to get the whack-you-in-the-heart result that was The Americans. As I read and looked, I wished I'd been able to do something like that. I remember how close I came to leaving the Air Force at the end of my four year commitment and trying photojournalism as a profession. The fact that I had a wife and two kids made the decision for me, and I can't complain. I had a good 26 years in the service and saw a lot of Asia. But the idea of explicating my country and its people with a camera was large in my life. It still is, but now I'm too old to do it. But in my local retirement community I interact with the people to whom a picture of, say, an eagle means as much as a picture of a person doing something unusual. They're all fine, normal people, but they'll never, never feel the thrill of capturing something beyond the decorative -- capturing something that speaks.

True; thank God that my wife absolutely did get it.

All those years, from when we were kids and she helped me buy my first real camera - a rigid Vito B - she never complained about the ups and downs of the photographic life. Perhaps it was because it came as no surprise to her that I was ultimately going to go to that life; perhaps it might have been because she knew that whatever happened we would stick together. And through it all, she never displayed any jealousy.

I've had almost eleven years now to think about it after she went wherever the good folks go, and in that time it never ceases to astound me that I was so damned lucky that we found one another so young, and had so many wonderful years to share.

;-)

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2019, 04:15:38 pm »

It's no use, Rob. It's something most people never will grasp.
As Louis Armstrong said about jazz:
“If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know.”
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Alan Klein

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2019, 04:51:18 pm »

Nice shot Chris.  Lots of action and things to look at.  Here's my take on kids shots.  Never thought about whether I "belonged" as it was in NYC Central Park where everyone is out in open and cameras are popping a lot.
Marionette by Alan Klein, on Flickr




Woof by Alan Klein, on Flickr


Troupe by Alan Klein, on Flickr

LesPalenik

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2019, 03:18:47 pm »

Sometimes, you can get beaten for taking unauthorized photos:

Quote
Photographer Math Roberts experienced every street photographer’s worst nightmare during the Notting Hill Carnival. As first reported by The Phoblographer, Roberts was attacked, beaten bloody, and had his camera smashed to bits for taking a photograph of a couple hugging on the last night of the event.

https://petapixel.com/2019/09/19/street-photographer-beaten-bloody-for-taking-photo-of-a-couple-hugging/

Rob C

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2019, 05:10:44 pm »

Serves him right. Who, in their right mind, believes that it's a clever thing to do at night, on an occasion when the chances are that much alcohol has been enjoyed?

As silly is the editorial attitude, that thinks it's perfectly okay to intrude on a couple having a little tęte-a-tęte because, well, it's what photographers do. Screw them and their daft snapper too!

I like street photography but I do not like it when it strays into intrusion; we get enough of that already in our lives from all sorts of people. Photographers have no tribal prerogative to intrude. If you insist, accept the consequences, and if you are the camera insurance company, tell the stupid guy it's not covered because it's self-induced damage and he has a responsibility of care.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2019, 06:25:24 pm »

Serves him right. ...

As it will serve them right* when they end up in jail.

* just to be clear, I wrote the above for rhetorical contrast, not because I agree with your "serves him right." I categorically do not.

Alan Klein

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2019, 09:11:42 pm »

If I was 6'6", 260 lbs, , I'd take more street pictures than I do. 

Rob C

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Re: Communication with those being photographed
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2019, 03:23:52 am »

As it will serve them right* when they end up in jail.

* just to be clear, I wrote the above for rhetorical contrast, not because I agree with your "serves him right." I categorically do not.

Think of the possibilities here: we could start a thread to rival Brexit and the Constitution (U.S. Variety).

Why do you feel it's your right to photograph people having an intimate moment? Does the fact it's in public make the moral difference, or is it all "jolly good sport!"?

Say it was your own flesh and blood caught in a rash moment on a doorstep, all hot and undone: would you shrug, and say cool, the photographer is right, he's just another hunter after human prey - not a thing to worry about. Hey, why not catch my future grandkids too, whilst you are at it - you could paste them up online and maybe supply their school addresses too?

I very much doubt your mind would slip in that direction when it becomes personal.

The truth about street photography is simple: we are, at heart, voyeurs; we do what we think we can get away with, and when somebody kicks the shit out of us we cry foul! and run to Mummy. I am as guilty as the rest, but don't lie and try to pretend it's my right to pry and be a friggin' pain in the public ass. We all try to be invisible because of our own, inner sense of guilt at what we are doing. And the guilt arises from knowing it's not right.
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