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Author Topic: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws  (Read 1733 times)

Slobodan Blagojevic

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The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« on: May 29, 2020, 12:07:01 pm »

https://www.goethe.de/en/kul/med/20849366.html?fbclid=IwAR3VppiAq8Lb5XpPoq66I88UPXZzdYiP36Nrvbf3ziUicYDRkb26UXQc700

“PHOTOGRAPHERS THESE DAYS HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL”

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Street photography in Germany can really be quite tricky – if passers-by are in the picture, the photographer can quickly find himself in court. Lawyer, Thomas Schwenke, explains which shots are allowed.

Robert Roaldi

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2020, 12:50:54 pm »

Seems to me it's only lunacy if your departure point is that you should be allowed to take anyone's picture so long as they are in public view in a public place. That's a specific cultural value, no reason to assume everyone thinks like that, so there's no reason to expect that all jurisdictions would allow it.

It seems reasonable to say that if I am out on the street, I have no expectation of privacy. But does that extend to my presence at that place being recorded by someone? A culture can decide that for itself, but it's not obvious to me that the one point of view has an a priori superior claim. I don't see it as a slam dunk.

While I'm walking down the street minding my own, if a photography starts snapping pictures of me, regardless of what the photographer believes and regardless of local laws, I would feel that my privacy is being violated. In some jurisdictions I would have no case, in others I might. And of course that problem arises even when the state is taking the pictures, as with CCTV. It also arises when the press or citizens are recording the behaviour of police or other officials.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2020, 01:56:47 pm »

I am speaking from the perspective of the US, where the German/European rules seem crazy. Also speaking from the perspective of the street photography as a genre, which seems impossible in Europe, where it originated. HCB must be rolling over in his grave.

Chairman Bill

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2020, 02:06:11 pm »

It's Germany, not all of Europe

James Clark

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2020, 02:20:02 pm »

It's Germany, not all of Europe

GDPR has some nasty ramifications throughout the EU.  I'm not sure to what extent it's actually being tested, but I'd be concerned even if if I was just selling fine art prints.

https://petapixel.com/2018/05/30/how-bad-is-gdpr-for-photographers/
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John Camp

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2020, 04:28:48 pm »

It's Germany, not all of Europe

There are some pretty sharp restrictions in France, as well -- I'm not sure about the other countries of the EU. As Robert points out, the concept of "privacy" may be a cultural thing. In the US, there is no explicit guarantee of privacy in the Constitution, although some jurists have argued that there's an implicit guarantee. In any case, if a person is in public in the US, you can take his/her photograph. You can use it for artistic purposes -- including the sale of prints at an art show -- but can't sell it for commercial reasons (you can't sell the photo for an advertisement without explicit permission.)

Despite Robert's comment about cultural concepts of privacy, it seems to me that the biggest problem with the European system is that it is unenforceable in a general sense -- most people get away with taking "illegal" photos, but some people face draconian penalties. It is these kinds of laws that inevitably lead to governmental and prosecutorial abuse. And the the fact is, very few people get recognizable photos taken of them on the street. I doubt I've ever been photographed that way (and I have an eye for cameras), maybe because I'm not a colorful person. So, you have these weighty laws squashing a fly and creating a serious potential for abuse. Doesn't seem reasonable to me.

   
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JoeKitchen

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2020, 06:15:09 pm »

There are some pretty sharp restrictions in France, as well -- I'm not sure about the other countries of the EU. As Robert points out, the concept of "privacy" may be a cultural thing. In the US, there is no explicit guarantee of privacy in the Constitution, although some jurists have argued that there's an implicit guarantee. In any case, if a person is in public in the US, you can take his/her photograph. You can use it for artistic purposes -- including the sale of prints at an art show -- but can't sell it for commercial reasons (you can't sell the photo for an advertisement without explicit permission.)

Despite Robert's comment about cultural concepts of privacy, it seems to me that the biggest problem with the European system is that it is unenforceable in a general sense -- most people get away with taking "illegal" photos, but some people face draconian penalties. It is these kinds of laws that inevitably lead to governmental and prosecutorial abuse. And the the fact is, very few people get recognizable photos taken of them on the street. I doubt I've ever been photographed that way (and I have an eye for cameras), maybe because I'm not a colorful person. So, you have these weighty laws squashing a fly and creating a serious potential for abuse. Doesn't seem reasonable to me.

 

Just to add to this, you can use a picture of someone in a news article in the USA so long as you are not violating their right to publicity, or right to be accurately portrayed.  For instance, you can take a picture of a sharply dressed woman downtown and use that image in a story about business women in general.  It is a fair assumption a woman dressed in a suit downtown is more then likely a business woman.  However, you can not use that same image in a story about high end call girls unless you can prove she is a call girl. 

Insofar as using the images in fine art, this is another fine line.  Although legal, I know many professional gallerists in NYC that will not show images of people without a model release provided by their photographer.  A gallerist I know told me of a story where a friend of his showed a street photography show captured in London at his NYC location.  There were no model releases and they did not think it was a big deal.  It so happened that the person in the image used to promote the show came to NYC the day of the opening and noticed his image being used all over the city.  He sued.  Talk about bad luck. 

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Robert Roaldi

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2020, 10:18:27 pm »

I'm also not comfortable with using blunt legal tools to deal with what is essentially a cultural matter. Does anyone know the history behind the German legislation? Was it the result of some incident that went wrong and they felt the need to "do" something and maybe acted too quickly, or was it given lots of deliberate thought?

For most of the past hundred years, I suppose that most people didn't find it so terrible that someone taking photos out in public might happen to catch them in a frame. But times change, and I wonder how much the interweb is affecting people's attitudes. If my face appears on social media somewhere, even if only in the background, and if face recognition can find it, tag it, and have it be available to job recruiters or whoever, forever, then we can't pretend that all the old (informal) rules automatically still apply without modification. What was "public" in 1956 isn't exactly the same thing as what is "public" now. Accidentally appearing in someone's street photography that 10 people saw at a photo club meeting is one thing, being permanently on the web, possibly linked to something you weren't actually a part of could be a different situation altogether.

Just one more thought about the concern about effects on street photography. I appreciate that this would worry some photographers, me included, but we should be prepared that most people would simply yawn at that argument, if not be downright antagonistic. One mention of a male photographer walking through a park in which there are kids playing would derail any social media thread. It doesn't take much these days. It's possible that the number of people who care about the loss of street photography rounds to zero.

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bcooter

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2020, 10:28:07 pm »

Just to add to this, you can use a picture of someone in a news article in the USA so long as you are not violating their right to publicity, or right to be accurately portrayed.  For instance, you can take a picture of a sharply dressed woman downtown and use that image in a story about business women in general.  It is a fair assumption a woman dressed in a suit downtown is more then likely a business woman.  However, you can not use that same image in a story about high end call girls unless you can prove she is a call girl.  ....snip

Joe,

I agree with a lot of what you write, but this time I think your a little off base.  What if it's a burning building and a person runs past you lens screaming.  Yes that might be newsworthy, it also might implicate the screaming person in an arson crime.  It just depends on the judge's interpretation.

What I have the most problem with is the law the covers the NYT also protects every fashion or specialty magazine in the U.S.  The release forms the models sign basically say the publication has the right to run the image from the session anywhere in the universe, for all of time.

These wonderful talents have portfolios that will blow you away, probably with 2 million dollars of production value, though all they get is cab fare (maybe) and a free lunch they don't want to eat.

They are true living artists and you don't have to say more than three sentences to great talent.

Of course the talent does it for the publicity, but they don't get hired.   On one lingerie project the CD was reviewing my work and loved two of the models.  His bosses wouldn't agree because they thought the talent was too unique.  So we went with perfectly (like retouched talent) before we retouched.

The specialty magazines and websites know this and use it to their advantage.

So to me if you photograph someone you get a release and pay them something, or just hang it on you wall.

IMO






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Rob C

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2020, 05:26:57 am »

Is it really a matter of public or private usage, or of someone making a picture of someone else without that person's permission?

Intended use is a secondary matter to the more important, and crucial one of taking the shot in the first place.

If it's the intention to use that picture to promote yourself or to make money out of it, then I think you should be obliged to have prior permission from the subject. I can't actually see any difference in that aspect from using such a picture for advertising purposes or for so-called art purposes. If you are going to gain something from that person, then why should it be a one-way advantage?

(And signing a model release is only one part of it; releases for stock work were tricky, too: not every model or agency is willing to let their people be shown in the wrong kind of advertisment or publication, however legal that ad or publication may be. For example: you might be fooled into thinking that any model agency that hires out models for calendar nudes or semi-nudes doesn't care about where their images go: wrong! Most calendars were perfectly okay, but that didn't apply to many of the so-called men's magazines, and I'm not surprised! There are all kinds of different levels of exposure, some that can only help you along to even better gigs and others that are the kiss of death for a model.

It hits both ways: Nina Carter was probably the most famous British Page 3 and calendar model of her day. She was a lot more than a nice pair of boobs. I used her for two commercial - as different from glamour - shoots: once for a jewellery calendar and once for a bank advertisement. She was dressed in both shoots. The bank ad caused chaos for me and for the ad agency. They had chosen her from the set of different model cards I'd offered, and everybody in the industry knew who she was. To me, a model is a model, not a personality; if their face and bearing suits, it's valid. In the work they are used to illustrate, they become a fictitious person. (Remember, there was no social media in those days.) However, some mischievous twat in a Glasgow newspaper decided it made a great story to ask the public if it knew the identity of the girl smiling at them from behind her desk, chequebook and pen in hand - she was actually wearing my wife's cardigan and I think a string of pearls we had as props; how much more county could the poor girl get? The initial explosion rocked the agency as it did me, but nothing further happened, and both agency and I contined to work for that bank. I guess they realised that, in fact, the publicity had done them more good than they had bargained for when they commissioned that ad in the first place.)


The fact that somebody is in a public space doesn't mean they are fair game: it's like saying that anyone in a public space is also forfeiting their right not to get mugged on the grounds that hey, it's what can happen in a public space. Both are violations of your personal right to be left in peace as long as you are leaving others in peace too. And is getting photographed without permission that different to being mugged? It may well depend on whether or not you realise it's happened to you. If the mugger is super-efficient and picks your pocket without you realising it until you look for your wallet, you might think it fell out or you lost it yourself; you won't go on forever after knowing you are likely to have it happen to you again - the fear doesn't take root if you don't know.

If a pretty woman gets snapped out in the street as she walks to the shops or sits having a coffee somewhere, and if she catches you, she's entitled to wonder and ask why, and even object. If she's walking towards you, a big guy with her, would you still take the shot? If not, you already know your true motivation without anyone having to spell it out to you.

Today, life isn't as it was decades ago. The first print I ever saw coming up in a dish happened because a fellow apprentice in my engineering company also had a gig with a street photographer, and used to process for him on weekends. A street photographer in 50s Britain was a guy who went to holiday resorts and photographed people walking down the street, on the beaches etc. and offered to snap them and send them souvenir prints. It was a business. To do it legally, you required a hawker's licence, which kinda tells you where snappers stood back then on the social scale. If you snapped somebody on the street, they didn't think you were going to exploit them in magazines or use them as wanking material; they thought you might make them an offer to buy the blessed picture. Of course, nobody actually made that first exposure until the punter had committed to the sale. Today, would anybody give out their name and address to a total stranger? There was a time they did - in droves.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2020, 05:31:59 am by Rob C »
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2020, 05:46:28 am »

The lunacy continues.

JoeKitchen

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2020, 07:11:14 am »

Joe,

I agree with a lot of what you write, but this time I think your a little off base.  What if it's a burning building and a person runs past you lens screaming.  Yes that might be newsworthy, it also might implicate the screaming person in an arson crime.  It just depends on the judge's interpretation.

What I have the most problem with is the law the covers the NYT also protects every fashion or specialty magazine in the U.S.  The release forms the models sign basically say the publication has the right to run the image from the session anywhere in the universe, for all of time.

These wonderful talents have portfolios that will blow you away, probably with 2 million dollars of production value, though all they get is cab fare (maybe) and a free lunch they don't want to eat.

They are true living artists and you don't have to say more than three sentences to great talent.

Of course the talent does it for the publicity, but they don't get hired.   On one lingerie project the CD was reviewing my work and loved two of the models.  His bosses wouldn't agree because they thought the talent was too unique.  So we went with perfectly (like retouched talent) before we retouched.

The specialty magazines and websites know this and use it to their advantage.

So to me if you photograph someone you get a release and pay them something, or just hang it on you wall.

IMO

Fair point on the judges interpretation, although images like what you describe are used all the time in news.  Think of the current riots; I think any person in a situation like what you are describing would be hard pressed to find a court that would agree with him/her.  The courts tend to be very lenient on images used in the news. 

I have to disagree with you on the idea that the NYTs and magazine are protected by the same law to the same extent.  If this was the case, then there would be no need for the magazine to get the model release, which you state that they do.  If that law protected them just as much as  the NYTs, then, just as when the times runs an image, no release would be necessary.  That is not the case though.   

I'll admit an editorial in a magazine is a grey area between news and advertising, and not clearly defined.  However, since many editorials are paid for by the company, I think one would be able to argue it is actually an advertisement and therefore not protected by "newsworthy" usage. 

Insofar as model releases, I tend to agree with you, but that is an issue with contracts and abuse within the industry, not really the law. 
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Rob C

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2020, 08:00:46 am »

Fair point on the judges interpretation, although images like what you describe are used all the time in news.  Think of the current riots; I think any person in a situation like what you are describing would be hard pressed to find a court that would agree with him/her.  The courts tend to be very lenient on images used in the news. 

I have to disagree with you on the idea that the NYTs and magazine are protected by the same law to the same extent.  If this was the case, then there would be no need for the magazine to get the model release, which you state that they do.  If that law protected them just as much as  the NYTs, then, just as when the times runs an image, no release would be necessary.  That is not the case though.   

I'll admit an editorial in a magazine is a grey area between news and advertising, and not clearly defined.  However, since many editorials are paid for by the company, I think one would be able to argue it is actually an advertisement and therefore not protected by "newsworthy" usage. 

Insofar as model releases, I tend to agree with you, but that is an issue with contracts and abuse within the industry, not really the law.

News reporting is one thing; street photography as we think of it today is another, different animal.

What HC-B used to do, and which street photographers try to ape today, wasn't street as we know street to mean now: it was reportage, financed by left-wing magazines with an agenda devoted to poverty, the masses and the situation of the Jews in a Europe where the Nazi party held a lot of influence, even if it was not in power in other countries. Of course the "downtrodden" would be delighted to be photographed by someone "on their side" however unlikely that might seem or be.

There is no comparison between the world of HC-B and today's world of social media and everyone looking to sue everyone else.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2020, 09:34:58 am by Rob C »
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kers

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2020, 08:35:46 am »

The lunacy continues.
from your quoted article:

" The problems only arise in extreme cases, for example, when someone is photographed in the sauna or on the beach."
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2020, 10:06:42 am »

from your quoted article:

" The problems only arise in extreme cases, for example, when someone is photographed in the sauna or on the beach."

Oh, please! Read the article carefully.

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2020, 10:55:20 am »

Evidently Europe's rulers (and I use that word advisedly) have decided that when you're out in public you have an expectation of privacy. That's an idea as close to insane as anything you can think of. As I think Slobodan pointed out, HCB, Kertesz, Chim, Doisneau, Ronis, Brassai, Riboud, and others who did street photography when the world was sane must be spinning in their graves.
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Rob C

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2020, 11:42:54 am »

Evidently Europe's rulers (and I use that word advisedly) have decided that when you're out in public you have an expectation of privacy. That's an idea as close to insane as anything you can think of. As I think Slobodan pointed out, HCB, Kertesz, Chim, Doisneau, Ronis, Brassai, Riboud, and others who did street photography when the world was sane must be spinning in their graves.

Could be, Russ, but their combined whirlings produce but a minor hum today. It also ignores the reasons for their photography, which I think was about anything but selfish, photographer gratification. As for the world having been sane then... really, you are serious? The world that gave us Stalin, Hitler and a little bit later Pol Pot and the boys, not to mention the earlier fun and games of the Conquistadores, various iterations of Crusaders, Genghis Khan et al...? The world has never been sane: at best it has held, briefly, onto a tiny oasis here and there. I think we are currently in another very dry spell with no minor puddles of sanity in sight. Jesus, just look at all of Africa, South America, Iran, NK, Syria, the US, Italian and UK politics right now if you want to see blind, dangerous madness running the show.

To misquote Harold Macmillan: we never had it (madness) so good.

Rob

John Camp

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2020, 01:33:17 pm »

The reason the US has a "liberal" position on such things as street photography goes much deeper than the problems of photographers or the concept of privacy. It goes to the whole idea of a democracy -- that if you can't know what's going on, how can you be a responsible citizen? That's why the US separates "commercial" usage from anything that could be argued is reportage or art, because art (as well as reportage, and sometimes better) also reflects what's going on in a culture. The idea of street or art photography is a logical evolution of the real intent, which is to allow reportage of political and other news events that the governing authority might wish to suppress, but which the public needs to know about (like lynchings in the American South, which might not have ever stopped without the horrifying coverage they engendered; the racist governing authorities at the time certainly had no intention of stopping them.) The American argument would be that if you draw complicated lines about what you can and cannot photograph or report upon in public places, where will the lines stop being drawn? The answer is, they won't be, when it's convenient for the governing authority to keep drawing them.

The US also makes it clear that you *can* have privacy -- nobody, including the police or the FBI, can break into your house or any other private place (like your car) without a warrant, or without knowledge of an immediate crime taking place. (The whole thing gets complicated, because if you are in your car, and you have a bag of weed laying on the front seat, and a cop stops you for a traffic offense, and sees the weed, he can arrest you and enter your car to secure it, without a warrant, because the weed is in public view. If it was in the trunk (boot) of your car, a private place, then he could not enter it.) By the same reasoning, nobody else can intrude on your privacy either, and that includes photographer. But you have to assert your privacy, and then you have to physically achieve it. You can't just raise a barbed wire fence around your property and stand behind it and say nobody can photograph you from the public street. You have to actually be out of sight.

Ultimately, I think the European system is a problem that lends support to authoritarianism. But one thing I've noticed in Europe (including the UK) is that people there seem to have a taste for authoritarianism. I think it gives them a sense of stability, which works until people start disappearing into the gulags. When Americans start disappearing into the gulags (American Indians, Japanese-Americans during World War II) at least people know about it, and there are protests, and eventually some possibility of some kind of recognition of wrong, and some possibility of compensation.) 
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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2020, 03:16:02 pm »

After twenty-six years in the military and three wars I’m certainly conversant with the insanity of the human race, Rob. Among other things, I was at Udon Thani in Thailand when the Case-Church amendment took effect and the United States ceased combat operations and abandoned the Cambodian people to the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, and one of the most horrendous genocides in recorded history (to quote part of the preface to my “Short Stories from Thai Seeds”). The insanity goes on. Look at the rioting here in the U.S., mostly by people destroying their own neighbors businesses, the businesses they need for their own comfort. At the bottom of the soul the human race never has been particularly sane.

But there is a sane side to human nature, and people like HCB have made that clear. There always are and always will be what I’ll call the “keyhole peepers”: the photographers or painters or writers or musicians who search for the nasty and sensational. But the heart of real street photography isn’t the nasty or sensational.

I’m going to assume few LuLaers have read my old essay, “On Street Photography” and quote some conclusions from it at length:

“There's a cliché that tells us a picture is worth a thousand words, but a truly great street photograph conveys something that words can't convey at all. In his wonderful book on the power of poetry, Poetry and Experience, Archibald MacLeish pointed out that poetry conveys its "meaning" not through the denotations or connotations of words, but through the interstices between images. And, in a sense, so it is with the best street photography. Within a great street photograph the people, like words, must themselves be understandable, but the real power of the photograph is in the relationships between the people and the geometry of their surroundings.

“Beyond the poetry of street photography there's an historical element street photography shares with other kinds of documentary photography. Unlike landscapes, Ansel Adams's "Half Dome" for instance, people change, and it's not just their surroundings and the way they dress that change. Their attitudes toward life change, and really good street photography can give later generations a revealing glimpse at the attitudes and the outlook of their forebears.

“Nowadays we can look at the photographs of Eugene Atget and learn something about the people who lived in his time and in his surroundings, but the most effective glimpse of historical human differences comes not from the kind of documentary photography possible with Atget's slow view camera and his posed subjects, but from the kind of street photography that became possible with the introduction of the small hand camera. Oskar Barnack's 1925 Leica finally made it possible for artists like Andre Kertesz  and Cartier-Bresson to photograph people as they are, in an uninterrupted state, rather than as they were when posing.

“An historical novelist guesses at the past on the best evidence he can find, but a photograph isn't a guess; it's an artifact that has captured time. And so, a street photograph that has captured not only the visages of its subjects but the story that surrounds their actions can be a more convincing reminder of how things were than any novel or any straight, posed documentary photograph.”

John Camp already has made the point very well that Europe is about to lose something that future generations should have been given: a look at their predecessors. They’ll have to jump all the way back to HCB and his contemporaries, and they’ll miss the generations that have given them their values. It’s a tragedy.
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Rob C

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Re: The Lunacy of German/European Street Photography Laws
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2020, 05:07:52 pm »

The reason the US has a "liberal" position on such things as street photography goes much deeper than the problems of photographers or the concept of privacy. It goes to the whole idea of a democracy -- that if you can't know what's going on, how can you be a responsible citizen? That's why the US separates "commercial" usage from anything that could be argued is reportage or art, because art (as well as reportage, and sometimes better) also reflects what's going on in a culture. The idea of street or art photography is a logical evolution of the real intent, which is to allow reportage of political and other news events that the governing authority might wish to suppress, but which the public needs to know about (like lynchings in the American South, which might not have ever stopped without the horrifying coverage they engendered; the racist governing authorities at the time certainly had no intention of stopping them.) The American argument would be that if you draw complicated lines about what you can and cannot photograph or report upon in public places, where will the lines stop being drawn? The answer is, they won't be, when it's convenient for the governing authority to keep drawing them.

The US also makes it clear that you *can* have privacy -- nobody, including the police or the FBI, can break into your house or any other private place (like your car) without a warrant, or without knowledge of an immediate crime taking place. (The whole thing gets complicated, because if you are in your car, and you have a bag of weed laying on the front seat, and a cop stops you for a traffic offense, and sees the weed, he can arrest you and enter your car to secure it, without a warrant, because the weed is in public view. If it was in the trunk (boot) of your car, a private place, then he could not enter it.) By the same reasoning, nobody else can intrude on your privacy either, and that includes photographer. But you have to assert your privacy, and then you have to physically achieve it. You can't just raise a barbed wire fence around your property and stand behind it and say nobody can photograph you from the public street. You have to actually be out of sight.

Ultimately, I think the European system is a problem that lends support to authoritarianism. But one thing I've noticed in Europe (including the UK) is that people there seem to have a taste for authoritarianism. I think it gives them a sense of stability, which works until people start disappearing into the gulags. When Americans start disappearing into the gulags (American Indians, Japanese-Americans during World War II) at least people know about it, and there are protests, and eventually some possibility of some kind of recognition of wrong, and some possibility of compensation.)

John, you seem to be suggesting that democracy somehow began as an American idea, and that it is today its flag-bearer. Not so by many centuries, and by a long chalk. Hanging flags from every available support and waving them on every occasion does not a democracy nor a country make, though it may define one or two.

Knowing what's going on is an admirable concept, but hardly supports being a street snapper. I think there's a world of difference between a so-called street shooter doing it largely for kicks, and a news photographer doing it for information that can, in turn, be relayed to the world. I can't stretch my imagination far enough to merge the drive to street with the reporting of lynchings, a sound reason for reportage that, today, rather than please the smug mugs of the thugs that did those things (as is obvious in the photos), would instead have the photographers hanging from those southern trees too.

That contemporary street may be derived from reportage isn't difficult to understand: that's what today's street guys are trying to ape, as I already suggested: wannabe HC-B cats, every last one of 'em. That said, they may believe they are trying to be Robert Frank or even dear old Garry, but it all goes back to reportage for magazines and newspapers. I often wonder what Garry did with all that stuff: did it actually sell and pay any bills? I really have no idea. It did no favours for most of the later people until it was possible to convince the art world that hey, it's art too! and by that time many of them were dead, so it was academic at best. There is no point in trying to fill a gap that no longer exists - street today is about self and ego, not reporting because nobody's going to print your stuff in their news magazine. What news magazine?

Authoritarianism as a European taste? Don't know about that, but certainly the more intelligent voter realises that without order you have chaos, and that chaos brings no good to anyone. Very few Europeans (apart from criminals), knowing what they do today from the American example, would ever desire their laws to enable the ownership of guns by the average Joe. They see enough crime as it is. Rampant gun ownership could only increase it to an even more deadly level. Rather than being any romantic nod to democracy, I think the relative lawlessness that seems to pass as part of the American ideal is more a sign of immaturity than of sophistication. If one desires a peaceful life, then it's not difficult to understand that that same peace must be extended to the rest of the community too. Selfishness brings no harmony.

Does government seek to erode personal freedoms? There may be some that do, especially the religiously driven ones, but you don't have to go as far as to the Middle East to find that. Birth control? Abortions?

At the moment, in Britain, we seem to have a govermnent that can't make up its mind whether it wants to save lives by strict quarantine regulations, or to play to the idiots who appear to believe the pandemic is all about the common cold and influenza. Heysoos, they can't even find the moral courage to fire the architect of the distancing policy who then went on to breach it with his entire family in the most appalling way. It attempts to bring in a cellphone app to track possible infection contacts but even there, lacks the guts to make it mandatory, leaving it voluntary instead, which means, effectively, useless. That's government clamping down on civil liberties? That's government showing its weakness and dependency on slogans, unelected officials (ironic, then, that so many its followers down the Brexit trail condemned Europe for its supposed dependency on unelected mandarins!) and with no deeper concern but to be relected next time too, so nobody must be offended less a vote be lost. Not much sign of any powerful democracy killers there... more, I'd suggest, of power-hungry individuals whose sole concern for power is not governance itself, but using position both to buy influence and to slant public spending policy in order to make themselves and their shell companies richer. A pox on them all.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2020, 05:15:37 pm by Rob C »
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