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Street photographer or voyeur?
Old 01-27-2011   #1
Jamie Pillers
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Street photographer or voyeur?

How do you react when someone on the street catches you taking their picture? Do you lower the camera and move on, or take it anyway?

And how do you react when you see the final image? Excited? Proud? Or do you sometimes feel like me... wondering why I'm intruding on people's lives and making a spectacle of them here on the web?

Apropos these thoughts, check out the "W/NW The Look" thread I just started.
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Old 01-27-2011   #2
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I am of the view that there is no intrusion if everyone is in a public space.
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Old 01-27-2011   #3
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Yeah I wish I didn't look away when I get caught checking someone out or making a street picture. Yet I will still do it, most of the time, out of some deeply seated habit. If I dare to look, I should have the guts to really look.
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Old 01-27-2011   #4
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It depends. If someone notices me preparing to take the picture, I might stop, but if they notice me while I'm already taking the picture, I won't stop.

It doesn't make much of a difference: If the subject minds, and he/she will ask me to discard the picture, I will oblige. If he/she doesn't object, then I'll walk away. No reason to feel guilty - all I'm interested in is taking pictures without getting harrassed.

PS: If you admit letting the thought of being a voyeur come into your mind, you (a) will be a voyeur, and (b) you'll lose your spontaneous ability to record the scene at hand without influencing it.
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Old 01-27-2011   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Pillers View Post
How do you react when someone on the street catches you taking their picture? Do you lower the camera and move on, or take it anyway?

And how do you react when you see the final image? Excited? Proud? Or do you sometimes feel like me... wondering why I'm intruding on people's lives and making a spectacle of them here on the web?

Apropos these thoughts, check out the "W/NW The Look" thread I just started.
A smile & a nod goes a long way. Occasionally, if I'm getting a bad vibe, then I'll put the camera down, but for the most part I'll take the photo.

If the final image works, then yes of course there's a sense of accomplishment/achievement... but this is a rarity!
And no, i've never felt like I'm intruding....

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Old 01-27-2011   #6
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Legally correct. :-)
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Old 01-27-2011   #7
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This is probably one of the reasons I don't care all that much for street photography. I do feel like it's an intrusion.
To be clear, I believe you have the right to take photos in public. Or, to put it another way: I believe you have the right to intrude in people's lives when they are out on a public street.

Just makes you look a little sneaky when you get noticed - and respond by quickly pulling the camera down.
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Hi Arjay
Old 01-27-2011   #8
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Hi Arjay

A couple of posts above, you mentioned that you would oblige if asked to delete a photo.

Anyways, what is your procedure for deleting film photos of people who object to your taking their photo, and request that you delete it??

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Originally Posted by Arjay View Post
Funny thing you should say this. I recently took a picture using my (film) Hexar AF, and someone objected, wanting to see the picture. I showed them the back of my camera without any moniotor. That immediately calmed the situation, as the person was so astonished about my camera and my inability to react that that was the end of the confrontation. He simply had never seen a film-based camera before, and did not take me for a serious photographer.
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Old 01-27-2011   #9
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I specialize in the moment of getting busted. The pictures I like best are the ones where the subject has just noticed and has an expression of instant reaction on their face. I like the other kind too - the true candid where the subject is oblivious, but it's not as exciting - and the pictures aren't as good. The eye contact with the subject does add to the picture.
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Old 01-27-2011   #10
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If someone doesn't want you to photograph them, why take it anyways? Is that art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Pillers View Post
How do you react when someone on the street catches you taking their picture? Do you lower the camera and move on, or take it anyway?

And how do you react when you see the final image? Excited? Proud? Or do you sometimes feel like me... wondering why I'm intruding on people's lives and making a spectacle of them here on the web?

Apropos these thoughts, check out the "W/NW The Look" thread I just started.
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Last edited by Doug : 01-29-2011 at 17:22. Reason: Hate? harass?
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Old 01-27-2011   #11
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I like the thought you hint at in the second paragraph. For me it goes something like: "My objective in making street photographs is to record what our street looked like in 2011, an honest, straightforward, and necessary vocation."
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Old 01-27-2011   #12
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Actually they have them on a lot of digital cameras. Its a function called something like "Hide" and prevents that image from being seen in playback. :-)
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Old 01-27-2011   #13
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Tim, you raise the other side of my 'feelings' about this whole matter. I justify what I'm doing by remindiing myself that we would have never known what, say, 1930's New York street life was like without the street photographers of that time.
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Old 01-27-2011   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
A couple of posts above, you mentioned that you would oblige if asked to delete a photo.
Anyways, what is your procedure for deleting film photos of people who object to your taking their photo, and request that you delete it??
I'm waiting for your suggestion. I have no idea - I just mentioned it because it was an amusing situation.
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Old 01-27-2011   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbarker13 View Post
Just makes you look a little sneaky when you get noticed - and respond by quickly pulling the camera down.
Yep - behaving this way causes more attention to yourself than necessary... so why be sneaky? Why not go out with purpose like you belong out there taking pictures? It's easier to disappear when people aren't suspicious...
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Old 01-27-2011   #16
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I totally agree with this approach. Having this positive 'we're all in this together' attitude generally makes the activity acceptable to all. And I'm going to try remembering your idea of putting the camera down when I'm feeling 'cranky'. :-)
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Old 01-27-2011   #17
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I love it! "I specialize in the moment of getting busted." Can I use this as my motto? I think I might order a lapel pin with this on it. :-)
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Hi Arjay
Old 01-27-2011   #18
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Hi Arjay

My suggestion is if you've taken a candid photo, even legally and in public, and the person, or their parent/guardian kindly requests that you erase or delete the photo that you too, is to apologize and to give them the roll of film in your camera.

Quote:
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I'm waiting for your suggestion. I have no idea - I just mentioned it because it was an amusing situation.
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Old 01-27-2011   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Pillers View Post
How do you react when someone on the street catches you taking their picture? Do you lower the camera and move on, or take it anyway?
I generally take the picture and then smile and wish them a wonderful day and then continue with what I'm doing or depending on the subject(s) and their reaction I might try to get a few street/candid portraits.

Example the original I guess you'd say street shot/frame was an OK shot, but I much prefer this later frame/candid portrait.
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Old 01-27-2011   #20
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Without too much debate of the details, I think there's probably a very fine line between harassment (unacceptable in my book) and capturing a moment of awareness, discovery, illumination.
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Old 01-27-2011   #21
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Mike,
This would fit right in the thread W/NW The Look! :-)
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Old 01-27-2011   #22
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When I'm 'caught' I just smile. Sometimes I say something incredibly witty like 'damn, you caught me' and grin sheepishly and move on. So far, nobody ever tried to stop me or wanted to see the photo or whatever.

But sometimes someone I want to photograph notices me too early. Then I usually do not make the picture; it's gone anyway.

I do not feel like I'm intruding: they're in public, usually don't notice me, and when they do I try to make it a nice little encounter -- not an intrusion.
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Old 01-27-2011   #23
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In that situation, I might stop taking photos after someone objected, but barring imminent serious bodily harm, I would never delete a digital shot & would certainly never hand over film.

Quote:
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My suggestion is if you've taken a candid photo, even legally and in public, and the person, or their parent/guardian kindly requests that you erase or delete the photo that you too, is to apologize and to give them the roll of film in your camera.
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Old 01-27-2011   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
My suggestion is if you've taken a candid photo, even legally and in public, and the person, or their parent/guardian kindly requests that you erase or delete the photo that you too, is to apologize and to give them the roll of film in your camera.
Better yet just hand them your entire camera, give up photography. Write poetry as a creative outlet. Nice poems - about birds and love and stuff. Never make anyone feel uncomfortable again.
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Old 01-27-2011   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
My suggestion is if you've taken a candid photo, even legally and in public, and the person, or their parent/guardian kindly requests that you erase or delete the photo that you too, is to apologize and to give them the roll of film in your camera.
I will make a mental note that I will not publish the corresponding photograph. Why give up the film with up to 35 perfectly legitimate pictures? The only people who can make me hand out a film are policemen.
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Old 01-27-2011   #26
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Mike I agree with you. If I am 'busted' I smile and say hello. Nine times out of ten that results in a happy encounter.
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Old 01-27-2011   #27
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Depends on whether the photo is worth taking.

I'm not sure why you feel that photography = intrusion. Just because someone notices you taking a photo doesn't mean they object or feel threatened. Often, people start smiling or mugging for the camera (e.g., Japanese & other E. Asian tourists often throw the peace sign), which can also ruin or improve a photo, depending on the situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Pillers View Post
How do you react when someone on the street catches you taking their picture? Do you lower the camera and move on, or take it anyway?

And how do you react when you see the final image? Excited? Proud? Or do you sometimes feel like me... wondering why I'm intruding on people's lives and making a spectacle of them here on the web?

Apropos these thoughts, check out the "W/NW The Look" thread I just started.
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Old 01-27-2011   #28
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This is always the moment that I hope to avoid. But when it happens I try to pull out the "sense of humor" and, if it seems like they REALLY want a serious explanation, a brief description of my 'project' (often made-up on the fly). But in the end, I suppose I'm the type that gives in and deletes the image. If I'm using film, I offer to send them the negative. At this point I've never had anyone ask for the entire roll... yet. :-o
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Old 01-27-2011   #29
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Dear Jamie,

Street photographer or voyeur?

Your choice, really. At least as much as theirs.

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Old 01-27-2011   #30
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Trust me Jamie, the future is going to know what Oakland and Berlin in 2011 looked like, without you and Arjay harrassing a lot of innocent folks trying to just live their lives.
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Old 01-27-2011   #31
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Quote:
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Trust me Jamie, the future is going to know what Oakland and Berlin in 2011 looked like, without you and Arjay harrassing a lot of innocent folks trying to just live their lives.
Largely because other people have been 'harrassing a lot of innocent folks trying to just live their lives'.

Why the automatic assumption that street photography = harassment?

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Old 01-27-2011   #32
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28mm: street photographer
85-200mm zoom: voyeur :-)
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Old 01-27-2011   #33
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Only if Arjay and I get out there and blast away! :-) We owe much of our knowledge of 20th century life to all those street photographers that have gone before us. :-)
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Old 01-27-2011   #34
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Quote:
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28mm: street photographer
85-200mm zoom: voyeur :-)

really though... who looks more suspicious?
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Old 01-27-2011   #35
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As the kids say: Word.

Is every person on the street now Princess Diana being chased by paparazzi? Puh-leeze.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Largely because other people have been 'harrassing a lot of innocent folks trying to just live their lives'.

Why the automatic assumption that street photography = harassment?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-27-2011   #36
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For me pictures where I've been spotted don't make it. I prefer candid, unnoticed, best of all something I hadn't noticed, a surprise!

As for voyeurism, I can't deny it, so I live with it. Some opportunities I choose to let go on the basis that this particular situation I shouldn't intrude on.

Just my two p's worth.
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Old 01-27-2011   #37
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It depends on the situation. People making a spectacle of themselves on a city street looking for attention? I will photograph right up in their face. People just minding their business? I'll probably do it on the DL or not at all. However, generally I just don't like feeling uncomfortable. If I feel uncomfortable, I probably shouldn't be making the photo. That said, sometimes you have to get over this and just make the photo. It depends on the day, the moment, the person, the part of town, etc.
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Old 01-27-2011   #38
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again I am referring to taking photos of people who do not wish to be photographed, and aware that they are, and give some indication.

Quote:
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Largely because other people have been 'harrassing a lot of innocent folks trying to just live their lives'.

Why the automatic assumption that street photography = harassment?

Cheers,

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Old 01-27-2011   #39
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What Roger said above: your choice. If you feel like a voyeur, that is what you will project through expression and body language and that is then what you will be perceived as. Feel confident about what you do, and you will seem natural and confident to others.

+1 for
Quote:
a smile and a nod goes a long way.
As to
Quote:
if someone doesn't want you to photograph them, why harass them and take it anyways? Is that art?
Yes sometimes that is how art is made. A lot of art is social commentary that is not flattering to many of its targets. Also think of political theater, cabaret, and comedy. Remember Spitting Image in the UK? The Daily Show in the US these days?

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Old 01-27-2011   #40
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Quote:
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It depends on the situation. People making a spectacle of themselves on a city street looking for attention? I will photograph right up in their face. People just minding their business? I'll probably do it on the DL or not at all. However, generally I just don't like feeling uncomfortable. If I feel uncomfortable, I probably shouldn't be making the photo. That said, sometimes you have to get over this and just make the photo. It depends on the day, the moment, the person, the part of town, etc.
Spot on! You really have to feel the situation out and just be as fluid as possible...its not easy that's for sure. I've had run ins with people from time to time never gave up anything, the roll of film or digital....I'll sometimes say I wasn't taking a photograph of you or make up something. I think its easiest in more crowded situations where you can blend in pretty easy. Its when there is not many people around can get tricky and you just have to go with your feel. I've photographed on the train not easy but you just have to work fast and be very decisive. Sometimes I lift to the camera to my eye make the picture put the camera down and not advance the film that can work.... Or just shoot from the hip always fun and unpredictable. Oh I've also had run ins with people when I wasn't even photographing people that's a whole other story.....
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