Ethics of shooting random people

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Riggaberto, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. Riggaberto

    Riggaberto TPF Noob!

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    I saw another thread about finding subjects, but I want to provide my own dilemma.

    I dont work for any newspaper, school or otherwise. My only current goal is to take pictures of people and things in public and share them with people I know. Not just random meaningless crap obviously, but compelling photography. Is there anything wrong with that? I always feel so uncomfortable taking pictures of unsuspecting people, who then look at me like I'm a creeper. Should I care? Should I start a photo blog or something so I have a "higher purpose?" I want more subjects also, and I realize that they're all around me, but everyone is afraid to have their picture taken.

    Someone also mentioned talking to people if I want to look professional.

    (snaps photo, and gets noticed)
    Person: So what's the photo for?
    Me: Just a hobby
    Person: ...ok (gives a weird look)

    That's what I'm experiencing so far. Thanks for helping out someone who doesn't know what they're doing. I really really appreciate it!
     
  2. avcabob

    avcabob TPF Noob!

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    Firstly, I'm sure the law is slightly different wherever you happen to be, especially in different countries. But a VERY quick search for laws in the United States, I found this website: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm. Basically, for the most part, if you are on public property, you are allowed to take pictures of whatever you can see. But if you really want to be sure on what you can and can't do, I would suggest talking to a legal professional in your area.
     
  3. bnz506

    bnz506 TPF Noob!

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    I currently live by that motto of "In public if I can see it I can shoot it" the only thing thats holding me back is my shyness (I think thats the issue). I dont mind shooting unsuspecting people its the possibility of confrontation if the person sees me taking their picture that bothers me and I live in NYC people here are VERY VERY confrontational.

    Im working on getting over that though. If they have a problem ill put them down hard (jk... maybe).
     
  4. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    This discussion comes up quite often, as do the debates about what is right and what is wrong.
    It doesnt say where you're from but I do know that the above link says it's ok to take pictures of law enforcement officers. However, in canada you can absolutley not do this!!! Why.. we're not sure.. nor is the secretary at my local police detachment, nor could you find any information regarding Canadian laws.

    I've tried to research the heck out of this so I hope you have better luck.

    That's my 'technical' answer. I won't get into my opinionated answer.

    Good Luck
     
  5. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    If you are using the images to market something and the image gives the impression that the people in the image are endorsing the product you would probably requuire a model releae other than that you are probably ok.
     
  6. DeepSpring

    DeepSpring TPF Noob!

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    It's just a shyness that can take some time to get over.

    One thing that helped me a lot was I would find a busy intersection by my house and just sit on a small wall or fence or something. I would hold the camera to my face pretending like I am taking a picture of something else and then when someone walks into frame snap snap. Sometimes the people even jump back and try to apalogize for getting in your shot, those make great shots.
     
  7. eddiesimages

    eddiesimages TPF Noob!

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    I was thinking the same thing - if you ever want to use these photos of people you will have to have a model release from each of them.
     
  8. bnz506

    bnz506 TPF Noob!

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    HAHA thats clever, I might have to give that a try.
     
  9. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I have a very opinionated view on the subject. As photographers we should respect our subjects. Taking someone's photo and then walking away is disrespectful. If you are shooting some one jumping over a puddle "Decisive Moment" style. Shoot it. If they see that you took the shot introduce yourself and explain the shot is for personal use. May or may not be in a gallery or editorial article. Specify not for commercial use. If it is they have to sign on the line that is dotted. If you see a hot chick sitting by a water fountain "Photography Moment" style. Ask first. Again be personable and explain your self. If you are photographing a potentially sensitive subject i.e police station, airport, government building. Plan on being harassed. It will be harder to explain yourself. I just do what the pigs tell me and walk away. Their job is hard enough. They do not need some photographer wasting their time.


    These methods are tried and true on this end. Just the way I operate. You may find that gorilla photography works for you. Be comfortable with your style. If not it will clearly show in the photo.
     
  10. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Interestingly, I had 2 situations this week that I am very disappointed that I missed. In the first, I was going home from work and saw 4 elderly women on the corner of a busy intersection with protest signs regarding the war. I have been carrying my camera w/ me for the past couple of weeks thinking that I will take pics on my lunch break but something always comes up. Anyway, I was running late or I would've come back and captured them. I wouldn't have asked their permission as they were clearly there to attract as much attention to themselves and would probably welcome the opportunity. Also that is an example where I figure you are in public view and I have every right to photograph you. I keep looking for them again and I'm sure they'll re-appear at some point.

    The second case was a guy I saw yesterday painting a scene and was set up on the sidewalk. I saw him on my way to work and when I went back at lunch he was gone. Even though I am normally a bit shy about going up to strangers and asking for permission to photograph them, I am determined to overcome that and will do so if I see him there again.

    Two perfectly good photo ops that I missed :(
     
  11. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Generally you will find that people are just as personable as you are. One of the few rules of photography is; do not be shy.
     
  12. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    I agree that we need to respect our subjects. I for one would not want someone to take my picture and then walk away... I'd track them down for two reasons 1. Why are you taking my picture (i'd be a little upset) 2. I like talking about photography.

    This is a subject that will go round and round till the end of time.

    Everyone has their own thing. I'd feel like a paparazzi if I just randomly took pictures of people I didn't know.
    If I ever came across a webpage and seen a picture of me relaxing under a tree or something I'd be furious and demand it be taken down.

    And because there's people like me out there :wink: , I'd always ask permission and give them a business card.
    Of course the best pictures are taken when they dont know they're being photographed so I would introduce myself after.
     

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