Street photography ethics are getting beyond silly...
and, I don't know if anyone has watched this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MB_NA8kLDII
Long, but well worth it.
I personally think that JM Colberg's entry is pretentiously contrary. The problem is the general public and public spaces, not photographers and their twisted ways. I don't buy Colberg's 'art photography is niche' argument. Documenting the times we live in is beyond the question of art. Being witness to human history is critical, regardless of our ridiculous, unfounded collective sensitivities - which in our culture are almost entirely influenced by the media, and their insistence on filling us with fear about community monsters (a pedophile every 6 feet is it now?). Celebrity culture too has one of the biggest impacts on people's paranoia about being photographed, and we have a warped, fantastical idea about what our privacy really is/means. 'Public spaces' exist purely as thoroughfares for consumerist madness - most people simply want to get from shop A to shop B without interference. I feel as though photography today (and traditional photography especially) has the potential for an eruptive anti-capitalist streak.
I've not had many confrontations when photographing people and I usually ask, even if they're off some way in the distance - for me it's only usually one or two people interacting with a scene. Every time I see someone taking pictures in cities or towns (if I'm walking from shop A to shop B myself ;)) I get this urge to turn away or walk behind them - which is mad, being a photographer myself - so I feel as though I (and we) have a unique perspective in that sense, knowing this fear comes from a contradictory, and I'd argue, irrational place. I'll be making a point of being reciprocal with other street photographers in the future.