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  1. #1

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    Street photography ethics are getting beyond silly...

    http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended...t_photography/

    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.
    Last edited by batwister; 05-03-2013 at 07:06 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    'Cows are very fond of being photographed, and, unlike architecture, don't move.' - Oscar Wilde

  2. #2

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    There's kind of an implication in Colberg's article that only art photographers (working within the genre of street photography, whatever that is anyway) are at biggest 'risk' photographing the public. So it becomes a strange witch hunt against people with cameras that look 'arty'. Do we need 'iPhones only' signs on the street? Because I have one, and I'd be taking exactly the same pictures.
    'Cows are very fond of being photographed, and, unlike architecture, don't move.' - Oscar Wilde

  3. #3

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    Just how closely did you read the article? Nowhere does he say "documenting the times we live in is beyond the question of art." He says the exact opposite:

    "street photographers better tell the public how what they’re doing is not only mindful of the public’s concerns, but also constitutes an important and valuable artistic practice that enriches not just the practitioners’ but everybody else’s lives." Bold added.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Friday View Post
    Just how closely did you read the article? Nowhere does he say "documenting the times we live in is beyond the question of art." He says the exact opposite:

    "street photographers better tell the public how what they’re doing is not only mindful of the public’s concerns, but also constitutes an important and valuable artistic practice that enriches not just the practitioners’ but everybody else’s lives." Bold added.
    Sorry, it's my wording that's the problem. 'Documenting the times we live in is beyond the question of art' was my statement. Should have been a full stop before it.

    He emphasises the value of the art of street photography in the article, which I agree with, but I don't think there should be any question from the public about artistic intent or otherwise. The 'suspicion of intent' comes up in the linked video with David Hurn and co. That is the source of the problem really - what the image is for, where it will be used, how the subject will come across, yada yada. As long as the subject isn't doing anything ridiculous or criminal (which they shouldn't be in a public space), there is no risk of 'defamation'. So the use of their image isn't of their concern - unless they just can't handle being camera shy. The point of my 'beyond the question of art' thing, which David Hurn puts better in the video, was whether the public likes it or not, there is more an historical importance to images of public life which overrides the suspicions and unease of the people being photographed.
    Last edited by batwister; 05-03-2013 at 07:30 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    'Cows are very fond of being photographed, and, unlike architecture, don't move.' - Oscar Wilde

  5. #5
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    I very rarely do street photography. For that matter I seldom photograph people.

    However, when we are out in "public" we can rest assured our images are captured over and over. From security cams, to cell phones, the street photographer is the rarest of our captured likenesses. For reference, the Boston Marathon Bombers were captured over and over on a multitude of imaging devices.

    When I see a street photographer, I simply continue on with what I was doing, or get out of their frame, if I am blocking their view of what they wanted to photograph.

    Now the people who interrupt my dining experience with video and flash photography, I usually assist by giving them a big smile and wave. Even a "Hi Mom!", for the videos... Then they can forever wonder who I am. (Dear, he must be on your side of the family... I don't know him.)


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

  6. #6
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    That's the irony of the current fear-hysteria over "privacy" and a photographic boogeyman behind every lens -- the same people are either wholly ignorant or wholly uncaring that their public images are recorded surreptitiously on a nearly-continual basis by people with FAR more sinister motives than a street photographer's dedication to documentation.

    I'd rather contribute to a street photographer's contribution to art or the public dialogue, than some shadowy marketing agency or security apparatus selling my image for profit or oppression.
    "Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes."

    MY BLOG - www.reservedatalltimes.com
    YOU SHOULD LOOK AT THIS SITE - www.colincorneau.com
    INSTAGRAM: colincorneau

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    ...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...
    Not so mad or irrational. I had a small test of my own convictions just recently. We took a trip to Paris a few weeks ago, and one evening we made some time to visit the galleries at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation. My 6 yr old daughter, who loves to draw and often carries a small sketch notebook, quietly began to draw a still-life photo that was on display. The gallery was crowded, and at one point I noticed someone lurking behind a display intently watching my daughter and with a camera out and ready. I found myself instinctively moving in between them (on two occasions) to block the shot. That was all there was to it – he got the message and moved on, but it got me thinking. The photographer side of me recognized that it would have been a great shot, but that was overruled by present day concerns (which you also touch on) like where will this photo appear, and what will it really be used for. Odds are, it would have been destined for something innocuous, but as a parent do I want to take that chance?

    Perhaps more than anything else, this change in distribution channels plays a large part in people's attitudes towards things like street photography. In Winogrand's day (and before), the main distribution channels for (non journalism) photography were books, galleries and possibly magazines. Very narrow by today's standards, and only a very few made it into any of these venues. Contrast that to the present day where Flickr claimed that have over 6 billion photos uploaded in 2011. In 1965, a candid shot of you on the street would likely remain in a shoebox. In 2013, you will almost certainly be on display for all to see. Couple that with the fact that many feel increasingly powerless in all aspects of life, and people start to lash out.

    I do quite a bit of street photography, and while I don't feel that I should have to justify or explain my actions to anyone, I am increasingly wary of who I photograph --I won't take one if I sense the subject doesn't want me to, and of course I'm careful not to photograph children. So, while I realize that I have the “right” to take a photograph in a public place, it does not mean I get to waive respect and courtesy to others (nor am I implying that Colberg or anyone here is suggesting otherwise). We are certainly living through interesting times.
    Last edited by Jim Christie; 05-04-2013 at 02:49 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #8
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    I quote from the foot notes:
    Given I have not seen the Winogrand show or looked at the book I am in no position to comment on whether or not the work portrays women in a very unflattering light. For what itís worth, I spoke with a couple of friends who met the photographer as students, and they both seemed to agree with Millnerís assessment.
    THEN WHY ARE YOU COMMENTING ON IT?????

    I also have a couple of close friends who thought that George W Bush was an intelligent man...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Christie View Post

    Perhaps more than anything else, this change in distribution channels plays a large part in people's attitudes towards things like street photography. In Winogrand's day (and before), the main distribution channels for (non journalism) photography were books, galleries and possibly magazines. Very narrow by today's standards, and only a very few made it into any of these venues. Contrast that to the present day where Flickr claimed that have over 6 billion photos uploaded in 2011. In 1965, a candid shot of you on the street would likely remain in a shoebox. In 2013, you will almost certainly be on display for all to see. Couple that with the fact that many feel increasingly powerless in all aspects of life, and people start to lash out.
    You nailed it, right there, 1000%. This is the world we live in. The internet changed everything for photography, and honestly I don't think most of it is good at all. Can't have our cake and eat it too. Yes, we did gain speed of access, convenience, exposure (in a good way, as photographers), but in return we received loss of privacy at every level, paranoia by those being photographed, extreme competition, loss of real world skills, and being bombarded by loads of junk that a mere 15 year ago would have indeed been relegated to a shoe box. There is sensory overload at every level and many are just getting fed up and lash out. Not surprising at all.

  10. #10

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    often times when a photographer does street-work sHe has some sort of connection
    with the place sHe is covering. these days that is being done 24/7

    who needs street photography when we have these
    http://www.opentopia.com/hiddencam.php
    http://www.webcamgalore.com/EN/
    oh, i forgot to mention google earth ...

    it seems to be almost the end of an era.

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