Holy thread revival, batman.

Quote Originally Posted by mhofmeist View Post
Maybe it sucks when you are the photographer, but see it from the other side, too. People here feel molested by being photographed without their consent. They do not want to be forced to behave every moment as if they were under scrutiny, but be unselfconscious, without fearing that any embarrassing situation is shown to all the world. Not everything that happens in public is meant to be published.
Attitudes towards privacy and such vary from country to country (and even among different parts of society within a country), there is no universal "right" or "wrong" in these matters. IMHO it is rather rude to judge other people's traditions or attitudes, nobody can claim to have the only "right" one.
It sucks for everyone, not just the photographer. It isn't always an us vs. them thing. I think we can all benefit from street photography. Where would we be, what would our ideas be of New York without those iconic photos taken in the '40s, '50s, and '60s? What about HCB's France, or his trek to the Soviet Union, or Bruce Davidson's portrait of American transit in the 1980s? Street photography is a way to document our society in it's truest manner for future generations, without the posing and political-correctness that comes with consent. Without street photography, what document of 2013 will there be in 50 years? Katherine Heigl rom-coms and a billion Instagram selfies? That only tells part of the tale of our modern world. We need street photography for an honest document of our world at different times. If we get all antsy and decide to just erect massive privacy laws to prevent this vital form of communication to occur, then we're going to be worse off.

Molested, eh? That's a bit melodramatic. Klara Yoon and Severin Koller (yes, he's Austrian, but is in Berlin often*) seem to do fine. They aren't forced to be scrutinized or critiqued by their every gesture. People are just there, doing their own thing, and I think it's important to preserve those moments for future generations. These people are not generally scrutinized themselves in my experience, because while the photo may include them, the photo itself carries meaning far beyond them. It's their image that happens to represent something greater. I could care less if so and so did such and such, I just found something about them interesting, in an unbiased, impersonal manner. It's usually the photographer that is scrutinized, not really the subjects. As for being embarrassed, well, I think as a street photographer, I have to ensure that I do not publish a photo including someone that I could see being embarrassing. I think street photographers have a moral duty to ensure that their subject's likeness is not ruined by their photo being taken. Obviously, certain street photographers may have different opinions, but that's my stance.

Honestly, I think we sometimes take ourselves too seriously in the West. People are a lot more laissez-faire about this, it seems, in the developing world.

* Then again, I hear Berlin is a bit of an anomaly within Germany and have heard it referred to as very un-German. People seem to be more laid back, with less rigid schedules, more emphasis on the arts, so maybe that has to do with things working out better vis a vis street photography in Berlin.