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Basic Etiquette for Photographing in Public Places


davidburleson 14 3.0k 3 United Kingdom
31 Aug 2016 9:06AM
If we, as a photographic community, were to put together 'Basic Etiquette for Photographing in Public Places', what would everyone think should be included?
exposure Plus
16 6.0k United Kingdom
31 Aug 2016 10:21AM
Ask & whether a yes or no, say please & thank you
sherlob Plus
14 3.2k 129 United Kingdom
31 Aug 2016 11:16AM
Remember - no means no.
DaveRyder Plus
6 5.0k 7 United Kingdom
31 Aug 2016 11:53AM
In all cases be respectful of those around you including those not in shot.

Standing in front of someone for an extended period while getting just what you need may be obstructing others enjoyment of an event or scene.

Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
31 Aug 2016 9:26PM

Quote:If we, as a photographic community, were to put together 'Basic Etiquette for Photographing in Public Places', what would everyone think should be included?


Good luck with this, its a tough one.

With educators like this (first video) Sad combat pants and boots might be a good idea.
ChrisV Plus
14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2016 12:58PM
I'd say unless there are very pressing reasons which dictate otherwise, don't ever take photos of people who don't want to be photographed.

Sometimes that may be impractical or unreasonable [crowd shots for example] or you've been commissioned to do something very specific, which can't be repeated. Otherwise it's simply a question of your convenience and desires vs the feelings and right to privacy of the individual in question. When I talk about 'right' here, it's not a question of legal right, but simple human dignity and the right to exercise whether your own image is under [at least some degree] your own control.

I don't think there's ever going to be a one size fits all answer to the question, but a lack of courtesy doesn't just impact the people in any given situation, it also has a knock-on effect to the way all photographers are perceived.
Canonshots 10 203 13 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2016 1:24PM
The question can sometimes apply to animals, too. I have come across people who would rather their pets were not photographed (and others who are flattered by such attention).
Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
1 Sep 2016 8:16PM

Quote:If we, as a photographic community, were to put together 'Basic Etiquette for Photographing in Public Places', what would everyone think should be included?


1) When in Rome do as the Romans do, don`t just blend in, mix in and be apart of it all, if your fitting in your going to be a lot less likely of offending people, good for events, music festivals etc.

The wrong way

A better way

Ask that girl to paint your hand with henna, say nice things, make here smile, then ask for a quick pic of her painting your hand, she will most probably agree.

2) Leave the camera at home, walk down your local high street, stand in a spot and stretch your arms out, imagine there`s a tingling sensation at each finger tip, your in a bubble, a protective cocoon (this is your own personal space)

Now look at everyone else on the street and imagine there also walking around in there very own protective bubbles.

StrayCat 16 19.1k 3 Canada
1 Sep 2016 8:57PM
Basic courtesy, manners, as most of us were taught from our childhood. Common sense takes care of just about everything.
davidburleson 14 3.0k 3 United Kingdom
2 Sep 2016 8:41AM
Here's one that I experienced over the weekend:

Don't make your subject pose long while you take a number of shots without first asking.

I think a 'Can I take your photo' is usually interpreted as 'Can I take one photo of you'. If you want to take a few shots, say so, maybe just after your first shot. 'Do you mind if I take a few more shots?' That way the subject can decide if they want to stick around a few more minutes with you or move on with what they were doing before you decided to take their photo.
Nick_w Plus
13 4.3k 99 England
2 Sep 2016 9:56AM
I saw the other thread, as photographers we have not just a legal responsibility, but a moral one too. Just because we can legally do something, doesn't always mean we should.

A little courteousy goes a long way.

The rule of thumb I use is, would I be happy if the tables were turned if the answers yes then go ahead. If the answers no, I have to think long and hard, if it's through my stupidity then that's my fault as the subject.

An example is the following:
https://www.ephotozine.com/user/nick-w-61515/gallery/photo/where-the-streets-have-no-namw-11640375/page/13

Forgive the processing it's dreadful, but this young lady was completely wasted and was eventually led away by the police. Even now I still think, should I have taken that image?

Now this is different, I snapped these guys watching the young lady, even had a pint with them later, as one guy was the singer performing in the pub, the other guy owned the bar. I showed them the image.

https://www.ephotozine.com/user/nick-w-61515/gallery/photo/what-the-feck-eddie---11504948/page/13

Now I couldn't show the young lady, I don't think she could even focus but my point is she put herself in that position, so under my own "rules" that was her own stupidity, but still I'm not sure I should have taken it.

My personal no, no's are
Candids of children where the parents don't know I'm taking pictures.(even then I probably wouldn't even take the camera out)
Voyeuristic, sordid type images ( you know the ones, the ones taken by men in macs )
If the subject lets me know they don't want their picture taken - an example is the other thread I would have shown the lady my images, and if she still wasn't happy I would have deleted them, and let her see me doing it.

FredDee 7 78 United Kingdom
2 Sep 2016 4:03PM
.....If the subject lets me know they don't want their picture taken - an example is the other thread I would have shown the lady my images, and if she still wasn't happy I would have deleted them, and let her see me doing it...

...And if you have WiFi you could have sent them to your 'smart phone' before turning to her and showing her the deletion of the images in the camera !

Just kidding.... !
saltireblue Plus
10 11.4k 69 Norway
2 Sep 2016 4:14PM

Quote:Just kidding.... !


I hope so...that's worse than refusing to stop taking photos when asked to as in the opening scenario...
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2345 United Kingdom
2 Sep 2016 4:44PM

Quote:I don't think there's ever going to be a one size fits all answer to the question, but a lack of courtesy doesn't just impact the people in any given situation, it also has a knock-on effect to the way all photographers are perceived.

That sums it up well for me. There are two separate issues involved here, photographers' rights and photographers' responsibilities.

We have the legal right to take photographs in 'public places' (remember that that means publicly owned, it doesn't include places where the public are simply allowed access but conditions may be attached). That's not the whole story though.

Our basic social responsibilities include courtesy, consideration and respect for others. That can, I know, be a difficult concept for a few people. But courtesy, consideration and respect are at least as important as knowing our legal rights when it comes to maintaining our freedom to take photographs.

So far as guidelines are concerned, there are so many variables, the main ones being location / event, style of photography and the subject's circumstances.

Location / event - there are places and situations where everyone will have a camera out, I know I am going to appear in other people's shots from the day so I reckon there's no reason why they shouldn't appear in mine. But there are also situations where you don't expect to see a photographer in action, where it's more likely to arouse hostility. During the two minute silence on Remembrance Sunday, for example.

Style - My idea of street photography is about the relationship between people and the man-made environment. People as part of a bigger picture. Candid portraits, picking out a single face without context, that's altogether more problematic.

Circumstances - I'm very wary of prying into personal distress, of exploiting vulnerable people. There's a nasty world out there and it needs to be reported, but it's about that world and not just the individual. Nick's first linked photograph, Where the streets have no name is a moving example, because it stands back, it doesn't pry.

For the opposite approach, can I quote (from memory, so not necessarily 100% exact) the description of an upload that I saw here years ago? 'This is another pic of the old beggar who used to hang around the hotel kitchen's back door. Very photogenic, but just as well we don't have smellovision LOL. He didn't want to pose but I chased him down'.

Something else that matters if we are to avoid being treated as a public nuisance, and this follows on from the other thread - if someone is engaged in a delicate, precise activity, let's say henna-painting for example, the last thing you want to do (I hope) is to startle them into making a mistake. So it's only polite to ask their permission, so that they are forewarned. If you are photographing their skill the truth of the image will not be in any way compromised.

All those are variables that we need to be aware of. So far as guidelines are concerned, I would suggest:

Consider other people's feelings and avoid causing hurt.

Avoid prying into people's lives - stand back, allow them space.

Always be open, be prepared to explain what you are doing, and to show your pictures. Offer to send them to the subject if they might be of use - don't be over-protective of copyright if your brilliant image is down to having a brilliant subject.

If a child are going to be anything more prominent than a face in a crowd, check with the parents. And No means No. Full stop.

2 Sep 2016 8:15PM
Absolutely Moira, surely nothing more to be said...

especially where considering what we can do by "right" compared with what common sense and sensitivity dictates, and a lot of bad PR can result surely, from getting it wrong...

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