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Street photography. Is it intrusive and unethical.

paulbroad 10 123 1245 United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 9:52AM
I seem to have started something off in the critique gallery. My shot of an upset boy resulted, asi had asked, in discussion on ethics and intrusion.

The term candid means an image taken without the subjects knowledge. Several thought this was intrusive, but if you seek permission before shooting the shot cannot be a candid. The genre has existed since the invention of faster shutter speeds and is the basis of reporting photography and people like Cartier Bresson and Robert Capa made a living from it.

Ethics? Who decides what is ethical? One persons unethical is not anothers. Showing a child seems to be unethical these days but, in my opinion a child is no different to an adut and it is just the actions of a tiny number of evil people that has brought this about. The real answer is to deal with the offenders in a suitable manner, not penalise the huge minority of innocent people.

For candids, I either use a long lens or a bridge camera with all sound turned off. All candids are shot, by definitiion as l said earlier, by hiding youself or camera. That has never changed. Thus, the bottom line must be that shooting candid images of any kind is not acceptable?

Many of the greatest images ever taken are candid. It is a branch of photography. The law in the UK says that you do not have copyright of your own features and can be photographed in a public place without recourse unless a breach of the peace is involved.

So, in the UK, shooting images which include people in a public place is not a problem providing a breach of the peace does not occur. Thus it is down to ethics, and I don't need a course on ethics, I'm 68 years old and have spent most of my life managing all sorts of people. My ethical beliefs are fully established.

In this strange world that we live in, we have to be very careful not to be considered either a terrorist or child molestor when we press the button.

Where are we going!


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timbo 15 596 United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 10:21AM
As always, photographing children is a touchy subject which is probably what worries people. If it were an adult crying there would be less of a fuss. Take it a step further and go abroad, we would snap away in the streets of Calcutta or some such place without a second thought for the ethics involved.
It is right to protect our young but we, apparently, live in a free country so while the law allows us to take pictures in public there is no reason why we shouldn't do so. Work to your own concience and maybe be more selective of what yu show.
sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 10:24AM
An over simplistic way of defining 'ethics'...

A Moral = is a shared set of values

An Ethic = a commonly accepted set of Morals

Therefore, an ethic requires a mass of shared opinion within any society. As for a who decides what is ethical - well there we could get into a mire... the media, politics etc...

Is it ethical to take candids - yes I think it can be - but not always. There is a fine balance between acceptable candids and an invasion of privacy. A very rough rule of thumb is simply to ask myself - would I object to someone taking a picture of me, or my loved ones, in the same situation. If the answer is 'yes' then I don't attempt the shot.

However, I don't think candid photography equates with covert photography - and I suggest that your OP implies this. For example, I am often quite obvious that I am taking my candid images. When I do this some individuals make it clear to me that they are not happy - and I always respect this and lower my camera. Those who don't react - I assume (assume = ass/u/me) a degree of consent.

sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 10:28AM
Edit: another self gauge is asking myself the risk versus benefit question. Does the perceived risk of taking the shot - to me, to the subject, or to any others, balance against the benefits of the image? In the case of your image of the young boy I would, with respect, suggest that the image could have worsened his misery - that would have been enough to stop me.
ianrobinson Plus
8 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 10:39AM
There is no law stating you cannot take pictures out in the street until that day, enjoy your photography.
We are starting to live in a state of scared to do anything kind of country, behave you lot and enjoy your photography, it doesn't take much to take our freedom away as civilised humans.
Just remember, don't look for problems that are not there yet, people have there opinions but those opinions mean nothing unless the law is backing those opinions up.
If your not braking the law then enjoy your photography, simples.
27 Oct 2012 10:55AM
Photographs (and art) should bring some sort of emotional response from a viewer, good or bad. Providing you keep within the law then i see no issue. Of course there will always be the 'decency' arguement, but i think if an image can evoke such a response, you must be doing something right
paulbroad 10 123 1245 United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 11:03AM
Interesting stuff and shows how opinions differ. The lad in my shot would not be upset by my actions as he had no idea I had taken it. He was about 12 or 13 by the way, not a young child. I tend to agree that we should not break the law and I always attempt to be lawful, including when driving!

However, even the police seem to have difficulty interpreting the law as the regular pieces in Amateur Photographer illustrate. Innocent photographers being interviewed and arrested. Yes, we must protect children, and older people, and the disabled, and women, and, and, and...............

The real answer is to deal with those who actually commit the crimes in such a way that they, and others, dare not do it again. There's not much chance of that.

SlowSong Plus
9 7.4k 30 England
27 Oct 2012 11:17AM
I don't hide when I take candids. In fact, with a noisy 60D and mid zoom lens it'd be quite difficult to do so. But I don't intrude. I keep a reasonable distance and if I see that someone isn't too happy I'll not take the picture. But if I'm not likely to get castigated then I will take it, i.e. if the person can't get to me. Smile

I don't take many children pics because I'm not that interested in them (although I have a few in my p/f) but no-one has complained. I must look innocent and innocuous. I don't like taking pictures of street beggars or down-and-outs because I think that's quite intrusive as they get nothing back from me and it's been a bit overdone too.

Having said that, I was at a funeral last week and a woman with a small compact stood in the aisle of the church and in full view of everyone started taking pictures of the coffin. With flash too! That to my mind is a bit too much and served no purpose that I could see.
Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 11:54AM
Candid street shots are fine but non-candid shots can be even better in that you communicate with the subject. You could ask permission of the subject to use the photograph in both cases (parents or guardians in the case of children). Obviously you would have to ask after you had taken the photograph in the case of candid.

Focus_Man 8 481 631 United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 12:29PM
This PC bit has gone too far..........................If you want to add your name and you live in Brighton & Hove for heaven's sake do not sign it Mr Anybody, apaprently is becomes a problem to transvestites as they do not know what sex to apply. The council is to meet next week to discuss removing Mr & Mrs from all documents for that very reason.

Back to this issue, a candid is not a candid if the subjects are aware of the fact that you are taking a picture. As mentioned by a few here I feel the rule is 'take what you like, your conscience will tell you when to differentiate' ie the pics at a funeral! Your comment SlowSong was 'To my mind that is a bit too much' that is where you have differentiated and in my mind too, correctly so.
MikeRC Plus
13 3.6k United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 3:14PM
I was slated on another thread for taking an innocent picture of two fully clothed fit young female adults.
The lady who insulted me takes hundreds of pictures of fit young men riding bikes on public roads.
.....I am sure that she can justify her photography as being more moral than my single shot, but to my mind the only difference is that mine was a one off and unlikely to be repeated.
redsnappa 15 2.0k United Kingdom
27 Oct 2012 3:30PM

Quote:For candids, I either use a long lens or a bridge camera with all sound turned off. All candids are shot, by definition as l said earlier, by hiding yourself or camera.
The phrase peeping tom comes to mind. By hiding what you are doing it makes you look like you are up to no good especially if you are photographing children. How would you explain yourself if you were ever questioned by the police?

I'm also open and honest when I take my street shots, I use my canon 300D & 28-135mm zoom thus everyone can see my camera an see that I'm taking pictures.

Quote:a candid is not a candid if the subjects are aware of the fact that you are taking a picture

So very true, if the subject knows you are taking the picture, the resulting image is a portrait not a candid.
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
27 Oct 2012 4:05PM

The term candid means an image taken without the subjects knowledge. Several thought this was intrusive,


How can it be intrusive if the subject does not know the photograph has been taken? Somebody ain't thinking straight.

But if taking a photograph is intrusive, then it is certainly unethical. As amateur photographers enjoying our hobby, we have no right whatsoever to make anyone else feel uncomfortable or intruded against. End of.

Briwooly 12 452 5 England
27 Oct 2012 4:19PM

Quote:Quote: Unlikely to get caught with this camera as I've disabled shutter sounds so there is no indication at all when shot from the hip.
As I stated when you asked the question on your picture

I have not got a problem with candids the bit that worries me Paul by the very act that you hide the fact you are your taking the pictures you have made the decision that it intrusive. I think if someone took a picture of myself openly I would be fine but if I saw someone covertly taken shots of me I think I would be confronting them and asking why and if children were involved even more so

Eastlands 7 760 4 Northern Ireland
27 Oct 2012 4:26PM
Take the candid shot, if spotted acknowlegde the fact and speak to the person, delete the image if they are even slightly offended, offer to email them a copy of the photo and you will be surprised how easy it is to get a favourable outcome.

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