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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Ordinary Photographers Rights...Apologies for crashing into the forums as a newcomer with a somewhat contentious issue but there seemed to be some ...
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Old 25-08-2006, 17:46   #1 (permalink)
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Ordinary Photographers Rights

Apologies for crashing into the forums as a newcomer with a somewhat contentious issue but there seemed to be some interest in this subject arising from my introductory post.

I'll repeat my brief initial comment here for convenience:

"I find myself greatly disturbed by the apparent political moves to restict our freedom to photograph life on the streets and in the raw for posterity. As a man, I now find that I dare not photograph scenes with children in or other sensitiive subjects due to media hysteria. I feel the time is now right for a Ramblers Association style re-assertion of our rights and freedoms."

Further, I find that all the inspirational images of importance that I have seem over the years have typcially arisen from photographers being where the powers that be would rather they weren't. The inspirational images of beauty that appeal to me are often candid and depict ordinary people where the skilled eye has seen the joy, sadness or interest of day to day activities.

I don't for a moment bracket myself within a million miles of such talented artists but my compacency is helpiing to deny such images for future generations.

We have, undoubtedly, more media coverage than ever before in history of major events but in a stealthy way, the portrayal of daily life is being legislated out of existence.

I conscious of the sensitivites involved here, I am a parent but how the portrayal of a childs joy captured on a swing, on the slide, climbing a tree equates to some form of aberrant behavour escapes me.

The insidious thing is that one now is thinking twice before capturing images of adults who may object "because they can" and believe that street photography is bad because the tabloid media portrays it that way.

All the best,
Pete
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Old 25-08-2006, 18:04   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Ordinary Photographers Rights

This is a really interesting topic Pete and, I must confess, as someone who has only recently come back to "serious" photography after a previous heart-hearted attempt 18 years ago, it is not something I have given a lot of thought to.

However, I have a cyber-acquaintance who is a semi-professional and he touched on this subject in a recent blog of his. It's quite a long piece so I won't transpose it here but here is a link if you'd like to go read it.

I think the interesting point he makes is in the penultimate paragraph with rights come responsibility. Just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should and I think that sums it up in a nutshell. Judge each situation on it's own merits and decide yourself what is appropriate and what isn't.
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Old 25-08-2006, 19:53   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Ordinary Photographers Rights

Another link here: UK Photographers Rights
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Old 27-08-2006, 08:37   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Ordinary Photographers Rights

I have seen both sides of this argument…

It is a sad fact that the perception of a photographer who is actually doing no harm has been tainted by the media in general, especially where children are concerned. This is further complicated to a lesser extent by the increased awareness of terrorist attacks and more restrictions being placed on photographers when in proximity to important buildings and landmarks, it has now got to the stage where private security firms will prevent you from taking pictures of office buildings and shopping precincts.

Angela has a good view of this, in as much as using your common sense when it feels wrong to photograph a child its probably a good idea not too, however just because the photographer who is aware of the situation may make allowances, this unfortunately doesn’t mean that someone else who is not a photographer understands and will be reasonable as well.

Then you have the black and white of what is and is not allowed as separated by the law. In a public place, as a photographer you are legally allowed to photograph people who happen to be there as long as it is not for publication (without model release forms). Legally this is ok but morally it could be frowned upon. Public parks and swimming pools could give some great photography results but equally for a photographer who is of an unsavoury type, they could also capture images bordering on perverted if they tried hard enough, and that to me is the problem. It’s the few that ruin it for the genuine. I believe people should be protected but the media has built this into such a big deal and blown it out of all proportion that it is now overflowing and affecting the genuine photographer’s ability to capture innocent shots.

The question is where is it heading and what will be the effect on us as photographers?
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Old 27-08-2006, 09:05   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Ordinary Photographers Rights

rsphoto was telling me about someone in his area who is on the sex offenders register for photographing his own son in a swimming pool.

We where offered the chance to do a shoot for a playgroup fundraising event. We ended up not doing it and one of the reasons I didn't want to do it was I have no desire to put myself in that position.
They had the neccesarry legal forms saying we where there to photograph the blighters but even then I still wasn't really comfortable with it.

Luckilly this doesn't actually come up much in my photography as I can't stand photographing people


Not quite on topic but a while ago I saw a TV program which was discussing the negative aspects of this mania. They did an experiment with an obviously upset child on the street. Basicly women would ask her if she was ok, the vast majority of men would keep walking. The upshot being that kids could get seriously hurt because of the social attitudes whereby men are afraid to approach kids - even ones obviously in distress.
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Old 27-08-2006, 09:41   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Ordinary Photographers Rights

On a similar theme, there's an interesting piece in the Sunday Times magazine today. A photographer took away sweets that had been given to young children and then photographed their reactions. I have to say that there are some stunning photographs but the article rightly asks "is it art or abuse?".
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Old 27-08-2006, 11:49   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Ordinary Photographers Rights

Being an over protective parent of a 4 year old, I would have to say "Abuse" .

Adults are expected to care for children, so anything that is done to purposely upset them is abuse in my eyes
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Old 27-08-2006, 12:10   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Ordinary Photographers Rights

Slightly off topic, but the Jill Greenburgh debate has been running for some tome on a blog I read, if you want the link I'll post it; but to me it's abuse and she's profiteering from it.
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