The ethics of candid photography.
This is subject that divides opinion, “You will get into trouble one day“ my wife keeps telling me.
I must have taken hundreds of pictures of people in public places and only once been asked why I had taken a picture, in this case two girls at a fun fair.
Not asking normally gives me a more natural and relaxed picture. I am by nature a shy person which is another reason why I don’t often ask. Now and again I do ask.
A friend at work says “You are invading people’s privacy.”
For many years I took photos of people at work, at the time some people were not so pleased, “Put that bloody camera away”, now thirty years on when I get out the photos we never tire of looking at them, it brings back memories of fun times in our younger days.
My thoughts on privacy are these. When I take someones picture and they know nothing of it what happens?
The chances are the picture goes on to my computer and probably never goes any further. Maybe one in one hundred does go on the internet or in to a book.
Consider that Flickr, one of the largest photo sharing web sites has 51 million members and 6 billion images stored on it (probably more by now), and there are many more such sites. The chances of someone or someone who knows them seeing their picture on one of these sites must be almost nil.
So…I have taken someones picture, they do not know I have done it and they never see it neither does anyone who knows them and there is no name attached to it. Have I really invaded their privacy, have they suffered anything?
People are part of the make up of this world, we are so different to look at, in looks, age and the way time has changed us, the clothes we wear, colour, expression and in many other small ways. Then there are the many different things we do that add to the interest, you can see why pictures of people are so interesting.
We can look at a picture and try to imagine what they might be called, do for a living or what sort of person they are.
In an odd way I think that many people would quite like to think that their face may stay on the internet for ever or that I thought that there was something about them that made me take their picture out of all the other people around.
Without these pictures we would not know what many historical people looked like or how they behaved.
Anyway, what ever the arguments may be I like to carry on doing it.
There are, of course, legal prohibitions in some countries, in the UK so long as they are in a public place and you are not harassing them, you can take their picture. You may get punched or abused but that is a chance you take.