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pff privacy

Okay here's the thing. I see my camera as an extension of myself. My eyes plus a pause button maybe. I figure I can look at whatever I like, right? Is looking at something intrusive? Possibly. Is it an invasion of privacy to look at a stranger? I don't think my rights are being violated when someone looks at me, even if they're creepy or weird. Legally, looking is still well within my rights.

I take photographs of a lot of things I see, and many of the things I see are people. They're everywhere, and frequently in the midst of being interesting. I tend to photograph interesting things, and sometimes that involves random people.

Once, a few years back, a woman harrassed and scolded me for taking photographs of her, which was, as she put it, a violation of her privacy. I was stunned. I had never noticed, much less photographed this woman, but I couldn't honestly recall. I really had no response to her accusations. She was passionately, furiously adamant about her right to privacy and made me out to be some sort of horrible fascist-slash-pervert and I just stood there staring, just baffled and annoyed and incensed.

The concept of privacy is such a fallacy! If you're outside, in public, waiting at a bus stop with everyone else how is there any possibility of privacy? In public, when you are outside, people see you. High concept here. Buses, stores, stoplights and celphones are all equipped to capture "your" likeness. (It really isn't yours.) Satellite and aerial photography of much of the planet's surface are now widely available online - omg what if you were outside while those images were being made? Google maps owns. Anyway...

I will keep taking photographs.

[this was sparked by something I read on boingboing and subsequent links, and more subsequent links.]

Comments

( 8 uh-ohs — Make a mess )
uhlume
Jul. 31st, 2005 08:53 am (UTC)
http://newurbanist.blogspot.com/2005/01/copyrighting-of-public-space.html
Disturbing trend. Not to mention utterly absurd.

OTOH, I think it's a bit sloppy to conflate the issues surrounding either of these two cases with issues of personal privacy. (And honestly, most professional photographers I know ask the permission of their subjects simply as a matter of courtesy, even if only after the fact.)
caffeina
Jul. 31st, 2005 08:56 am (UTC)
I see your point, from a legal perspective, but I am an artist and therefore I AM ABOVE THE LAW!
st_rev
Jul. 31st, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
It's a well-known fact that the Male Gaze is one of the primary weapons of the Patriarchy, but that doesn't seem to apply here. Well, men helped build the camera, maybe that was the problem. Or maybe she had heard about how cameras can steal your soul.
rizzo41
Jul. 31st, 2005 12:56 pm (UTC)
You are much bolder than me. I often see people being interesting, but am too shy to snap the pictures. There's one lady in particular who looked like a modern version of all those old OLD paintings of The Madonna that I was dying to take her picture. I would always curse myself for not having a spy camera handy. Ahh well.
ex_maxmin919
Jul. 31st, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, even though I'm a photographer I don't completely agree. Just because all that other stuff happens has no bearing on the morality of the issue, and I do feel it's a bit fuzzy when it comes to taking peoples pictures without their specific permission. I don't think it should be illegal, but I would certainly never take/keep/display a picture of someone if they indicated in any way they didn't want me to, as if nothing else I feel it's rude.
isara
Jul. 31st, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC)
I agree with that take on it.

I personally don't like having random snapshots taken of myself because because of the dangers of teh interwebs and such shots being passed around for public mockery. Not only that, my personal presence and space is all of a context, and photography takes moments out of that context. While I think that photography can be useful for that very reason, I prefer to believe that it's my choice to determine if I should allow an infinitessimal amount of time to illustrate a much larger period, in relation to myself.
djdigit
Jul. 31st, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
I figure the moment you step outside, you're fair game. I can understand not wanting hour picture taken without your permission, but it shouldn't be legally enforceable.
foundsound
Jul. 31st, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC)
Y'know, they're just trying to keep you photographers from snapping pix of building layouts/construction and influential members of the society and then selling them to TEH TERR0RISTS.

Usually, I'd agree with most photographers in that getting expressed consent is the way to go; however, whenever I think about your photowork I usually think of The Kommute. If you had tried to gain everyones' permission to snap a pic beforehand, the moments you were trying to capture in the first place would have been ruined and out of context; one could argue that you could have searched out said permission after taking the pic, but that'd be nearly impossible (imagine asking the SamTrans driver to stop the bus and momentarily let you off to ask that granny across the way if posting the pic you took of her dropping her groceries was acceptable, then getting back on the bus and continuing onward). The Kommute was awesome because it was spontaneous and showed life as it occurred, not as accepted. I miss it a lot.
( 8 uh-ohs — Make a mess )