As I left a shop yesterday a man put his camera to his eye and was going to take a photo of me. I turned away and put my hand to my face. If he had approached me and asked to take the shot I would have obliged. It wouldn’t have been candid but I would have agreed to walk back into the shop and come out again. He would still have got a good photo.
On Friday I watched Masters of Photography. Series 1 episode 1 which was shown on Sky Arts HD on 16th May. A few of the contests followed individuals around Rome, taking their photos. Several of the people told them to stop and leave them alone.
One of the better photos of the day was a candidate street shot. I attended a photography society last year and two of the best presentations were by candid street photographers.
My attitude has been that if I am aiming to take a photo where one individual is the main subject then I seek their consent first. The photos for my homelessness project were taken with consent and information about how I would use the photos.
When I attended Northern Pride it was apparent that seeking consent would not be possible during the march. I shot on the presumption of informed consent. I remained visible as a photographer and only used photos where people were engaged with the camera. If people looked uncomfortable or turned away I deleted their photo. At the event following the march I again gained verbal consent for portraits.
Whilst in York shooting for assignment one I took several photos of individuals or small groups where they were the subject of the photo. I included one of these in my final cut. This photo was taken when I was obviously in view as a photographer. However there was no engagement between the camera and subject.
I also took one photo where I was almost hidden from view. I got a great photo. It didn’t make the final cut, however that was because it didn’t fit in with the series. Would I have included it if it had have fit the theme?
I feel that I’m on an ethically sound footing with informed consent, and I am comfortable with implied consent. I’m less comfortable with being visible but without informed/implied consent. I feel very uncertain about candid street photography where I catch people by surprise or where I’m partially/fully concealed.
This is an area that we all have to be true to ourselves. What other photographers choose to do is their choice, and what I shoot is my responsibility. I certainly appreciate the art of candid street photography and have seen some incredible photos of this genre.
I can see that my ethics and boundaries are evolving as I watch more photography and read books and others blogs, and I will continue to evaluate my personal morals in this regard.