Monday, 16 March 2009

Social comments in the town.

If you live in a city and you take a photograph of a cityscape, how can you avoid taking photos of people in your picture? Well you could get up very early or you could take up night photography, but what are the legal implications of taking photos of people? As a photographer you want to record what is going on around you, and people are part of that. You may wish to take a picture of a building, but you may also want people in the photo to give it a sense of scale. How do you take a picture in the centre of Keswick without getting people in the photo? In this photo I wanted to get a sense of business as usual in town but a storm was on its way. The heavy clouds are a big part of this photo. Going one step further you may want people in the photo to give it some kind of social comment. (There was nothing incriminating in my photo but I have withdrawn it following news reports on 19th March. I have written a blog about these reports and you can read it if you look at Tuesday 24th March 'invasion of privacy').

As an artist this may be an important concern. On the other hand, as a private citizen, you may not wish your photograph to be taken. The general rule in the UK is that you have no choice. Your picture may and will be taken. Walk down the High Street and you will be filmed many times and you have no power over what happens to the photograph. We already live in George Orwell's 1984 as world surveillance is all around us (and wars are fought for reasons we don't quite understand). We are observed many times each day, so don't stop the humble photographer from adding their comment.

There is always an exception to every rule, and as a photographer don't be too intrusive. Even if you are allowed to take photos of people in a street, they still have their dignity. How would you feel if a less than flattering photo was taken of you and then shown to the whole town!

Happy snapping

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