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Author Topic: Better To Ask Forgiveness Than Permission?  (Read 7002 times)
Andy M
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« on: April 01, 2006, 03:42:35 PM »
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This being my first post on this forum, I should begin by stating how much I enjoy reading LL, and how much I have enjoyed watching my first Video Journal - VJ14.

To come to my reason for posting; one bit of the VJ I was a little uncomfortable with was Michael's shot of the shoemaker in the 'Street Shooting' section of the DVD.

The shot itself is - as you'd expect - excellent, but my uncertainty associated with it comes in the way the shot was taken. Michael describes how he took the shot and was then waved away by the shoemaker. As I wasn't there it may be unfair of me to comment, but ethically I'm not sure I'd be happy with keeping a shot of somebody who obviously did not want his/her photo taken.

Pardon me for paraphrasing; "He who hesitates is lost...don't hesitate, take the shot".

Ethically, where do fellow photographers stand on this?

Personally speaking, if somebody is not happy with me taking their photo I don't. There are times when I prefer somebody to not take a shot of me, and so I try to extend this on the flip side of the coin.

Michael is obviously a very talented photographer, so is there any need to keep a photo of a person who preferred not to be photographed?

Side-note: no offense is intended, and if I've got the wrong end of the stick apologies in advance
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michael
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2006, 04:39:47 PM »
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It's a valid question, but comes down to a matter of personal opinion.

I didn't know at the time I took the photograph that he didn't want it taken. If I had, I wouldn't have. Knowing after the fact that he didn't, still isn't the complete story. If I'd spoken with him, and explained what I was doing and why, he might not have objected. Maybe he would have. We'll never know.

In any event, in most countries of the world taking photographs of people in public is both legal and ethical. A few places, (France for example) now have rules against it.

I've wrriten extensively on the subject, but there's never a simple right or wrong answer.

Michael
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pobrien3
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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2006, 09:29:26 PM »
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I've found in China that the older generation (as a generalisation) are not keen on having their photo taken unless you ask them first.  When I ask, I've never been refused, and they like to see the pic on the wee screen afterwards.  So they're only semi-candid I suppose.
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med007
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2006, 01:34:37 AM »
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Quote
I've found in China that the older generation (as a generalisation) are not keen on having their photo taken unless you ask them first.  When I ask, I've never been refused, and they like to see the pic on the wee screen afterwards.  So they're only semi-candid I suppose.
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Some cultures have beleifs that photography can insult or take something away from the soul or dignity.

Michael's POV is mine too, I believe. My camera is there, I take the pictures either because I've been hunting for that shot, waiting for a component to arrive or based on everything I have trained myself to feel is interesting, my camera is reflexly at my eye, I've framed, checked focus and the shot is done before a lot of thinking goes on.

If, on reflection before or after a shot I consider the shot is demeaning to the person and that person is identified, either I won't take the shot, I'll destroy it, keep it for some compositional sake or retake the shot so that it is still truthful, powerful but respectful.

Photography is one of the few personal intimicies one can perform ffrom a distance and walk on without the other persons knowledge. If however, there is true outrage, damage, shame and hurt, I'd have a conscience problem and have pause before publishing even a great shot.

So with this shoemaker, i'd have said to myself, "That was unfortunate, but no big deal!" and keep walking. If he collapsed, I'd reconsider

Asher
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2006, 12:47:18 PM »
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I agree with everything I've read here.

If it's a good opportunity, "Shoot first, ask questions later", is my normal attitude.

If at all possible, I use stealth.  If that's successful, I can often get off several frames.

Meeting resistance, I'll always back off.  I apologize and, recently, I've deleted.

If I sense resistance beforehand (say if it's a female subject), I'll ask first and I'm rarely refused.

If I know that they know I've made a shot, I'll always thank them.  A smile always works wonders.

In Old Delhi, I once photographed a sikh vegetable dealer who appeared irritated at my photgraphic interest in his beautiful display.  I was driving away customers, he seemed to say.  Fair enough.  Five years later, I handed him an 8X10 colour print from the previous shoot and all was forgiven.

Peter
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pobrien3
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2006, 07:54:40 PM »
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I live in Asia and travel extensively, and when photographing people in almost any country I usually just hold up and point to the camera with a questioning expression on my face, and they usually either don't respond or indicate OK, then get back to what they're doing - sometimes younger folk will pose, and I always try to show them the picture. A smile and demonstration of respect goes a long way.

On occasion I too have given prints on a return visit - always goes down well in Asia!
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med007
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2006, 02:55:55 PM »
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Pobrian,

Great technic, the smile and the response!

Still, to get the natural moment, often I shoot first. If we're at communication distance I show and offer to sned a print!

asher
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