Street photography ethics.

Updated on September 8, 2017 in Photography
11 on June 6, 2017

What’s up guys! 

A while back I was shooting on the street and saw an interesting scene with a disabled person in a wheelchair. Out of respect I did not shoot it because I think these people have a hard enough life already. ( Life in a wheelchair in general, but also the stares and looks such a person has to handle within a day to day life) 
I am wondering what you would guys do in such a situation? And are there any situation/people you would not shoot? 

Regards, 

Steef

 
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0 on June 7, 2017

 

Hi Steef!

Interesting topic. Personally I agree with you, I wouldn’t have shot either. And there are situations or people in general I don’t like to take photos of, such as: kids, beggars or situations like the one you said!

Have a nice day,

Francesca

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1 on June 18, 2017

Hi Steef,

Fantastic question and one that I struggle with frequently.  I understand and agree with your decision to not take that shot.  However, I also believe that those kinds of photos and others like it can inspire people to think differently about those that are different than us.  Any time that a photo can help others to feel empathy, emotion or even inspire people to take action that makes a difference is a good thing.  I think that discretion is the key. Thanks for the thought provoking question.

Scott

 

on June 19, 2017

I think your right in saying that if it can provoke empathy emotion and action taking it is a good subject to shoot. But I feel that (for me at least) these kinds of shots are more for a project than some kind of random image. 
If you shoot this kind of scene discretion is definitely key! 
Thanks for the great answer! 

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1 on June 19, 2017

Howdy, 

I think this is a perfect scenario where I imagine Eric Kim saying to the person, “May I make your portrait?” Perhaps you can get their email and send them the imagine.  I wonder how many people want their photos taken, but don’t have the opportunity.  I was channeling my Eric Kim guru sense.

 

on June 19, 2017

A portrait for me is something else than a street photograph. Even though it still can be considered a street photo, it still is a forced image. I like the more candid shots!
But maybe this is a good way to approach these people. 
I like the way you channel you Eric Kim Guru sense!! Haha
Thanks for the reply!! 

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1 on September 5, 2017

It depends on the situations. I might have taken the shot and decide later. Beggars i do not do because nowadays it is a cliche everyone has done it. But children an people in wheelchairs could be a fantastic opportunity. But you have to feel comfortable with it. you make the images for yourself. 

Not exactly a wheelchair. But they had help. 

https://www.dailyobservations.eu/no-parking-hoorn/ 

 

 

on September 6, 2017

Dankjewel voor je reactie @guillaimegroen! Ik zag op je website dat je uit nederland komt! Leuk! Nog een nederlander op dit forum! Heb je ook toegevoegd op instagram! 🙂 

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0 on September 5, 2017

I sort of feel similarly, I often don’t photograph things like children and homeless because where I live it’s not considered “normal” nor is any kind of street photography really normal where I live. But that being said I don’t impose limits, I’ve taken photos of kids and had the parents give me a stern scowl and I’ve taken photos of kids and had the parents laugh along. I’ve taken photos of people that seem to be down on their luck and was thoroughly surprised when they thanked me for it. you never know how people are going to react. You just have to pray that your actions are capable of lessening the bridge between people. now this is just pure speculation but I think the fact that you feel something is “off” when you want to photograph certain situations is because a small part of you wants to express an emotion but the rational part of you realizes that it may be taken the wrong way. I feel as though if at any time you’re not 100% proud of your actions at the time of shooting then you’re probably not going to enjoy the photograph in 5 years time. At least that’s my experiences with photographing these kinds of things, not really sure if it applies to anyone else.

I guess to recap these ramblings is that you should follow your gut feeling, lots of people say that if you’re scared that’s when the best photographs are made, and I certainly agree with them, but it also may be your gut telling you that the scene in front of you isn’t capable of expressing your feelings, at least visually.

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0 on September 5, 2017

I won’t shoot photos that involve the disabled/homeless/kids.  Although kids can make great subjects for street photos (they often do funny/interesting things) I think that many parents are uncomfortable with people taking pictures of their kids and I’d just as soon not get myself into an awkward confrontation.  As someone else mentioned, homeless people are ‘easy pickings’ and I feel that taking photos of them is a bit exploitive.  In my experience, there are plenty of interesting things going on in the streets that don’t involve kids/the homeless so avoiding them doesn’t unduly restrict my photo opportunities.

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0 on September 8, 2017

personally, I’m not interested in seeing photos of people with disabilities or people who are homeless where the only point of the picture is to highlight the differences from “the rest of us.” As in, “look how sad this is.” There are enough of those already. Sometimes, it just feels just as disrespectful as if we were viewing people in a zoo. However, I don’t think good shots should be discarded simply because it features a vulnerable member of our society. I like seeing the dignity, the humour, the strength in people. I like seeing shots that highlight our similarity to each other. For example, if the point of the shot is the fact that the person is in a wheel chair, then I’m not engaged. If the point of the shot is the look of love on a mans face as he playfully hoists his little boy up in the air, and the man happens to be in a wheel chair, then I’m interested. 

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0 on September 8, 2017

> Out of respect I did not shoot it because I think these people have a hard enough life already. ( Life in a wheelchair in general, but also the stares and looks such a person has to handle within a day to day life) 

I think that people are very different. Someone in a wheelchair could be more positive than another one with good health (even in a case of much harder life). So, different people would react differently based on a fact that they are photographed. (E.g. healthy man might become angry because he has bad mood or something like that). But I prefer to avoid to photograph such people. I believe that if such a disabled person is photographed then a photography with him should have a message which much more valuable than just a fact of disability (e.g. a photography which is a part of a project which transmits strong sense of humanity).

> I am wondering what you would guys do in such a situation? 

I avoid such a situation because I’m not able to make from such situation a message which is better than the situation (at first glance).

> And are there any situation/people you would not shoot? 

I like what has been written by Eric in his many articles in his blog. I like to ask my self: would I like to be photographed in such situation? But… the problem is that me is not somebody else… In generally I don’t like to be photographed. And I’m not sure that healthy people who was photographed by me would be happy if they accidentally discover a photography with them on internet… But I still photograph them. In the same time I consciously avoid to photograph any situation/people with any hint about suffering/misery. The reason is that life is full of suffering and misery and it is very easy to meet this everyday (in one measure or another of severity). Much more harder is to make earth a better place to live. And I believe it is possible to make it better by means of good (humane) photography.

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