Street Photography

There has been a lot of talk about Street Photography in the past months. What’s the legal situation? Can we? No? Why? Where?150419 - Olympus OM2n - 21

In fact the situation changes from country to country. Not very helpful. Are you trespassing the law the you take a photo of a street scene in Paris? In Luxembourg?

Do you need to consult the local laws first when you want to travel? So not only you’ll be lugging around your tourist guide but also a nice volume of civil laws (can you get those on Kindle?).

In these days of global paranoia the life of the street photographer has become quite worrisome. Did you accidentally capture kids in your photo – you risk being called a paedohile. Did you make a photo of an official or architecturally noteworthy building? VERBOTEN without the written consent of the architect or owner here in Luxembourg. I just wonder where they built the jail for all those tourists flashing their cameras and phones at out beautiful city!130905 - Olympus XA2 - 003

It’s so sad that in times when people accept surveillance cameras at every corner (for our security), the feelings towards photographers are becoming so hard. Everyone has a smartphone, everyone is snapping like mad with that contraption and no one gives a damn. Well, most of that stuff is silly selfies…170422 - Olympus XA2 - Ilford HP5 (37)

But as soon as you show a real camera, even small ones, you are in ‘danger’. People mistrust you. People who post their whole darn lives on facebook don’t want to have their photo appear online. I don’t understand this world any more!160520 - Kodak Tri-X - Canon A-1 - 023

So what is the solution? Stop Street Photography? Do Landscape?

Of course I agree that everyone has the right to decline being photographed, at least if he’s to be the main subject of the image. And if a photo of me is being used for commercial means, if I should appear as a main subject in an advert for example, I’m entitled to some compensation. No problem with that.161201 - Ilford HP5+ - Ricoh GR1 - 026

But to get the notion in the head of the people that any time they are being caught in a frame they are entitled to some sort of monetary compensation is just crazy. In our world where everything in deemed free (stealing photos from the internet is a nice sport), people become more and more wary, but of the wrong stuff.

So what are the solutions? Are there any, or are we to juts give up and stop doing our silly game?170422 - Olympus XA2 - Ilford HP5 (22)

Will we have to become sneaky? Perhaps buy those old ‘shooting-around-the-corner’ lens hoods from the seventies? Remember those, like a big lens hood with a 45° mirror and a hole in the side.

Do we have to ask for permission for each shot, a written one if possible? Sometimes it’s just not possible to do that, A situation comes up and you react. No time for questions!141204 - Kodak Retina IIIc - 14

Or shall we keep the human factor out of our photography? I tried to show with the photos in this post that it is possible. There are people in some photos, none in most and anyways they are never the main subject.OriginalPhoto-474527225.641819 (1)

But is this Street Photography or just photography of streets?

Tell me! Give me your take on this please.

And thanks for visiting!IMG_0249

29 thoughts on “Street Photography

  1. We’re still living in the Middle Ages. It all comes from moral panics created by a popular press written by wage slaves and read by morons. As the printing press gave rise to Kramer and Sprenger, so the new technologies give rise to new fears, but similar means of oppression and repression.

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  2. Although I like the photos….to answer your question…. for me they are photos of streets..not street photography…..it’s just my take on things…but for me street photography is more “enclosed “photography .. ie single shop fronts…. signs… reflections of people in shop windows…in some respects it’s not really fair to call it street photography… it’s the “contents” of a street if that makes sense…BR Lynd

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  3. I’ve been uncomfortable shooting “street” since I was a teenager. My solution for the last 55 years has been to always include my wife in the frame. A close examination of any of my photos including easily identified people will always show her. She is often in the background or looking in from the edge of the frame, but she is always there.

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  4. Frank, I love Italy. Most of the Italians are proud to be captured by those little boxes. A little smile if there is any doubt and the world is in order as in past times of HCB and lots of other street photographers.

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  5. Frank… please don’t view my comments in a way that offends…. I mealy meant that my preference is taking “tight pics” ie less is more… giving the viewer a glimpse in time…. not a Google Street view…
    It’s a very personal thing when it looks like your invading their space…. I have this impression people feel more at home… a sort of…. kidding them that you cannot possibly be some nutter who is perving over them…. if that makes sense…. sadly in today’s world it’s becoming harder and harder to do just what we want to without being questioned ….mores the pity…. to give you an example.. each Christmas there is a German market in Birmingham… ideal material for us photographer’s… I did give it a thought of attending… but with all the added security…decided against it….as knowing my luck my extra large over the shoulder camera bag would quickly bring fear of me being a terrorist….

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    • No problem, I understand you completely. And of course the times we are living make the life of a street photographer difficult.

      Threats, real or fabricated, paranoia, extreme security and moronic reactions of people make this a hard time.

      Other countries might be easier but it’s very different from the times of HCB for example

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  6. It is definitely tough. I often want to head downtown where I live and try some street photography, but there is always that fear/uneasiness that I’m gonna offend someone or cause a scene.

    The thing I really like about “street photography,” if you will, is the opportunity it provides to capture everyday life and moments and present them in a more extraordinary fashion. Or even just the attention it draws to the tasks or undertakings we often do subconsciously.

    There is a lot of beauty out there, it’s a shame nowadays the paranoia that runs rampant.

    One trick I had tried while travelling in England was just to use autofocus and hanging from my neck. As I walked I would focus and “shoot from the hip” for lack of a better term. It was a good way to be non chalant, though I imagine it would be a bit more difficult with a manual camera. It was kinda fun later in the day seeing what turned out and what did not!

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    • Shooting from the hip is one good alternative but can be expensive with film as I can tell.

      I’m always balanced between fear and satisfaction when out in the streets. I find a small camera like the Olympus XA2 helps a lot as It doesn’t look ‘serious’.

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  7. Frank… I think that you may well of hit onto something with your idea of using small discreet cameras… that’s why I went and brought a NOS Ricoh Caplio gx100…. and after using both film and digital cameras like Nikons 300 and small primes…. I am hoping to get away with catching more moments of everyday life be it tagged in as “street photography ” or just “general photos ”

    As many have said it’s very different today than times past… just going slightly off topic…. what do think photographer’s from the past like HCB would do to get around such matters ???

    BR
    Lynd

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    • I guess that a well known and respected photographer would have no or less problems. At least explaining what they do. Others would have the same problems as us lowly snappers.

      Stealth and polite smiles are the secret I think.

      And that Ricoh seems a good choice!

      Like

  8. Funnily enough my knees (52yrs young) are playing up…I may just copy his idea… at least it will stop the “stop and search” that I seem to attract on a regular basis..😅😅😅

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  9. Yes, it is a strange world full of paranoia – especially but not only in some European countries.

    That said, I think that you have to take a stand. Street Photography is not Street Photography if people are missing. If you are leaving people out, you should, perhaps, start investigating and furthering the work of the Düsseldorfer Photoschule.

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  10. Street Photography is one of the most adventurous experience
    It’s not about clicking smile all the time.
    Every Street has a story, If you’re able to capture it’s soul, It can make your Day

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  11. Thanks for this post…always lots of debate on how far to go as a street photographer. These days it is more difficult than ever but it’s the form of photography I love most. Nothing stops me in my tracks more than a great candid shot on the street.

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