On Photographing People in Public

The vast majority of my street photography is people-based. I like taking streets photos of found objects as a spontaneous sort of still-life as well as some architectural-type stuff, but primarily, I’m interested in people.

This portion of my work comes in two forms.

There’s my street portraits, where I approach people and ask to take their picture:

And then there’s the candid stuff, where I take pictures of people who may or may not be aware that I’m shooting them:

Now in most places, it’s perfectly legal to take pictures of people in public. There are exceptions, and I recommend being aware of your local laws.

However, many street photographers get all high and mighty when folks on the street get pissed at them. Far too many photographers assume that their artistic visions and legal rights must be 100% respected by unwilling subjects.

Well, as my beloved Dad would say, that’s a crock of shit.

Let’s talk reality.

Street photography is an incredibly invasive art form, and that means from time to time, people are bound to get uncomfortable and they may react in a negative way.

They may yell at you.

They may call the cops.

They may punch you in the face.

I’m not saying these things are right, but when a person’s comfort zone is breached, you can’t be surprised if they get pissed.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I have the legal right to take pictures of people in the street.

But I have no illusions that anybody’s going to respect that out in the real world, or that anyone gives a rat’s ass about my desire to express myself.

One thought on “On Photographing People in Public

  1. Couldn’t agree more.
    I enjoy taking candid photographs of people, if ever I noticed someone taking a photo of me I would probably want to have chat with them and discuss out mutual interest, however I also understand that some people are probably not keen on the idea, I am yet to be approached by anyone but if I were then I’d be honest and respectful towards them, I may even get a few more shots of them, a sort of before and after. That has actually given me an idea.
    Cheers. MG.

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