How do you feel about having your picture taken?
Awkward acquiescence? Battling bemusement? Recurring shyness?
Does it depend on circumstances such as who wants to take the photo, where you are and what you are doing?
How do you feel having your picture taken without your consent in a public space? If you are walking along the footpath and someone pulls out a camera and just snaps a frame, do you care?
There are photojournalists who do just that, my friend was snapped shopping by a photojournalist for REAL street style on the streets of Australia without her consent, however it was a compliment on her style and he suggested she share with credit to his photography, she found the photograph on his official Instagram account “StreetStyleAustralia” through a friend who had seen it (basically through the grapevine). I think it’s awesome! But only if the photo is awesome, there is controversy towards just that, whether they like the photo or not.
Generally speaking, there is no common law right in Australia that can be implemented to prevent photography or filming of someone in a public place without his or her consent. There are various laws aimed at indecency, offensive behaviour, filming for sexual gratification, defamation and commercial use. Yet, for the most part, taking a picture of someone without consent in a public place is more of an ethical and moral issue than a legal one.
Legal compliance and ethical anxiety make uncomfortable bedfellows. When law and ethics get into bed, law too often takes all the blankets.
For a current photography assignment, I am photographing two women and had to ask for their consent, interestingly enough one was uncomfortable with the concept at which I was explaining I wanted to take portraits, while the other was enthusiastic towards the project, I respect both their decision.
Famous street photographer Bruce Gilden is best know for is candid close ups of people on the streets of New York City.
What I love about Gilden, aside from his vision and remarkable consistency, is he is a pure, unadulterated no nonsense, straight talker. In today’s “be careful not to offend” entrenched view, he does what so many photographers either aren’t equipped to, or are afraid to do – he calls it as it is.