I’m not the right person to talk about this topic but I think I can give you some insight about my point of view regarding rights. When I do a candid portrait I get very close to a person and shoot him directly in his face. No asking, no talking, no eye contact. This is how I do it. I guess this is not the big problem. The big problem comes when I publish this photo on the Internet. There I violate some rights or laws. I’m fully aware of that and I can live with this. I know that we should respect the rights of the people on the street but there would be no Street Photography if we all followed the laws of our countries. Respect is more about who you shoot and how you shoot a person. I think it is more respectful when someone sees that you shoot them (straight to the face) rather than using a long tele and shooting them from across the street. Sometimes you may even ask a person if you can take a photo if you are unsure; it will be different but you can still get a good photo. In the end it is your personal decision on how and who you shoot. You will always get different answers to the questions about right and wrong. You will always get critics about your candid shots where people are visible. This is Street Photography and you have to live with it. Once more, you have to stay on the path you have been following so far. You can either ask everyone or not ask everyone. I have my way of working and my sense of respect and dignity while others have their own. Don’t judge someone by the way they are working. Look at the photo only. If you like it, it’s fine. If you don’t like it, it’s also fine. There should not be judgment on rights and laws. It will not make a photo better or worse. We document life in public and normally don’t ask. That’s what it is about..
People all are the same in front of my camera. Life happens in the streets and there should be no difference who is in front of your lens. Whether it’s a child, an old man, a hot girl or a beggar; they should all be equal when it comes to Street Photography. There are people saying that they don’t shoot kids. There are people saying that they don’t shoot beggars. Some people care about such shots, others don’t. It’s the responsibility of the photographer to decide if he wants to take such a shot or not. . It should not be society or any common sense. If you as a photographer think it is worthwhile to point your camera towards someone, you should do it. Do it with respect and dignity, in a way that fits the purpose and maybe even ask for permission. You shoot for yourself and not for your audience. You shoot for the sake of documentation of life in public. Don’t forget that. I know that not everyone wants to look at the sadness of life. I’m interested in life as a whole and I also want to document it as a whole. Therefore I shoot everyone from kids to beggars, from rich to poor, from young to old, from good to bad. There in the street I want to get a complete documenting of life in public. Sure this is not always possible. The things which are different, unique, touching, make me think or might be interesting to others as well. This is what should drive you. It should be the hunger to document the variety of life, no matter who is in the frame.
There is always a huge discussion going on about my candid portraits. I know that it might be difficult from a law perspective; I know that there is a right on personality. But on the other hand I don’t want to make posed photos. That’s not street photography anymore. The same opinion I have regarding asking afterwards. For me this is too much effort and will not lead to success.
I couldn’t really find an article yet, which shows, what will happen, if someone finds his photo on my web . We do this for the sake of art and not to disrespect somebody. Often people are just actors on a street photo and it could be anyone acting like it. People would be interchangeable, but not replaceable. There must be humans in the photo, so I have to shoot them. Without them, it would be boring.
If you want to be on the safe side, you have to stop shooting or at least stop publishing photos of strangers on the Internet. But this is something I would never do. It is your personal choice if you want to live with the fact that you do something which might be against the law. Or you find a way that makes it compliant with the law.
You cannot really do good and effective street photography by following the law by 100%. You either go candid and forget the law or you follow the law and lose the spirit of street photography. This is my personal opinion. Everyone has to figure this out for himself and do what he is comfortable with. I don’t suggest doing this; I just tell you how I do it. It must be right for you.
If you still don’t go out to shoot in the streets, you are a wimp. Stop using the law as a reason why you don’t go out to the streets to make interesting photos. Anyone can do it and there is nothing illegal about it, when you do it the right way.
I cannot think about a life without street photography. I hope this will still be possible for many years without problems, laws or other restrictions. Let us work together to fight for our rights as street photographers to document ordinary life in public. Together we are stronger and together our voices are heard. Let’s stand up to ensure that we can still do what we do today in many years from now.
Ethics in street photography is a difficult thing. For some people it’s already a problem to shoot any stranger in the streets, no matter how far away he is. For me there is no limitation and ethics is a very personal thing. Maybe I have no ethics at all, as I don’t really care about what the photographed person is thinking. I see someone in the streets, decide if I will take his portrait and shoot. I don’t think about anything else in that moment. There is always a big debate about ethics when taking candid street portraits like I do. I can’t give any advice other than trying it out and figure out, how far anyone can go and if he feels fine doing it. There is no general rule or codex in street photography. What is right for someone might be wrong for others. Sure it is rude to shoot someone straight into the face, but I still do it. Maybe I’m just a disrespectful person without any ethical behavior. I can’t disclaim it, it’s the truth…
There is always a big debate going on about what is right and wrong in street photography. From a law perspective it is not right to publish a photograph of a person without the permission to do so. Even shooting close portraits in the streets is not allowed in certain countries. It’s your responsibility and your personal decision, if you want to follow the rights in your country, if there are some. For me my interest in the human being is much stronger than my fear of violating any law. Therefore I have decided a long time ago to publish all my street photos on the Internet without having a model release contract in place. This is a very personal decision and can cause some legal issues with some expensive consequences. But since there are no comparing lawsuits available, I have no idea, what the consequences are. I keep shooting and publishing until something is happening…
In the end, remember that I am not a lawyer, I’m a photographer. Every place is different and every specific situation is different.