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Transcript of Street Photography
(Part 1) "Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." Walker Evans Street photography is a tradition nearly as old as photography itself.
As soon as cameras and processing techniques became portable and practical enough to leave the confines of the studio (around the 1870's) photographers began documenting the world around them. Street photography has been around for nearly 100 years and it remains a genre that touches upon all aspects of our lives: ethics, humour, tragedy, creativity, fashion, architecture, technology. The genre first appeared as a result of technological advances.
Small, portable 35mm cameras with rapid exposure times enabled photographers to escape the cumbersome restrictions of tripods and studios and explore the streets. Street photos capture people and places at their rawest. Studio photos may be better lit, and staged shots may have more beautiful people in them, but nothing is as alive as street photography. The style has been made famous by some of the best known photographers of our time including:
Garry Winogrand and
Martin Parr "There is something exciting about being in the crowd, in all that chance and change - it's tough out there - but if you can keep paying attention something will reveal itself - just a split second - and then there's a crazy cockeyed picture!"
Joel Meyerowitz Street photography captures people and places within the public domain. Un-posed, un-staged photography which captures, explores or questions contemporary society and the relationships between individuals and their surroundings. Street photography does not need to include people although it usually does. Street photography is perhaps more easily defined as a method than a genre. Another key aspect of street photography is the sense that the captured scene is unplanned. The public domain is any public space including streets, beaches, parks, museums and galleries, country lanes, countryside, roofs of buildings… the list goes on. When is a photograph not a street photograph? Street photography can often cross over into other genres such as urban landscape, portraiture and photojournalism. Street photography is the spontaneous and art-motivated photography in public places. It's influenced by issues which can be found since the beginning of photography. Characteristics of Street Photography Unstaged
Mixed Subjects Surreality André Kertész - Meudon - 1928 The Decisive Moment and Geometric Composition Henri Cartier-Bresson - Italy - 1951 Symbolism and Iconography Robert Frank - New York - 1955 The raw, near-nowness and essence of life Garry Winogrand - Los Angeles - 1969 Colour Composition Stephen Shore - Pennsylvania - 1974 The History of Street Photography
(Part 2) Weegee Lee Friedlander Bruce Davidson Tod Papageorge Bill Burke Mark Cohen Benedict J Fernandez Artist Case Studies:
The Ethics of Street Photography Ethics of Street Photography •Ethics is dependent on method of taking photo and use of photo thereafter
•Issues rise when people don’t consent to the photo
“Although in many parts of the world, it is legal to photograph someone in these circumstances, it clearly causes some people distress” •Kantian ethics: immoral, treat people as an ends, not a means to an ends •Consequentialist: cost/benefit, benefit for the photographer outweighs any harm done to subject Boris Mikhailov Born in 1938, Kharkov, Ukraine
Photographed people on fringes of Ukrainian society, in revealing social issue not really outside of bounds of traditional photojournalism “He has done something seriously immoral to make a moral point, and that is not acceptable.” “What remarkable, unforgettable, awful images they are. Their impact is not dulled over hundreds of examples. Part of me wished I had never looked at them.” Scot Sothern Photographed prostitutes in the 1980s in California.
Romantic and sleazy, not a stereotypical look at prostitution photography; nothing erotic about it.
Photographs them as they are – scarred and fleshy and rundown by hard living. “I hope the book makes the viewer pause and think about the implications of the work; the fucked-up-ness people are living through on curbs and gutters not all that far from where we live.” “Every whore I ever photographed was a very human person and every one of them understood hurt and I hope that the photographs convey that hurt to everyone who sees them.” Kantian Ethics Can use people as a means of achieving our goals, but cannot use them as a mere means to an end.
Must respect that they, too, are human beings and if we must use them, do so respectfully. Consequentialist Ethics Consqeuentialism: whether an act is morally right depends only on the actual consequences (as opposed to foreseen, foreseeable, intended, or likely consequences).
Equal Consideration The Ethics of Candid Street Photography -“If it's there to be seen, it's there to be photographed.”
-This is an easy rationale for candid street photography any concerns. But is it ethical? Historical Basis -In the early days of photography, cameras were bulky to carry and took a long time to work. It was impossible for a photographer to take a truly candid shot.
-When cameras become hand-held and lenses and film got faster in the 1880s, candid photography took off for both amateur and professional photographers. -Street photography has historically followed a documentary style, showing the subject “as is.”
-The expectation that street photography is candid has added credibility to images.
-It evokes a kind of social commentary, capturing the real life of a place, can be for historical posterity. -If people know you are photographing them, the moment may be lost.
-In the past, a photographer needed editors to decide to publish their photo to make it public. Today with the internet, anyone can post their photo without being approved by an outside body. Importance of Candid Street photography Common Ethical Considerations 1. Does this photo respect the dignity of the subject?
2. How are you using the photo?
3.Is there a message?
4.Should the subject have an expectation of privacy?
5.Do you feel uncomfortable about it? If so, there may be a reason. -You have the right to express yourself through photography and freedom to publish the photo
-No one can threaten you or forcibly take your camera and delete your photos
-You cannot take pictures of a person where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy
-You cannot misrepresent yourself in order to take a picture
-You cannot follow or stalk a subject, or badger them or their family and friends
-You have the copyright to any photograph you take. It is not against copyright law to photography any building or piece of public art Canadian Law Public Perception -Cases of private security guards, public police officers, and corporate security groups demanding photographers to turn over their film or memory cards. In some cases, photographers were detained for hours without legal cause. A few reported having their cameras taken from them. Google Earth -Goes along with sentiment that people should not expect privacy in a public space.
-Google and some others have allowed individual "vetoes", so that anyone who does not want to appear online can have the image taken down. People can also report objectionable images. Apps -Sneaky Cam: app that allows you to take pictures without subjects knowing.
-You can trick the people around you by making them believe you are playing a game or surfing the web or texting etc. Creepshots -Creepshots: People photograph unsuspecting women in public spaces and post pictures online. Protected under Canadian law.
-Rationale: Where is the harm in photographing women? If they don't know about it, no one is hurt. If it's there to be seen, it's there to be photographed. Telephoto Lenses
-Photographers split on Telephoto: Some insist anything over a 50mm lens is cheating or voyeurism. Others see a telephoto lens (70mm to 300mm) as a necessity in a world where people are wary of being photographed.
-Particularly useful for candids, as the photographer remains anonymous and unnoticed by their subjects. No risk of confrontation. Helen Levitt Mary Ellen Mark Bruce Gilden Nick Turpin Markus Hartel Nils Jorgensen Thomas Leuthard Vivian Maier Robert Frank Michael Sweet Tony Fouhse Charlie Kirk http://vimeo.com/29361738 Celebrities -Humiliating, unflattering and revealing photos are taken of celebrities all the time. -Do they have less right to privacy or ethical considerations, as they are public people? Amanda Stephen Elizabeth Kiy Oyeyinka Oyelowo Natalie Berchem http://nickturpin.com/contacts/info/ The Photographic Essay Modern Themes Discussion Questions 1. Is it fair to photograph someone you don’t know, without their consent (the 'Invisible Approach'?) 2. Use of flash in street photography is highly controversial. Should it be used, or shouldn't it? 1) Based on the two schools of ethics, Kantian and Consequentialist, are the works of Mikhailov and Sothern ethical?
2) How do their actions – paying the subjects, asking them to strip and pose, and/or playing the role of the john – change how ethical the photographers are?
3) If you were in the position of these photographers, how would you behave differently to make the shoot more ethical? 1. People are increasingly worried about lawsuits and political correctness. Are ethical considerations killing truly candid street photography? 2. Is self regulation enough? Could there ever be some kind of standardized ethical code? 3. What would you do if someone objected to your taking their picture? 4. Are the ethics for photographing celebrities different from those for private citizens?