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Old 22nd January 2018
RobEW RobEW is offline
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Ethics of candid photos of people

I took scores of informal photos of a LGBT+ Pride event in Nottingham last year. Loads of folk wanted to pose for me (a camera which looks a bit bigger than a phone helps here), and crowd scenes in which individuals aren't easily identifiable are relatively uncontroversial. Some of my photos of crowd scenes were a bit zoomed in so that individuals (e.g. members of a sort of marching band) could be identifiable, but there was I think a general atmosphere of consent to photography even if I couldn't ask everyone individually. (I shared my pics with the event organisers' FaceBook page and had plenty of LIKEs and no grumbles).

In other contexts, some people get very upset and even angry if kids are in a candid photo (even if it's perfectly legal, taken from a public place, and even if they're not particularly large in the frame or identifiable). And sometimes security guards accost you and try to intimadte you from taking perfectly legal photos of buildings, pointing out that criminals do this when "casing a joint".

Papparazzi type photography capturing and publicising unflattering images of celebs feels a bit unethical.

In some contexts (mainly when used for commerical purposes) model release forms are apppropriate.

It sometimes feels like a bit of a minefield, even if one has positive intent. Are there any published guidelines for the UK?
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Old 22nd January 2018
RobEW RobEW is offline
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Anorher example focussing on ethical rather than legal issues. Once in a suburb of Brussels I happened across a football match played on crutches between a national side of miltary amputees versus able bodied volunteers from the crowd using crutches. The athleticism of the experienced crutch users was astounding, and - after consulting the coach to see if respectful photography would be okay - I captured and shared some images. (Not great ones for a forum of accomplished photgraphers, but nice enough for FaceBook friends). I also asked a UK friend who is something of a disability activist whether it would be appropriate to share, and she thought so, given the context. A lot depends on intent and respect.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/148582...etaken-public/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/148582...etaken-public/


Of course in international contexts the legal situation is varied as well ...
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Old 22nd January 2018
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

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Are there any published guidelines for the UK?

Plenty of info online, just try a search. This is one of many:
.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photography_and_the_law
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Old 22nd January 2018
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Legality and ethics are different considerations. In the UK you are allowed to take pictures of anyone you like, including the police if you wish. I avoid children, also the disadvantaged, the homeless for example.

This picture that follows was taken using film, the young lady was aware and just continued on her way as we passed within feet of each other. If she had asked to see the picture as many people do, I would have to explain the use of an analogue camera.

Liverpool by -Steve Ricoh-
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Old 22nd January 2018
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Thanks. That's mainly the legal rather than the ethical aspect.

There are also I think legal grey areas with regard to intellectual property. E.g. photocopying of some things - e.g. a poem - is a breach of copyright, but - if I understand the law correctly - if you photograph something then the IP belongs to the photographer. So you could use photography instead of photocopying to use someone else's poem without paying royalties.

(cross posted with Ricoh; this was a response to Johnheatingman's post)
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Old 22nd January 2018
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Nice image Ricoh.

Homeless people is an interesting point, and subtle considerations apply I think. If it is respectful and consensual, then I think it could be a good thing. But if it's done (or may be perceived as having been done) in a voyeuristic way, then defintely not good.

There has been an interesting project in Nottingham where hoeless or culnerably housed people have been loaned cameras to take their own photos, and these were exhibited and some made into a calendar.

https://peopleofthestreets.co.uk/col...ramed-pictures
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Again, a simple search reveals a wealth of comment on the subject of the ethics of photography. This PDF file is quite interesting:

http://heathershuker.co.uk/blog/wp-c...phy-Ethics.pdf

I'm not quite sure what your original purpose was in posting the thread, whether you are seeking advice or attempting to start a discussion on the subject.

John
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Thanks. I did some searching a while back and found a multiplicity of views. The piece you posted looks worth reading. To answer your first question, I really don't mind whether it's a conversation or useful links or - indeed - no interest. I'm a bit new to this and wondered whether there was a consensus. The issue about copyright seems to be in flux I think.
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Old 22nd January 2018
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobEW View Post
There are also I think legal grey areas with regard to intellectual property. E.g. photocopying of some things - e.g. a poem - is a breach of copyright, but - if I understand the law correctly - if you photograph something then the IP belongs to the photographer. So you could use photography instead of photocopying to use someone else's poem without paying royalties.
)
I'm not a lawyer but I studied media law a long time ago so remember some of the basics.

If the photo was the same as a photocopy e.g. the only thing in the frame then it's the same breach of copyright - the mechanism is irrelevant.
Even writing it out in long hand doesn't give the copier any rights over the work.

If a component of the image was a poem then I think the photograph could be considered a "Derivative Work" which would require the authorisation of the original copyright owner and the ownership to the photographer would only cover the added elements.

https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf
(excuse the PDF link)

You can reproduce part of a copyright work for the purposes of review and criticism e.g. quote a line or stanza and then comment upon it - this is "fair use" but you'd be pushing your luck to reproduce a complete work and then type "nice" at the end

If the poem is permanently in a public place, in the UK we have right Freedom of Panorama which would allow you to take a photograph of it and reproduce it but not all countries have the same rules.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_panorama



The main point of copyright for photographers is people often erroneously believe they have ownership of their own image in someone else's photo. This isn't the case - if you take a photograph of a person from public property you don't need their consent to do anything with it including selling it for money.
However in many circumstances a publisher may require a model release before they cough up for an image in a commercial context.



Then there are ethics - personally I'm not comfortable with photographers sticking their lens in the face of strangers then quoting their legal right to do it if the subject objects.
Part of the process is having respect for your subject, if your subject is unhappy with you taking their picture then you aren't being respectful.
It's a bit different with a news photograph but ordinary people going about their business aren't the same as a public figure on a public engagement.

I'd also think it's entirely reasonable to take and share photographs of people in a parade as part of the point is being noticed, you don't go on a march to hide!

The issue with photographing kids is always going to be laden. When my daughter was smaller I had strangers ask if it was OK to take her picture, I was always OK with it. If I'd spotted someone taking long lens pictures of her in the park I might have had a conversation with them or taken her out of their view. I also took pictures of other kids with her in the playgrounds I never made any secret of what I was doing.
The only time I was asked to delete an image was at the childminders - one of the other kids was subject to a care order and had been removed from their parents for their own protection. The childminder pointed out that if the image got on to facebook then it might be seen by a friend of a friend of the parents and that would alert them to the whereabouts of the child. Obviously I did as I was asked.
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Old 22nd January 2018
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

That's a well-researched and well-argued piece by Heather Shuker. Thanks. (I trust she got a good mark for it as part of her MA)
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Old 22nd January 2018
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Thanks AMC - great insights.

A poem is quite a clear cut example, and you're right about derivative works. But some product photography or architectural photography may also be largely derivative, deriving most of its creative, inspirational value from the product designer / architect rather than from the photographer. There's some discussion but as far as I can see little consensus in IP circles about what constitutes "sufficiently different" for the IP of the image to belong to the photogtrapher.

I do agree also with the general sense that it is wise to let ethical considerations have some sway, not just legal limitations.

I collect craft pottery, and visit pottery fairs which are sometimes in public places. Usually the makers are fine with you photographing their work for personal use, but uncomfortable if you're going to represent their workmanship to the public, or if you plan to sell photos. If you buy a piece then they're usually / always okay with you sharing photos of it, especially in the context of where it is displayed in your home.
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Sure - none of this is 100% clear cut.
Architecture in the UK is generally covered by Freedom of Panorama - the exception being private land. People are often unaware that places like shopping centres are private so the owner can enforce restrictions on photography.
However placing restrictions on photography in private places is really sticky to enforce, if the land owner doesn't make restrictions clearly visible then they will not necessarily be able to enforce them at a later date e.g. ask for a chunk of your revenue from selling pictures taken on and of their property.
There is a multipage thread over at Talk Photography discussing the merits (and otherwise) of the National Trust's photographers agreement.

As I never expect to make any money from my pictures I'm generally only a spectator in those threads
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Sometimes urban spaces which appear to be public are privately owned. A couple of times I've been asked to stop taking architectural photos by security guards when I was in what appeared to be a public street or square, and in both cases they were able to point to inconspicuous signs at boundaries showing that they were not public space, so of course I complied. And I think huge chunks of central London are technically the private property of the Duke of Westminster and he doesn't allow the use of tripods, though of course that's hard to enforce.
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Old 22nd January 2018
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

Always good to discuss this: thanks for that article, John: very good.

Yes, there are several sometimes competing principles: to 'law' and 'ethics', one should add 'rights' as well.

The right of free speech (and free photography) is not one a 'free' society should give up easily, even allowing for all the various interpretations that some apply, to which I would include the pernicious potential impact of anti-terrorist legislation by our current political masters.

Some of my friends have said "It doesn't affect me, I've got nothing to hide". Well, the election of Trump should give pause to anyone naive enough to think that such legislation and loss of the right to digital privacy is safely given away in the UK because it would never be misused here. We are already the most surveyed country in the world - there's currently one surveillance camera for every 10 of the UK population.

Anyway, back to the issue directly at hand: Amateur Photographer has a pdf of a card that summarises the UK position on 'rights' and they have a page that pulls together various related newsy issues (although some of the 'advice' there needs a bit of interpretation): http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk...raphers-rights
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Re: Ethics of candid photos of people

The different laws in place for this sort of thing in different countries are well worth checking before travel.

There are some surprising legal restrictions in some countries: France, Hungary and Germany have quite draconian laws against actually taking identifiable images of people in public or private places, never mind what you might do with them. So, that explains why many street photographers who often shoot in Germany tend towards the 'figures in the landscape' style (e.g. Thomas Leuthard, Marco Larousse).

However, I've shot a lot in the streets of all 3 countries and have never had the slightest issue with anyone complaining. In fact, the last time I was in Germany a guy came up to me and I thought he was about to complain so I straight away offered to delete the image. In fact, he just wanted me to send him a copy!
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