What's the etiquette?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by ex_mudmechanic, Nov 9, 2010.

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  1. I've recently rediscovered a latent interest in photography, so I've been taking a few random shots around London, and have a question for the more photographic members of the site.

    I'm aware that it is perfectly legal to photograph in any public place, but what about the etiquette of photographing members of the public? As an example I walked to work from St Pancras on the day of the tube strike and took a few pics on the way. There were some excellent opportunities, but I was a bit shy about capturing individuals who would have made excellent subjects. What's the etiquette, are people generally happy about it?

    By the way, if you feel like donating any constructive criticism: Some of my efforts.
  2. I seen some cards lying around once that had "I'm a photographer not a terrorist" printed on one side and the laws on the other, I'm pretty sure you can photograph whatever you want in a public place, there is also a website of the same name: I'm a Photographer, not a Terrorist maybe something useful on there.

    Liked your Heineken can, that would make a good poster and Red Shoes, very Schindlers List.
  3. Sympathetic_Reaction

    Sympathetic_Reaction LE Book Reviewer

    Okay welcome to the landmine strewn field of photography.

    There is a difference between etiquette and legal as you mentioned, although please note that it is not always legal to photograph people in public places, London for example has some specific areas where photography for commercial reasons needs a licence and photography of anyone where they can be identified in association with other data (name, age, address) could come under the Data protection act.

    As for etiquette/ethics of photographing people then i'd suggest a few thought, and there are many different approaches.

    Group images - people on the streets, crowds, long distance generic streetscapes are all pretty much open house in my mind.

    Images of individuals, especially if you capture the face, start becoming more difficult. If they are going about everyday activities, shopping, reading, eating - then you are pretty much okay, although if they notice they may not think so. It may be prudent to ask permission if you want to take multiple images, but then you may lose the spontaneous/natural look you were after.

    Individuals doing something less than everyday activities - leaving the local porn store (unless it's MDN), betting shops, pubs during the day, being drunk or doing something illegal - then you are probably on rather more dodgey ground. People tend to be very protective about thier image and may not want it captured doing somehting they may be embarrassed about.

    Note that multiple photographs of a person, taken in different locations over a period of time, especially after they have intimated (by movement or avoidance) or verbally stated they don't want to be photographed could be classed as harrassment.

    Images of Children start becoming ethical and steeped in legal misunderstandings - taking their image in public is perfectly legal, but you will come across public and police who believe otherwise. Similar issues effect areas which could be 'security' related - police stations, big office blocks, etc all believe they are covered by terrorism acts to protect them from photography...in general they aren't
    but they tend to get quite stressed about it.

    How far you want to push the etiquette is up to you, each photographer will have thier own limit...personally I avoid people as I'm not great at taking thier image and it's all too complicated....other people love pushing the boundaries.

    Not a definative answer for you, but I don't think there is one.

  4. Cheers, SR.

    I think we're on approximately the same lines. Where children are concerned, that's a definite no-no, which is a shame, because they generally make the most candid photos. But as we all know, all men are potentially paedophiles.

    The same goes for attractive young women, I don't want to be seen as a pervert, which is also a shame.
  5. Here's a subject for you. If you see any Japs mooching about with cameras, try and follow them. One of their favorite subjects is lady traffic wardens.
    The little slitty eyed snappers almost hunt them like they're big game and you'll get some amazing shots of the Nips trying their best not to be noticed
  6. A longer lens helps.

    Even better - a good zoom, but they're expensive.

    You can park yourself somewhere, frame up on a landmark, pointing the camera at that while you scope your real subject out of the corner of your eye and then reframe and pop the shot. If they notice you, look at the back of the camera as though you're just fiddling with exposure or something and then make a big show of reframing on the landmark and waste a couple of frames. You can always delete them.

    That's what I do, especially when taking photos in dodgy places.
  7. KotB, that's what I've been doing, exactly that! It relies on seeing a decent suject a long way off though!
  8. ex_mud - the key is to wander around and do a bit of a recce for a shot before finding your vantage point. I use a 18 / 200mm lens on a D200 Nikon (cost me a bleedin fortune) but wandering about with it, looking like a tourist, means you can get quite close and crack off a crafty shot mostly without being noticed. Got one pic this way in The Sunday Times. Rest of em were shiite, though.
  9. I think the way forward is to use a professional looking camera with a big lens. Unfortunately I'm up against it financially, and have managed to blag a Canon PowerShot S5, which looks a bit like a DSLR to a novice like me, but really isn't!
  10. Nice one - that'll get the job done; you just have to be a bit sneaky. I was with a professional photographer in Afg and he carried a little digital job along with the big feck off camera. He'd take photies on the big camera and then pop off shots on the tiny fella and nobody noticed. Afghans always pose theatrically when they see a camera. He got the best pics on the little job - not even bothering to frame shots, but shooting wide and cropping on a laptop later.
  11. I've also got a Lumix which takes incredibly sharp pics for its size, so I may just try that.
  12. Why is it a shame that you don't want to be seen as a pervert? Are you one ?
  13. Just stand there and very obviously take photos.... if you are furtive you will be noticed and people will be suspicious... if you just stand there in the open and take the photos nobody will care because you are not hiding anything... if you want a close up of a beggar, a flower sales person, a traffic warden, go and ask them, with a big smile, if they would pose for a nice photo.... then take a couple, then pretend to finish, and grab the final one they aren't expecting... that will generally be the shot you want. Just do it out in the open, and don't feel or look self-conscious as people will immediately see guilt all over your face. Once you've been doing it a while people will either ignore you totally, just won't see you, or we'll be visiting you in the Scrubs :-D
  14. I often ask people out with animals if I can take their picture, as my girlfriend's business uses images of animals. I just ask away and offer to email the pictures to them if they want. If you saw somebody and wanted to take photos of them close up, just approach them and say Iam trying to get photos of a certain subject Iam doing for a project for etc, and I think you/your etc would make a excellent photo opportunity. If they are out in public looking or doing something interesting for you to want their picture they probably wouldn't mind anyway.
  15. Some good ideas there, chaps. Thanks. The main problem I have with asking people is that human nature is to either pose or look self-conscious.