Street photography and privacy

Street photography and privacy, the right to privacy; where is the line to be drawn? There are occasions when people are in intimate moments, when their emotions overspill and are so evident; is it OK then to hoist a camera and document that? I am not sure. I remember one time in Riga when I threw an ashtray at a photographer who was asking a young boy to extend his hands in a begging gesture so he could get a photograph of it. This attempt to get the shot went on for a while. The boy cooperated because I presume he believed that in doing so the guy would recompense him. He didn’t. Without even a word of thanks he turned and walked off. I picked up the ashtray (a plastic one) from the table l I was sitting at and threw it at him. I missed, thankfully.

When I am taking street shots what am I trying to capture? I honestly do not know. Looking though my iPhone stream, selecting some of my personal favourties, I stumbled upon the shot below. I remember taking it on a busy street in Lisbon. We were there on a family holiday in 2011. The couple are in a public place, but the moment they are sharing is intensely private. Their embrace, their unspoken togetherness got all my attention. My head raced as to how this moment was arrived at. I could say that instinctively I got the iPhone out and photographed it, but perhaps it was more predatory. Here were two strangers, two people I would never meet again whose intimacy and its story I could shoot. I did.

Now, despite the questions this poses; whether it is intrusive or not, I do like the photograph a lot. There is a tenderness and love there.

I would love to hear feedback on the questions it poses. Thanks.

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The things I remember

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4 responses to “Street photography and privacy

  1. Beautiful image…
    They’re new questions and I’ve often wondered this myself. What happens if someone comes across their image in a photographer’s exhibition? What happens with cultural nuances that deem, for example, image after death taboo?

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