Ethics and responsibility in street photography

Here are five points on the ethics and proper approach for street photography:

Respect someone’s privacy

One of the first things you’ve to remember as a street photographer is to never invade a person’s privacy, even in a public space like a street. I have seen far too many instances where a photographer has used intrusive methods where they have got too close for comfort to their subject.

Always respect if someone says no

Photographers often don’t even ask for permission before taking a shot. I know that once you approach someone as a photographer, that person is conscious of your presence, and the subsequent image is no longer candid. But what is more annoying is that even after someone asks not to be photographed, some street photographers persist and take pictures. This should not be your approach. Always respect a person’s privacy when they say no to you taking their images, even in public spaces. By doing so, you’re also doing a favor for yourself. How?

Let’s say you’re in a foreign country, and the culture differs from the one back home. People are not as friendly, and there are reservations about you taking images of people on the street. You’ll get into trouble if you’ve always felt it’s your right to shoot pictures of everyone on the street.

Be aware of the customs and traditions of the place

This continues from the example I cited above. Always be aware of the law of the land and the customs and traditions of the place you’re in. this is important when you’re shooting in a foreign land. So the rules, customs, and practices may not necessarily be the same as ┬áIf you can have someone local with you when you shoot street photography. That person can remind you of the customs and traditions of the place and save you from falling into a potentially violent situation.

Use your common sense

Trust your intuition and use your common sense to avoid situations quickly getting ugly. You notice someone sporting a funky hairstyle, and as a street photographer, you’re naturally drawn as you want to make a shot. But you don’t know that the person is a member of a violent gang that does not care about you or your vocation. Knowing who to approach and stay away from is just one of the many judgment calls you must make as a street photographer.