Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taking you taking them

Taking you taking them, originally uploaded by Headphonaught.

I didn't intend to take this picture tonight... I have no idea who the chap is in the pic nor do I have any thought as to why he considered it acceptable to photograph the Soup Van and the queue of folks waiting to be served.

I actually was quite blatant about taking the photo... but either he didn't notice or didn't care.

I found his behaviour rude and... if I am honest... rather dangerous.

We do not take photographs as a rule because we don't want to put a barrier between us and the folks we serve... some of which would prefer not to have their photo taken.

He was rude because he didn't ask... and he took a chance because he would have met with some strong opposition if he'd been spotted.

In hindsight... whilst I appreciate what he's trying to do... it still seems wrong to me and probably explains why I prefer to take pictures of buildings or people I know. People need a choice.

In this case... beggars can be choosers. For some people, choice is all they have.

I have spoken before about the abstraction of homeless folks from a group of individual folks with individual needs... to an entity... a "them". To destroy this abstraction... we need to personalise the folks we meet... get to know their names... listen to their story... be mindful to their needs and give them a choice as to how we can meet the needs they identify. We need to give them a choice.

People deserve the common courtesy to be asked whether or not they wish to have their photo taken. Not an easy task considering the number of folks present.

I just hope he got an awesome image that will be used to the benefit of the homeless in Glasgow.


Ian McKenzie said...

Some of my Flickr pals in town have been discussing the issue of photographing street people and the homeless. Many feel it is okay; others will do it only after asking; and there are those who won't do it. I tend to the latter group. I've taken pictures of people on the street here, but only when they've asked.

I believe even those who agree to have their picture taken do so out of that heightened sense of courtesy which folk on the street tend to have, not because they really want it.

Angus Mathie said...

Well said!

Jonathan Blundell said...

I'm not sure I agree on this one. But I appreciate your thoughts and will continue to chew and think on it.

Perhaps the man taking the photo wasn't as interested in showing who was homeless, but rather highlighting the fact that there are those with big hearts who are helping those in need.

Maybe the pics will show up on Flickr and you can get the back story on the photographer's intentions.

While we were out and about in the Bahamas I took a number of pictures, including the people and the bits of culture I saw in the tourist areas.

I didn't take many (if any) closeups of folks - or specific photos of people - more general photos that happened to include people.

No one seemed to mind except for a street musician I grabbed a photo of - he was a bit upset that I didn't tip him as well. I wish I had had the change/cash to do so.

In Nigeria I took A LOT of photos of people, closeup - far away and no one seemed to care. There were times I asked people to stop what they were doing so I could grab a photo of them - but otherwise I didn't usually ask. Most people were glad to have their picture taken and if they saw me taking the photo they usually asked to see it as well.

In the newspaper business, there's a rule that if someone is out in public - child, adult or otherwise - you legally have the right to take their photo.

So perhaps that's where my opinion on this matter rests.

I do understand the desire and common courtesy of asking for photos and I'd appreciate it more if people did ask to take my photo (not that anyone ever has) but I also wouldn't be offended if I was out in public and found someone taking my photo.

Existential Punk said...

tend to agree with Jonathan on this one, T, but will definitely chew on your words. As a photographer i love telling stories through pictures. Sometimes that involves telling sad stories. Sometimes it is good to ask, like when i was in Kenya years ago. Some in the Masai tribe believe taking their photo stole their soul, so we refrained from taking their photo. If we were not sure they were Masai, we asked first before taking the picture. Sometimes taking a picture without asking gets a more natural photo.

All the best!


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