Mom Beats Up College Student Taking Pix of Her Daughter in Park

Readers — weren’t we just talking about bizarre belief that anyone photographing children is somehow putting them at risk? And creepy to boot? Here’s what happened in Springfield, Mass, by reporter Conor Berry, at The Republican: 

 A 32-year-old city resident was arrested for allegedly stomping on the face of a college student who was taking pictures at a Liberty Heights park on Tuesday afternoon.

Victoria M. Torres, of 211 William St., was taken into custody for assaulting a 22-year-old student who was taking snapshots for a “photography class project” near the water park in Van Horn Park, Springfield police spokesman Sgt. John Delaney said.

The incident happened around 5 p.m., Delaney said. Torres approached the photographer and “demanded in a threatening manner” that she delete any pictures containing images of her children, according to Delaney. The student, who wasn’t publicly identified by police, tried to avoid a confrontation and started to leave the park.

“As she was walking out, the outraged female came over and punched her twice in the face, grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to the ground,” Delaney said. Torres then “kicked the victim and stomped her face” after the photographer had fallen to the ground, Delaney said.

Here’s the rest of the story, and here are a couple comments I liked from The Stir at Cafe Mom, which ran a post on the beating:

“While any mom would be unnerved by the idea that a stranger had taken photos of her children”

No. Just no. Stop being so paranoid. I can’t believe the number of people who agree with the spirit that taking pictures is wrong and only think the mom went too far in trying to stop the photographer.

When you’re in public, you have no expectation of privacy. No one needs your consent to take your photo and use it however they want.


“Did you take the time to think that maybe she is protecting her kids from something else? Like and abusive ex? You never know”
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that I “know” that the abusive ex won’t be looking at the photography class project. And if he did (is he the professor, or what?) he would know that the kids were at the water park one day this summer.
No pictures of my kid!

No pictures of my kid!

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234 Responses to Mom Beats Up College Student Taking Pix of Her Daughter in Park

  1. Buffy July 27, 2014 at 6:21 am #

    Some of the comments on The Stir are unbelievable, especially the woman who called 911 , and then was told by the police to take her child home from the playground FOR THE DAY because a male said hello to her through a chain link fence.

    I just can’t with this.

  2. MichaelF July 27, 2014 at 6:49 am #

    Now if it was a male photographer I’d expect it, since we “know” all males are just pervs in hiding. The fact that this was a female college student, to me, says the paranoia has really gone over the line.

  3. BL July 27, 2014 at 7:01 am #

    “Did you take the time to think that maybe she is protecting her kids from something else? Like and [sic] abusive ex? You never know”

    Somehow I think if she has an ex, he’s the one with the abusive ex.

    Just a hunch.

  4. Dhewco July 27, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    Yeah, I heard about this a couple days ago. I hadn’t realized the photographer was a man. I think we should stop ‘expecting’ it when there’s a man involved. I don’t think men are more perverted than women, I think people report the men more.

    My first experience with porn was in the 4th grade and the two middle aged women who lived next door delighted in showing me and my slightly older sister porn (magazines). Not sure what they got out of it, they never attempted to get me and my sister to do anything. We didn’t report it.

  5. Dhewco July 27, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    was-wasn’t..I meant wasn’t a man.

  6. E July 27, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    Obviously physical violence is wrong, no question.

    But shouldn’t a photographer be nice enough to delete the photos upon request?

    And I’m not sure the anyone can take photos of anyone for any reason. There is a reason that Model Releases exist. I’m not sure where a “photography class project” falls, but certainly the reasonable thing to do if someone asks you to remove their (or their children’s) likeness from their photo card…you should do it.

    I’m a photo hobbyist. I’ve had parent ask me to remove photos from the web from school events. I do it without a single delay or question.

  7. E July 27, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    Just to clarify….I’m personally not creeped out by people taking photos. I do it myself.

    My point is that you can believe that “people taking photos” is harmless at the same time you can believe that common courtesy can exist as well.

  8. Emily Morris July 27, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    The article’s comments were full of people pointing out nothing illegal happened concerning the photo shooting. What if there were no child photos to delete? She could have been photographing anything.

  9. Donna July 27, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    E –

    You absolutely can take photographs of anyone in public spaces any time. There are, however, limits as to commercial uses of those pictures. That is where model releases come in. The release isn’t to address the taking of the photos, but what can be done with them afterwards. A college class project would not be a commercial use so a release would not be needed.

    While it may be nice for someone to delete photographs if requested, there is no legal obligation for them to do so. We create many problems in this world by trying to turn niceness into mandatory action. People are not required to be nice and, even if they were, definitions of nice are going to vary from person to person.

    Further, based on the outcome of this story, I highly doubt that the mother asked nicely herself. The photographer was trying to run away when the mother jumped her so I imagined that “asked” is a very loose definition of what occurred to start with. The old adage of “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is 100% true. People are highly unlikely to do nice things for you when you are being an ahole to them.

  10. ChicagoDad July 27, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    People are wierd about photos, but these days cameras are everywhere and so much about us (including pictures) are online. It seems as though as our sense of privacy is eroded quietly and en masse, there are some who react angrily when that seeming lack of privacy is made overt and personal. It is like lashing out at something you can’t control.

    It isn’t just parents who act this way, though the combination of photophobia and stranger danger is particularly potent.

  11. SOA July 27, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Courtesy goes both ways. If confronted by someone asking to stop taking pictures of their kids or to delete any photos with their kids in it, the best way to handle it is to explain why you are there taking pictures in a calm way and then tell them you will happily edit their children out or delete any with their children in it, then move elsewhere away from their kids to photograph.

    That solves the problem and most sane people would be okay with that.

    This woman was obviously not sane since she chased the photographer down. But I also wonder if the photographer might have given her attitude or something. That does not excuse her actions, but it takes two people most of the time for a conflict to happen. Meaning both parties have some responsibility in it. Not always. Sometimes people attack out of nowhere which may be the case here. But often times neither party handled the situation well and then that is where the conflict arises.

  12. J.T. Wenting July 27, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    “But shouldn’t a photographer be nice enough to delete the photos upon request?”

    definitely not. If you’re within your rights, stand up for those rights.
    If you don’t, the bullies have won and you no longer have any rights at all.

    “And I’m not sure the anyone can take photos of anyone for any reason. There is a reason that Model Releases exist. I’m not sure where a “photography class project” falls, but certainly the reasonable thing to do if someone asks you to remove their (or their children’s) likeness from their photo card…you should do it.”

    Model releases are for commercial use only, and then only if the people can be individually recognised and are the subject of the picture.
    So a person standing in the background who, with a magnifying glass, can be made out and maybe recognised by a relative or friend by some distinctive clothing will not need to sign a model release for example.
    And you also don’t need one for every person on that theme park ride you took snapshots of for your family album.

    Your attitude of ‘always give in to bullies’ is what led to the current situation in the first place.
    By doing so you implicitly admit you were doing something wrong, strenghtening the conviction of the people making such demands that “there should be a law against it”, and before you know there is a law against it.

  13. J.T. Wenting July 27, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    “My point is that you can believe that “people taking photos” is harmless at the same time you can believe that common courtesy can exist as well.”

    clearly that’s no longer the case as common courtesy would not kick a photographer into hospital for taking pictures.
    Only the assumption that the simple fact of pointing a camera is causing harm can do that.

  14. Reziac July 27, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    And yet there’s a fair chance this park has a surveillance camera, and you have NO idea who is viewing its pictures.

    I think the truth is, the mom here is stark staring.

  15. bmj2k July 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    While I don’t totally disagree with the mom (she went way too far but I wouldn’t want a stranger taking pics of my kid either), the student could have first asked for permission and/or had a copy of the class assignment to show. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, but in today’s world you should expect some people to take issue when taking pictures of kids.

  16. Tim July 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    It’s not clear if the children were the subject of the photographs or merely possibly in the background. The article said the pictures were taken “near the water park,” but this still doesn’t make it clear. There’s not enough information to make a judgement.

    Just because it’s legal to walk up to a person in public and photograph them without their permission doesn’t mean it’s not rude. Propriety dictates you ask for permission and don’t start photographing children without asking parents permission if they happen to be nearby.

    This etiquette exists in many countries and enough people feel strongly enough about it, that it’s considered prudent to ask permission no matter your stance on the subject.

  17. Stafir July 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm #


    Common courtesy also dictates that if someone does something slightly rude, but legal, and then stops doing it and starts to walk away when confronted.

    You don’t chase them down, sucker punch them to the ground, then kick and stomp on their head.

    And I’d say if any common courtesy was not would be the mother who didn’t do it.

  18. E July 27, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Refusing to remove a photo,from your camera is ‘standing up for your rights’? There was a reason I used the term “common courtesy” because that’s how society can be a nice place to be or an unpleasant one.

    Have you seen (or heard) about the websites that shame overweight young women? People are doing that for spite and it’s legal….do you stand up for them because it’s their “right”? Or do you wish people acted differently.

    I agree with Donna that there is no law about “removing the photos” but I wasn’t suggesting that the law required them from refusing to delete it. I was suggesting that in a forum where we constantly talk about using common sense and courtesy that if asked to refrain or remove photos, people should be considerate enough to do it.

    As far as the model release, I was responding directly to the incorrect comment in the original post that said “no one needs consent to take your photo and use it however they want”. If we’re publishing comments to support a viewpoint it works better if they are not false.

  19. E July 27, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Again just to be clear, the woman assaulted the photographer and that is not excusable at all. That’s not the subject I’m talking about.

    It’s within people’s rights to call police if they think there is a crime or someone is in danger, it is not a crime to make that call (even if they are mistaken). But people here, over and over, point out the other choices people have…call a parent, talk to a parent, exercise caution, because that is the more reasonable and courteous thing to do.

    It would have been the courteous thing to do to respect a parents request.

  20. Andy July 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    @E It is entirely possible that mom asked very politely about photo removal and started to be aggressive only after being refused. However, while possible I find that scenario very unlikely.

    If you would ask me politely to remove the picture, I would or I would at least discuss that with you. Common courtesy as you call it from both sides.

    If you would come to me aggressively and demand me to remove them or else, I would not be inclined to do it. I have right to keep them, you were bully and impolite, so I ow you nothing. I think this is the situation people refer to when they talk about “standing up your rights” and “not giving in to bullies”.

    For some reason, I guess that mom started by being aggressive.

  21. Stacy July 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    When I took photos for a newspaper about twenty years ago, I would snap shots of kids at community events and then ask for permission to use them in the newspaper. You can’t get the same kind of candid, interesting shots if you ask for permission first. Even kids stop acting natural when they know the camera is on them, and you miss those perfect moments. I imagine this student photographer was thinking the same thing. Since the photos were not going to be made public or used for profit, it wasn’t crazy to assume that people in a public place would be okay with being photographed. Clearly, if a parent asked politely for photos of her children to be deleted, it would be polite to delete them, but the officer reported that she demanded it in a threatening manner. It is not surprising the photographer tried to walk away, possibly out of fear or at least the desire to avoid a confrontation.

  22. Donna July 27, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    E –

    I think the common courtesy required depends on the pictures being taken.

    If someone is clearly aiming a camera and taking pictures of my child as the subject of the pictures, I would think that common courtesy would dictate that the photographer stop if asked. I don’t think anyone has the right to ask them to delete the images already taken, but photographers should at least honor the wishes going forward.

    However, if I am simply at a public place where pictures are being taken and my child is incidental to them, I don’t think common courtesy demands that the photographer stop taking pictures. Courtesy goes both ways and life doesn’t revolve around your child. A photographer need not wait until your child bores of the playground and goes home to get her pictures taken nor need she change her plans just because you are at the park.

    This actually happened to me. Over spring break we went to San Francisco. We were playing at the Sewell Street slides when some teens came up and started sliding and shooting pictures/video of each other on the slides. It appeared to be for a high school project. They said that they were taking pictures all over the neighborhood when my daughter asked what they were doing. They also goofed around with my daughter and raced her down the slides. I’m sure she was in several of their shots. I wouldn’t have asked, but I don’t think common courtesy would have ever dictated that these kids stop and wait for us to leave the park before shooting their pictures of the slides that my daughter was essentially photo-bombing.

    The thing is that we don’t know what these pictures were. Were this woman’s kids even in the photos? If so, were the photos of her children as the subject? Of groups of children playing at the park of which her children were just a couple? Pictures of the park itself that her children were photo-bombing? Without knowing that information, it is impossible to say whether courtesy dictates that she stop or not.

  23. JKP July 27, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Can someone clarify when a model release is actually required?

    A few people have said you need a model release for any photos you use commercially, but that doesn’t make any sense to me when I can think of many commercial photos with no release.

    1. Celebrity Photos: Paparazzi constantly take candid photos of celebrities and their kids anytime they step out in public, and then sell those photos to magazines sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then the magazines put those photos on the cover for the purpose of selling more magazines. Those celebrities never signed a model release.
    2. Perp walks: Anytime anyone notable (CEO, government official, celebrity, etc…) gets arrested and brought to trial, there are always the perp walk photos in the papers where they have their handcuffed hands up in front of their face trying to hide from the camera. Obviously they never signed a model release.
    3. B-roll footage & photos for news segments and documentaries: The news often plays clips of people in public doing whatever activity the news topic is about. When they do a segment on the obesity epidemic in this country, they show random people walking down a crowded city street and zoom in on all the overweight people in the crowd. I doubt any photographer walked up to those people and asked, “Could you sign off on us showing a picture of you on tonight’s news segment on obesity. We want to really zoom in on your big butt.”

    Personally, I know many people who have had their photos used commercially without a model release. My brother and his kid were at a public park and had their picture accompany an article about the renovations there. They weren’t in the background, either, the two of them were the entire shot. My dad had his picture in the paper napping on a park bench in a public park during his lunch hour. No model releases or even any notice the pictures had been taken nor that they would be published. When I had photos done by a professional photographer for my senior portraits, they used by photos for their advertising the following year.

    My understanding of model releases as a layperson (and I could be entirely wrong) is that the model is considered an artist giving a performance for the camera. They are posing and acting as directed by the photographer for the shot. So the copyright for the photos does not entirely belong to the photographer, instead the photo is a collaboration between two artists and the model owns their performance. Thus they need to sign a model release for those photos to be used by the photographer. But that same model on the beach on vacation with their family has no rights to the candid paparazzi photos, because those completely belong to the photographer.

  24. Lissa July 27, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    As I understood it during my time as a photographer, model releases are only required when the photo will be used for advertising purposes.

  25. Tsu Dho Nimh July 27, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    Good grief … let’s say the WORST happened and a pervert did see those shots. The child is long gone from that park.

    I’ve never been confronted by a parent, but my reaction would be to refuse to delete shots. If they want to assault me, THEN I get to publish the pictures as news.

    To clarify the need for model releases … because I actually sell pictures.


    1 – A celebrity … by definition they are “newsworthy”. (politicians, etc. Anyone who trades on their name and likeness)

    2 – No need if it’s real news, whether you sell photos or not. So that child escaping from a burning car … fair game! Perp walks … fair game! But make sure it’s related to the news.

    3 – No need if it’s used for “educational” or “editorial purposes. I could take the photos I have of children playing in the park and use them to illustrate an article about the need for parks. Kids playing in the water park for a story about heat waves. Kids sledding for an article about sledding safety.

    4 – The usual crowd shots, pedestrians in the background of an event, etc.

    5 – “personal use”, such as for a class in photography, a display of photography. Or just a hobby photographer.


    1 – Any picture that will be used for selling products or services, if recognizable persons are part of the pitch.

    I can’t use that pic of Madonna applying lipstick for my cosmetics line, even though I could sell it to TMZ and/or the New York times.

    I can’t use the pictures of kids playing in the park in an ad for my playgorund equipment, or the kids at the ski resort in the resort brochure without permission if they are clearly identifiable … you learn to shoot action where the head is turned.

    Educational or editorial BUT sensitive subject matter. A picture of a crying child, for example, could be used with no release for an article on coping with crying … but for an article on abuse it’s better to keep the kid’s face unrecognizable.

    Same with shots of medical situations – we have pictures of ski injuries for training purposes, but the patient is not recognizable. However, I’ve been known to take a pic FOR the patient with their camera so they can update their Facebook page and live-tweet the splinting of their ankle.

  26. JKP July 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    Thanks for the clarification, Tsu Dho Nimh!

    Also, as for the worst thing that could happen if a pervert did see the shots… parents seem to be worried not just about the pervert stalking and taking the child (in which case you’re right that the child is long gone from that park by the time they see the photo) but parents also seem overly worried about perverts jerking off to the photos. This raises it to the level of a thought crime, and how exactly do you police people’s private thoughts?

    The point of child pornography laws is that there is a real child being harmed if they are made to take naked photos and do sexually suggestive things to produce those photos. Those are the kinds of photos pedophiles are interested in.

    Generic photos of children in public doing normal kid things is not child pornography. And if normal kid photos were what pedophiles were after, then they could pick up any Toys R Us catalog.

  27. CF July 27, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Seriously? All the people ranting about their rights amaze me. Just because something is legal does not make it appropriate. It’s legal for me to talk to you incessantly at a dinner party about annoying political issues. It’s legal for me to fart in your face. It’s legal for me to pee on the toilet seat and not clean it up. It’s legal for me to be loud in a restaurant and to leave a crappy tip. It’s well within my rights to sing Miley Cyrus songs under my breath for 3 hours straight on an airplane.

    But are any of those things appropriate? Nope.

    If someone does not want themselves or their children to be photographed, get over it. Take a pic of one of the other people and move on. Just because it’s not illegal does not mean it is in any way appropriate to force the issue.

    You want to raise your kids without constant judgement and interference from others? Then respect the will of other parents to do the same and quit harping about your legal right to make others feel like you are in their personal space.

    There’s a huge difference between fascism and inconsiderate boorishness.

  28. Jen (P.) July 27, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    @JKP – The uses you describe would generally be considered editorial, not commercial, and therefore would not require a release. The use of a person’s likeness in something that is sold for a profit (such as a newspaper or magazine) does not render the use commercial. Commercial use is more related to advertising – the use of a person’s likeness to promote a product or service.

    Also, the copyright belongs to the photographer and is not shared with the subject of the photo. What the subject of the photo owns is his right to publicity, which is what is violated when the photo is used for a commercial purpose without the subject’s permission, hence the need for a release in those circumstances.

  29. Beth July 27, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    CF, please explain to me how it’s inconsiderate boorishness to want to take a photo of my child in a school play, at the pool, at a soccer game, or at the playground, despite the apparent horror that another child might be in that photo.


  30. SOA July 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    I am with CF. Etiquette is not law. Maybe it should be, but its not. That does not mean however that therefore since it is not law, you don’t have to teach it to your kids or practice it at all. Our society needs etiquette to function properly and smoothly. It is about consideration of others. If someone nicely asks you to not snap pics of them, you nicely comply if you can. Just like if someone nicely asks you to hold the elevator for them, you nicely do so.

  31. LRH July 27, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    In the public realm, you have zero rights to the expectation of privacy with respect to photography, especially if they’re not all up in your face following you everywhere or attempting “up-skirts.” That is the law, and it SHOULD be the law.

    I do hobbyist photography, and frankly, I’m not deleting any photos unless asked VERY nicely, not just because I’m not legally required to do so, but because getting so upset about something as innocent as a photo is just ridiculous and we risk ruining an entire art genre over people being excessively sensitive. Before you know it societal norms will change, for the worse, and people may think that you are legally required to ask permission.

    Best case scenario, I will “fake delete,” it’s easy–you delete, but then you remove the memory card and use another, and with the original card, run it through “image recovery software” on your home PC and you will have no problem recovering the “deleted” image.

    As a general rule, yes, show common courtesy, and there are definitely things which are legal but still rude. I can yell out “hey baby” to an attractive woman I see, but she probably won’t appreciate it, for example.

    Sometimes, though, to be blunt, people are being oversensitive, and rather than their oversensitive stance being respected, they need to be told “quit being so sensitive,” and I think this is one of those times. People weren’t so sensitive to photography 10 years ago, why start now? Like Lenore said in that one clip about a year ago, it went something like “why people think that an electronic photo being transmitted over these supposedly scary airwaves is dangerous, it’s a new thing, it doesn’t make any sense.” It totally dosen’t.

    What is that online photo of your child going to do them? 99.7% of the time, it will do nothing. The entire genre of candid-street photography is supposed to stop over a 0.3% odds? I’m supposed to ask permission to take any photos of anything? You can’t be serious.

    It goes without saying, too, that you CANNOT attack someone for taking photos. I’m really surprised, though, to read that a female photographer was attacked. I can tell you that from what I’ve seen people “gender profile” males with a camera, basically making the assumption that any male with a camera is a pervert. It’s ridiculous and it’s nothing less than a form of discrimination and profiling, and there’s no call for it.

    Believe me, I’m not obnoxious or pushy with how I take photos, I’m very easy-going for the most pat. However, anymore, I’m getting so tired of the stupidity of all of this, anymore I take photos almost just because I can, when all this time it’s mainly been just about pursuing a beautiful representation of life in photo form. This whole thing is ridiculous, it’s stupid, it’s a bunch of nonsense, and it deserves to be called that which it is, rather than over-sensitivity being pandered to.

  32. CF July 28, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    Beth, it’s not an a-hole move at all to take a pic of YOUR KID. It is an a-hole move to persist in photographing someone, as the prime subject of your photo, who has specifically asked not to be photographed.

    I know that artiste photographers like the one above feel that the whole art form, to which they clearly see their personal contribution as being vital, is endangered by that but even if that were true it’s not really the issue. (And trust me, photography will live on even if you refrain from taking pics of unwilling subjects.)

    I could care less if someone takes pics of my kid. It’s really not about whether or not something will “happen” to him as a result of the photo. He doesn’t like it. As such, if he asks someone to stop taking his photo while he plays at the playground or goes about his day then that person should stop. I support him in his choices about himself and find it ridiculous and offensive that adults have stood and argued with him about it. He is at the playground to play, not to be under someone’s arteeeestic microscope. You don’t need pics of my average looking kid to complete your portfolio.

    I support him not because of a legal right, but because each person on this planet has the right to make choices about their own bodies and does not owe the rest of the world an explanation for their personal preferences regarding themselves. Whether you agree with, understand, or sympathize with his choice is immaterial. Some people prefer not to be stared at. Not to be zoomed in on. Not to be photographed. Their reasoning is, frankly, none of your business. Kind of like how you probably don’t want some random stranger joining you at your table in a restaurant even though it’s not illegal for them to pull up a chair. It feels like a violation.

    Yes, it’s your legal right to persist in photographing anyone you want to photograph. It’s your legal right to be discourteous in quite a number of scenarios. One of them being holding your iPhone up in the air at your child’s school concert so that you have a video of the event but the three rows behind you have trouble seeing the concert live.

    People on this site are always promoting the idea that they should be able to conduct their lives without the judgement or interference of others. It cuts both ways, folks, whether you are an artiste or not.

  33. SOA July 28, 2014 at 12:59 am #

    My son with autism does not like having his photo taken. He has gotten better about it as the years have passed and will now at least pose and attempt to smile when I ask him to.

    Good luck anyone else though. We were at a birthday party recently and there was some lady walking around with a super fancy expensive looking camera taking pictures of everyone. I think it was a friend of the family. She came up and tried to get a pic of my son and she said “Every time I try to get a pic of him he makes that face (that face being his leave me alone mad looking face)”.

    I was like “Yeah he does not like having his picture taken.” She left him alone after that. Simple as that. She realized he was not into it after I confirmed it for her and she left him alone. Common courtesy is not that hard.

    For me I care less about my kids showing up in a picture so much as I would be more concerned if someone followed them around in their personal space repeatedly photographing them. Especially my camera shy son. I may get mama bear on you at that point and tell you to leave my kids alone. Not because I am so freaked out about their picture ending up somewhere and more because you are bothering them and they have the right to play and be a kid without someone following them around snapping their picture.

    But that has never happened and it probably never will. But if it did, I think I have every right to tell them to stop.

    I also personally do not get why you would want a pic of some random kid. If a kid ends up in a shot with your kids or you were photographing a tree and a kid ran in front of it, that is one thing and no big deal. But why go around photographing random people or random kids? That is just odd to me.

    When film used to be expensive I think there was a lot less of that happening because people were not going to waste expensive film and prints on a picture of some random person. Now with digital stuff I guess its no trouble or cost to snap whatever picture you want so I think people might be doing more of it. And people always have their cameras with them now with camera phones and small digital cameras.

  34. LRH July 28, 2014 at 2:03 am #

    CF I risk becoming ugly, but frankly–oh well. A person is just being silly to think they’re being “violated” just because there is an image of them that was captured without their specific consent. Potential commercial or liable concerns are one thing, but otherwise it’s just silly, and they are being ridiculous to act like an IMAGE of them having been taken, and taken in a non-harassing means (meaning they’re being stalked like the paparazzi or being given a hard time about it), is somehow a threat to their identity. They’re being ridiculous and, frankly–TOUGH. Get over it, or live in a cave. I said it, and I meant it.

    Yes, at some point, get over this nonsense. What, are we all Almish now?

    That’s the thing, too–I can go along with such nonsense, however silly it may be, when it’s an occasional exception, so yes, I could begrudgingly respect an Almish person’s request or the like. However, when it’s gotten to the degree that it has now, where it’s so common now, I can’t keep the jig up anymore at that point. Once it reaches that point, then I feel quite confident in saying “you guys are being silly, so shove it already.” What next, is someone going to suggest that it bothers them for someone to wear a shirt with yellow and pink dots on it, so now we all have to cease something like that too? Maybe you feel uncomfortable with African-Americans, so should people with brown skin spray-paint their skin white? Where does it end with these people who are making such a fuss over nothing?

    I sound as if I go around hassling people and being a pest. Trust me, I don’t, and yes, I’ve been to occasions where I was NICELY asked to not take photos by people who knew me and were great with me 99.7% of the time, and I went along with it. However, this is the thing–in the photos I do take in general, I very much “background shoot,” I am not up in people’s faces, I don’t chase them around, I don’t go for “upskirts,” and so I KNOW that no one has a reason to find my behavior a problem. If they are up in arms at that point, it’s THEIR FAULT for being ridiculous at something so silly as a photo. A photo does not steal your soul, and to think it does is, to be blunt, schizophrenic, and the only thing that a person should be offered at that point is the phone number to the nearest mental institution, because they, bluntly, belong in one.

    “I also personally do not get why you would want a pic of some random kid. If a kid ends up in a shot with your kids or you were photographing a tree and a kid ran in front of it, that is one thing and no big deal. But why go around photographing random people or random kids? That is just odd to me.”

    Look up Henri Cartier-Bresson.


  35. LRH July 28, 2014 at 2:30 am #

    I apologize if I am overposting, but I have an experience or two that I wish to share with respect to this.

    Part of why people like me are so intent on exercising this right we have to practice photography is because of how it’s being attacked in such ridiculous ways, and it’s sincerely based mostly on irrational paranoia.

    Last year at a lake I was photographing the lake and ONLY the lake, as I do landscape shots a lot, when a group of persons became uncomfortable and I was asked to stop, even AFTER attempting to nicely reassure them by showing them past landscape photos I’d taken and as I said “THAT is what I’m interested in, trust me, I have zero interest in photographing your aunt’s butt.” Even so, I was still asked to stop. Being that it was private property, I had to stop or leave, and so I left, but not without telling them what a bunch of morons they were being, because they were.

    I was at a lake some years ago taking photos of the ducks and ONLY the ducks, and wouldn’t you know it some dumb ignoramus starts screaming at me “don’t be taking photos of my kids you pervert,” so I replied “don’t worry, I only take photos of things that LOOK GOOD” (meaning you have one ugly freaking kid lady).

    Two years ago my wife & I were visiting a particular Italian restaurant for the 1st time, it was her birthday, and I took some snaps inside to show the scenery. There were no other customers besides us so it was impossible that we were being a nuisance to other customers. Even so, the waitress came out & said that the owner said we couldn’t take photos in there, and even when I NICELY stated “it’s my wife’s birthday, I’m just trying to get some snaps for our memories,” he refused. Fortunately for us we hadn’t ordered anything yet or even received courtesy bread, so we left, and on the way I let him know that was the reason why. Not only that, on social media, I mentioned the name of the place and told people to avoid it.

    THAT is why some of us are getting this way, because this whole fear of photographers, and male photographers especially, is becoming irrational. Even when we’re NOT taking photos of anyone’s kids (although I think that is totally harmless if not done in an obnoxious “paparazzi” manner) and are just taking snaps in an Italian eatery on our spouses’ birthday, or taking shots of the lake, and are doing all of this in a very low key manner, people STILL make a big deal out of it. We’re tired of it, it’s stupid and irrational and it’s becoming a mental illness in dire need of a cure at this point. We’re not going to tolerate this ostracizing of a beautiful and innocent activity anymore. I’m not hurting anybody at all (especially since, again, I NEVER engage in such activities in anything remotely “paparazzi” like in terms of being abrasive or harassing) and to fear a photograph in and of itself is just irrational.

    It’s foolish, and I just don’t suffer foolishness lightly, I call it the foolishness that it is and carry on. This is especially the case as I got into photography in the 80s as a teen when film constraints made it so hard and tedious to engage in this hobby. Digital has liberated me, I am like a horse let out of the fencing and allowed to gallop, and I’ll be darned if irrational fears based on pure hysteria are going to ruin a beautiful thing for me now that I’ve been liberated after all of these years.


  36. Donna July 28, 2014 at 4:21 am #

    CF – Read the facts here. Absolutely none of what you said is what occurred here. There isn’t a single fact given about the mother or children asking the photographer to stop at any point. The mother approached the photographer and demanded she delete any pictures of her children (my guess is in a completely unpleasant way since you don’t go from nicely asking to stomping someone’s face in two seconds). The photographer NEVER took another photo of anything, and in fact tried to leave the park entirely, and the woman jumped her.

    Heck, there are absolutely no facts saying that this woman’s children were the subject of a single photo. We have no idea what the subject of those photos were or if this woman’s children were even in any of them.

    There is no indication that this photographer thought she was an “artiste.” There is plenty of indication that the mother is batshit crazy. There is no justification for the mother’s behavior here, nor any facts to base an attack on the photographer for her lack of courtesy.

  37. Andy July 28, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    @CF I would complain about you in all following circumstances:
    * If you would physically attack someone for taking incessantly at at dinner party about annoying political issues.
    * If you would physically attack someone for farting.
    * If you would physically attack someone for not cleaning toilette seat.
    * If you would physically attack someone for not leaving tip.
    * If you would physically attack someone for singing whatever songs 3 hour straight. (maybe unless the song is racist and calls for blood )

    None of your examples makes physical attack ok, not even close. It would be an overreaction in all those cases (and illegal too).

  38. Sharon Davids July 28, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    My daughter is in lots of peoples cell phone cameras. At her old elementary school on Halloween and fall festival parents were running around with their parents and taking pictures of the kids with their friends. There was always a day care picture, temple picture, math picture, and home room pictures.

    After third grade I stopped following my daughter and started voluntering. I have no idea who snapped her picture and don’t care. She had fun and that is what mattered.

  39. E July 28, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    I would try to write more, but CF covered it PERFECTLY. Sure, there aren’t a lot of details on what transpired but NO WHERE does it say the photog said “yes, I’ll remove the images”. Of course we don’t know if they took photos of her children, but we can’t presume she didn’t (and it would be illogical to do so). Perhaps the kid complained to the mom about their photo being taken. We can go on and on.

    As far as LRH’s contention that someone is “just being silly” because they don’t want their image on your card? Really? So YOU are the sole arbiter in what works for other people should do and how they should feel about it? You get that the whole FR philosophy is allowing people (adults/parents) decide what is appropriate for their own children and that even if it doesn’t align with how you might behave that you RESPECT that?

    I have a sibling that has a real issue about being in photos (that predates digital imaging). I could into the whys and whatever (but it’s her story), but I remember one time giving her some grief at a family reunion about complaining about it and she very firmly and emotionally told me that for her, it’s a “phobia” and compared to something that makes me uncomfortable. I would never, EVER, after that discussion, take the attitude that she’s being silly or tell her “TOUGH”. Because I have compassion and respect for her wishes.

    As far as restaurants asking for no photography? You can thank all the people that go in and take photos of their plates to post on twitter/FB/instagram ad nauseam using flashes and such to the disruption of other diners. People stand up, and even stand on their chairs to take those dumb photos. So sure, it stinks that the restaurant asked you to stop, but it’s because of people’s overuse of photography to begin with.

  40. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    The blog post is right. When in public you do have a limited expectation of privacy. That being said taking pictures of people and children you don’t know is considered weird by, basically, a majority of people. So maybe it wasn’t that great of an idea. Clearly the mother over reacted too.

  41. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Incidents like this are rarer than car seat deaths. Why should we care? Seriously, the odds of this happening are less than a child getting kidnapped. There is no outraged mom danger. This is the same sort of sensationalism that Lenore is fighting against. Lenore, stop replacing one type of extremism (based on unlikely events) with another type of extremism (based on even less likely events).

  42. E July 28, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    @Donna, to be clear, not one person here (or anyone sane) would suggest that the attack was in anyway justified. She deserved to be arrested and charged.

    However, it’s bothersome to me, that in the original post, incorrect information extracted from The Stir comments said the following:

    “No one needs your consent to take your photo and use it however they want.”

    That is false and it’s bad information to share. Moreover, it’s a pretty crappy attitude to have.

    I was trying to draw the discussion into comparing the way many FR-readers get indignant about what is their right (or should be) in regard to parenting. Many stories that are discussed here talk about how people “should not” call police or “should not” question a parent about whatever…neither of those things are illegal to do, but people get bent about it (even suggesting that someone who calls 911 should be charged with false reporting). In this case, people are doing the exact opposite…suggesting that your “right” as a photographer trumps common courtesy in the request of a parent.

    I mean, every time there’s a post about a “busy body” calling 911 because an unsupervised kid is in a car or at a strip mall or walking down the street…one could just reply with “it’s their right”.

  43. E July 28, 2014 at 9:26 am #


    This wasn’t posted because of the photo fearing Mom attack, it was to hold her up as an example of parents fearful of public photography of her kid (because we should all feel the same about it and not care). Of course, no one has been able to ASK the Mom why she was pissed about it, so we’re just presuming she had no real reason.

    My point was that it’s none of the photog’s business why she asked, that it’s just being nice to do it upon request. I try to be nice. Yes you don’t have to and you should NOT be attacked if you don’t.

  44. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    OMG. This was the wrong horse to back. This lady already has a conviction (one count of aiding in the escape of a felon or accused felon). She is going to get some actual time for this.

    I also find it interested that “The suspect fled the scene.” So she beat up this college student and then ran away ditching her kids? Man was she the wrong horse to back for a blog article.

  45. Sherri July 28, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    This is who should have her kids taken away, not the woman who let her kid go to the playground. This woman is obviously crazy and dangerous.

  46. Sherri July 28, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    This is who should have her kids taken away, not the woman who let her kid go to the playground. This woman is obviously crazy, violent and dangerous.

  47. Mandy July 28, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Of course it’s necessary to be polite and unobtrusive, but taking pictures of people you don’t know isn’t at all weird, if they provide context to the image you’re trying to create. At the presidential inauguration, I took many portraits of random interesting people. I did ask them first when I wanted a more typical “portrait” but most were candid. Had anyone objected, I would have stopped.

    Have you never travelled to another country and taken pictures that included locals? Had I avoided taking pictures of people, all my photo albums would be much less interesting. Most of the local kids loved to be photographed, especially as they expect tourists to compensate them with coins or candy.

    Not weird at all.

  48. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    Mandy it is weird if you are taking a picture of only one person. It is. When you go to the presidential inauguration yeah you expect to get your picture taken. If you are at the Eiffel Tower, yeah it might happen. If you are in a random park eating a picnic with your kids and some tour group goes by and a bunch of random people take your families picture it is not only weird but plainly rude.

  49. E July 28, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    @Dirk…re-read your article, it only says she came to bail someone out, the aiding was a man with the same last name. It was 12 years ago and she wasn’t charged with anything (according to what you posted).

    @Mandy…yep it’s not uncommon or weird. But if you are asked to remove the photos after you’ve take it, it’s just nice to do it. The end.

    Here’s a different way to look at this. What if someone was taking photos of that young girl with the Mom that worked at McDs and didn’t have childcare? What if someone took photos of her sitting in a booth at McDs alone? What if that Mom got worried that she’d be reported using the photos? What if that Mom walked up and said “please remove that photo of my child”? Do we all think she’s unjustified in that line of thinking? It doesn’t matter if the photographer was putting together a project called “people in McDs”…the Mom doesn’t know that…she only knows that the kid is sitting in McDs all day and someone is now taking her photo.

  50. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Street photography has always been a tricky gambit. It isn’t that times have changed it is that people want to believe there used to be a better way in every way. There wasn’t.

  51. E July 28, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    @Dirk…MY BAD, I was the one that misread it and the use of the same last name. SORRY!!!!

  52. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 9:57 am #


    NO, you re-read the article. She and another man tried to help Samuel Guevara Jr., escape from jail. She, Victoria Torres and another man Carmelo Torres tried to do a jail break for Samuel Guevara. It says…

    “Torres pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of aiding in the escape of a felon or accused felon, and was sentenced to three to four years in state prison, Donato said. Another man, Carmelo N. Torres, 33, of 117 Westford Circle, also has been charged with aiding in Rodriguez’s escape”

  53. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Crosses comments!

  54. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    I agree with you Sherri. This is who should have her kids taken away, not the woman who let her kid go to the playground. This woman is obviously crazy and dangerous indeed.

  55. Donna July 28, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    E –

    You, CF and Dolly seem to be insisting that only the parent is entitled common courtesy. This was a public park, meaning that the entire public has the ability to use it as they see fit, including photographers. I can see common courtesy demanding that a photographer stop taking pictures focusing on a specific child if asked by the child or the parent. But a child’s use of a public park doesn’t trump the photographers use of the public park. So if the photographer was there taking group shots of kids in the park or pictures of slides or swings or trees, common courtesy doesn’t dictate that she must stop doing what she is doing and the onus is on THE PARENT to remove the children from the area where she is shooting if that is unacceptable.

    For example, in my situation with my daughter at the slide. Common courtesy in no way demanded that 7 teenagers stop filming themselves sliding on slides simply because my daughter was also using them at the time. Common courtesy in no way demands that any pictures containing my daughter’s image be erased from their cameras. They had as much right to be there (maybe even more since they were locals and I a visitor) as we did.

    Further, there is no way that common courtesy ever dictates that you must follow nasty and threatening requests to do people favors (and that is what this is since there is no legal obligation to stop photographing or to delete the photos). You can’t honestly believe that this mother asked politely. The article specifically states that the mother “demanded,” – not asked, but DEMANDED – that the photographs be deleted and did so in a “threatening way.” Since this description is far more consistent with someone then chasing down the photographer and stomping on her face, I tend to believe it to be much more accurate than the idea that the mother politely asked for the photos to be deleted.

  56. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Well, like I said before it is weird and frankly despite the nostalgia that some people feel it always has been a risky venture. Take a look at this history. Says it all…

    Jacques Henri-Lartigue was a street photographer, who shot a lot of photographs in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. He grew up in a wealthy family, and started photographing at a very young age. He documented much of his privileged life men racing in cars, people flying in planes, and fancy dressed people. He kept a diary where he outline what happened that day and the pictures he took (without permission). In it he talks about how people would get angry at him for taking their picture. Here is a quote.

    “She: the well-dressed, eccentric, elegant, ridiculous or beautiful woman I’m waiting for… there she comes! I am timid… I tremble a little. Twenty meters… ten meters.. five meters… click! My camera makes such a noise that the lady jumps, almost as much as I do. That doesn’t matter, except when she is in the company of a big man who is furious and starts to scold me as if I were a naughty child…”

  57. Warren July 28, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Frankly if you have issues with people taking pictures that could include you or your family when you are out in public………..then you are a world class whackadoodle, with issues you need to address with a therapist.

    There is no rational reason to worry about random photos being taken of you or your family.

  58. Warren July 28, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Lay off scolding Lenore. She is not going on about rampaging moms. The topic is the GROWING fear of people with cameras, taking pics of your kids. This has led to photo bans at schools, events and sports.

    And like I said, people like you that have issues with random photos of your kids, really need their mental and emotional states looked into. Nothing weird or creepy about it. If you think it is creepy, then you are the one that is creepy, for thinking that way.

  59. LRH July 28, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Sometimes Warren may come on a bit strong, but he’s exactly correct here. If you fear cameras in this way, you do need a therapist. Maybe there’s a nicer way that should be put, but yes, enough already. Maybe “whackadoodle” is a bit strong (although I kind of like it myself), but yes, you’re overreacting.

    As Mandy stated, there is nothing weird at all about taking photos of a child you don’t konw, especially as described–e.g., at public gatherings like a presidential inaugiration or on vacation at “interesting” places. I’d say even if it’s not a “vacation” per se but you’re at a new place that is “interesting” and you’re taking photos of what you see to remember the occasion, and that happens to include, say, 2 kids you see that are holding hands or something and it’s adorable & cute and you get a picture very much “in the flow” of life as it were, it’s not the least bit weird and it’s not rude either. I can somewhat respect that if someone is bothered by it and nicely asks you to do it no longer, I suppose you should stop then, you certainly shouldn’t “stalk” your subject, but it’s still an irrational fear in my mind, and always will be.

    Also, as someone stated (it may have been Mandy?), if you go around asking permission first, it ruins the pose and the moment due to “artificial/plastic” posing that doesn’t give anywhere near as interesting of a “natural” expression. That’s the whole idea of such photography–to capture NATURAL expressions.

    E–“In this case, people are doing the exact opposite…suggesting that your “right” as a photographer trumps common courtesy in the request of a parent.”

    The difference is that taking a photo does not interfere with someone’s rights, at all. When people are so adament about “helicopter” parenting that they use social services as a means of reporting someone, they’re basically FORCING someone to actually parent their children differently. I see none of that in that a photo of your child may end up in someone’s shots.

    The thing is, free range isn’t just about respect of parental authority, which I am HUGE on by the way, but also realizing that you’re part of a community, understanding that, and even being okay with that, with respect to how, for instance, your child will be playing wiht other children not just children from your “inner circle,” and will be exposed to various people. The idea is that it benefits your children, and the idea also is that it’s a joyful thing when other people enjoy your child and appreciate the joyful qualities they bring to life. You’re not so hard up about how they’re YOUR children to the point of being stubborn about that in a way that makes it less joyful for the community at large, especially when the attitude and/or steps you take really aren’t of any benefit to your children anyway.

    Frankly, to me anyway, free range is also about assessing risk and not getting so bent out of shape over things that some thing are spooky, when they really aren’t. Photography is one of those things–again, especially if the photographer isn’t being aggressive all up in your face “paparazzi” style, but is just “blending in” with what they’re doing and just enjoying the beauty of life around them in the form of the cuteness of children and attempting to create a photo that captures that essence.

    There is a balance to these things–respecting parent’s wishes vs a parent not getting bent out of shape over nothing. For instance, when I leave our children with relatives, I know they will parent them differently than how I would do it. So long as they’re not exposing our children to weird ideas from a cult or the like, I understand that and accept that, rather than pitching a fit about how they’re exposing my children to things I don’t approve of. They may be MY children, but these people should also have some freedom to interact with them however they feel in non-threatening and abusive ways, especially since I’m asking them to take them on for a period. In like manner, in a public place, your children are in a public place that is not solely your creation and things like photography will happen, and they’re no big deal, so yes–get over it. A nicer way of saying it might be “relax, it’s no big deal,” because it really isn’t.


  60. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    HI Warren, Nothing random about it. When a stranger is the center of a persons photograph that person can certainly not like it. You yourself said a similar thing recently in a post.

    I think you were talking to Dolly? You said that if her kids wouldn’t leave your kids alone you would take it to them…”Because once I have told you to stay away from me or my kids, the responsibility is now on you. Continue against my wishes and you risk arrest and or a visit to the ER.”

    Unwanted attention is unwanted attention. Not talking about a snap shot of a building or location here. Not talking about someone who is a parent of another kid on my kids team. Talking about how it is weird to take pictures of people you don’t know as the central theme of the photograph. Sure street photography exists and I have problem with people taking pics as tourists. Taking pics of people who are not part of the tourist attraction (meaning a guard, someone dressed up in traditional garb, etc) is weird.

    I am not worried about people taking pictures Warren of me while they take pictures out in public. I never give it a second thought (outside of those oddball tourists).

    But I agree that people are indeed worried about pictures in the digital age.

  61. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    And like I said before people definitely have a nostalgic and incorrect view of how things worked in the past.

    Jacques Henri-Lartigue was a street photographer. He kept a diary where he outline what happened that day and the pictures he took (without permission). In it he talks about how people would get angry at him for taking their picture.

  62. CF July 28, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Donna, I’m not describing people taking pics in which others incidentally appear, or group shots, or situations in which a person is clearly complicit. If I am understanding your posts, these are the types of situations you are describing.

    I’m describing situations, which, believe it or not, have happened multiple times to my child. They involved some body following my child, now 6, around a playground and photographing HIM. HIM in particular. Not the playground generally. Not a group of children. HIM. And when he politely asked them not to take any more pictures and to stop following him they argued with him. He didn’t ask for them to delete or to stop photographing generally. He just asked them to stop following HIM and photographing HIM.

    And no. He is not unusual looking in any way. But for whatever reason he didn’t appreciate the attention.

    The attitude that someone else exists to serve another persons purposes or pleasure is a crappy one. “Art” is not an excuse to treat someone as if your desires for their person are more valid than their own desires for themselves. We see this attitude reflected in the posts of LRH, who feels that they have a right to photograph anyone they want and that it’s appropriate to “cleverly” call someone’s child ugly if a parent asks them not to photograph their child. (Guess what, other people do not exist to support your art.”) Legal rights are not an excuse for this kind of behavior either. We live together. In a society.

    People have a right to make choices for themselves, period. Whether this involves whether or not they let their 9 year old go to a park alone or whether they do not want to be photographed, I maintain that principle stands (and doe not need Warren’s approval).

    Poo-pooing peoples choices for themselves in inappropriate. Nobody else needs to agree, approve, or understand. They just need to acknowledge that other people have agency over themselves.

    As for the face stomping– honestly, it’s not worth discussing. It NEVER happens and no one has claimed that it was a justifiable response. Discussions about the balance between the “letter of the law” rights and what actually makes sense in society is a much more sentient and worthwhile conversation.

  63. Donna July 28, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    “Taking pics of people who are not part of the tourist attraction (meaning a guard, someone dressed up in traditional garb, etc) is weird.”

    Where exactly do you vacation, Dirk? Antarctica?

    I can’t think of a single vacation I’ve taken where it was even possible to take a picture of a major tourist attraction without strangers in the picture. I suppose if I got up at 2am I may be able to take a picture of the Spanish Steps without people sitting on them or Trevi Fountain without other people throwing in coins, but I’m not that dedicated to being unweird by Dirk’s definition.

    I actually didn’t think it was weird at all that Korean tourists (they appeared Korean anyway) took pictures of my kid in a banyan tree. The tree was cool, but a cute kid sitting in a cool tree is a much more interesting picture to many than just a tree, even if you don’t know the kid.

  64. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    Donna, if the stranger is in the shot…fine…if the stranger IS the shot and has no reason to be (like taking a picture of someone else’s wife while you are at disneyland–as opposed to taking a picture of the magic castle that just happens to have a stranger standing in the shot)…that is weird.

  65. Donna July 28, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    CF –

    I agree with you about individual photographs. People should be respectful of the wishes of others.

    My beef was with the insistence that THIS photographer had some social obligation to remove THESE pictures because the mother requested and the failure to do so was rude. Yet, we have no idea what these pictures even were, so that implies some belief that it is ALWAYS okay to ask people delete any picture in which you appear, despite how incidental to the picture you are. I think that is a very self-absorbed way to look at the world.

  66. K2 July 28, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Not sure what the law says about this, but I think the student would have done better to ask permission before taking the pics and then offering to email them to the mother. The mother then benefits too and has a reason to allow it.

    Pics can be used for a lot of purposes, both legal and moral and immoral. Many identity thieves use their handy cell phone to take pics of debit cards etc.. I don’t see any reason why it is wrong for parents to want to know who and why pics are being taken of children.

  67. Donna July 28, 2014 at 11:36 am #


    How do you capture the culture of a place without photographing the locals doing what they normally do? Me posing as though I am carrying pineapple to market is a stupid picture and a mocking of the culture. A Samoan carrying pineapple to market is a beautiful picture that captures real life in Samoa.

  68. Mandy July 28, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    In my experience, the couple of times someone in public didn’t want his picture taken, he made eye contact and very deliberately turned away. Had I continued to take pics, that would have been weird, and rude, but not illegal.

    Something to consider, especially in the context of this story, is that the pricey wedding photographer who is in such high demand because of the “natural” photos she takes has to learn to get those candids somehow. Usually it’s by taking pics of strangers. In my photo classes we often had assignments to do street photography.

  69. Mandy July 28, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Just to be clear, I’m not advocating “stalking” a kid the way CF describes. That sounds really obnoxious. We all have a responsibility to be civil and respectful of one another; why be a jerk?

  70. E July 28, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    @LRH, that’s the point…people have a myriad of reasons to not want their photos taken – including things you & I might be able to relate to. Yes, they can decide to become hermits and never see the light of day, or they can ask the person who they believe took the photo to remove it. And yes, it’s up to the photog to decide if they will. You can judge the person as being in need of therapy or a whackadoodle, and I can judge you as a jackass for not being kind enough to do so.

    Again, if the McDs mom story went more like “I was a little worried the person taking photos of my daughter alone was going to turn them into police so I asked the remove the photos from their card” the reaction here would be completely different. In fact, if that Mom posted here and posted that…everyone would say “I don’t blame you”.

    So we don’t know why she demanded they be removed…was it stranger paranoia? were her children uncomfortable and asked her to ask them to stop? was she afraid it was related to a legal/custody/whatever situation?

  71. E July 28, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    Correcting my @LRH response:

    including things you & I might NOT be able to relate to

  72. EricS July 28, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    Donna took the words right out of my mouth. 😉

    I’ll also add, that there is also a very good possibility that the student was taking a general picture of a scene. With MANY subjects in the shot, including children. Not just the assailants children.

    People are caught on surveillance cameras all the time, yet no one thinks about suing this places, or demanding them to erase the videos. It’s the same principal. Again, more proof how the world lacks the ability to use common sense, and their lives are driven by fear, based on what they hear and read from any source. Some possibly reliable, but most from like minded people like her.

    I’ve always had an issue with people reporting parents for “neglect”, and getting arrested. When it’s clearly not the “neglect”. But this one, I think (I hope) justice will be served. This assailant seems to be a very aggressive and abusive person. It wouldn’t surprise me if she took her anger out on her kids too. She deserves what she gets. And her children will probably be better off. Imagine them learning from this woman, and growing up just like her. We don’t need anymore criminals in this world.

  73. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Hi Donna, I think I might have oversold my annoyance at the tourists we encounter in the city. Of course people are going to be in the shot and maybe even part of the shot. But what I am talking about is the equivalent to taking a picture of another tourist at Disneyland on purpose. If I was in line for space mountain and a dude stopped to take my specific picture in line (as opposed to pictures of his own family in line where I just happened to be in the shot or just of space mountain in general) that would be weird. I wouldn’t care that much but it would indeed be weird. I am not part of the local scene. I am not against people taking pictures of things that I am part of. Or tourists taking pictures in general. But there is a disconnect here between taking pictures of an environment and taking pictures of things that aren’t your business. There was never a time when taking pictures that have nothing to do with you was ok. That is false nostalgia. I am ok with people taking a snap shot of a local that includes whoever almost 100% of the time. (But my specific complaint of people taking pictures of my kids through an ice cream shop window is valid, it is none of their damn business.) I am not doing anything exotic or memorable by standing in line at space mountain. No pineapples.

    I, and a virtual 100% of the public, have literally no problems with people taking shots of street photography or of where they are. But the nature of how photography has changed and the nature of digital as opposed to film photography has changed the nature of what pictures are and how they are used. In the past every picture mattered. Film stock meant you truly wanted the picture. And pictures where taken with purpose. And now in the digital age that idea is only enhanced by the ease in which these moments are shared. Communication through pictures on facebook, tumblr, instagram, has only enhanced their personal value. How do I say this…the pictures mean more?

    Photo bans are stupid and I haven’t encountered them. I have encountered young parents that are protective of pictures of their family (for reasons such this: Others plaster their facebook pages with pics of everything their kids do.

    But I know that even in the past, when strangers where clearly the focal point of a persons photograph it was as much an issue then as it is now. Think of it this way. Circa a hundred years ago a picture was a miracle itself. You had to stand really still to get someone on camera. I know that street photographers would approach people on the street and try and sell them copies of their pictures in the 30s through the 50s. But then as cameras got cheaper and instant film was developed in the 80s the interaction between street photographer decreased. Pocket cameras and phone cameras pretty much killed the novelty of picture taking. It became far less exotic but far more personal.

    If you don’t believe this that is fine. But truly think about this part, there is a clear disconnect between generations and different level of tech users on how they view these things coupled with a complete hazy nostalgia view of the past that complicates what EVERYONE expects.

  74. Warren July 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    You are as usual comparing apples to oranges. There is a big difference between telling a mentally unstable, anti-social person in your community, like SOA, to stay away from your family, and some photographer snapping shots in the park.

    One is a threat, and the pics are not.

    If you have some actual risk in your life that is photo sensitive………..then the responsibility is on you to avoid having your picture taken. It is not the responsibilty or the obligation of the photographer. Stop making other’s responsible for you, grow up.
    If you are paranoid about someone using those pics for perverted reasons or whatever, stay home, call a therapist and book an appointment immediately.
    Hate to break it to all of you against the photo takers……..YOU ARE NOT THAT DAMN SPECIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  75. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Let be a little shorter and clearer.

    I and most people have no problems with people taking shots of things that include people. Buildings, locals, people who expect to have their pictures taken (parades, etc), or of people who are in the shots of photos being taken of other people or of groups (kids soccer games, your kid going down the slide). I and most people I know do think it would be “weird” to take pictures of strangers for no reason other than to have a picture of the stranger (meaning a strangers soccer game, a strangers kid going down the slide, a strangers kid at halloween even. Meaning a dude standing in line at space mountain. Or a random family eating a picnic in the park). While you have no expectation of privacy in public there are clearly things that are meant to be private or limited to a certain group and invading that privacy while not illegal or threatening or scary in anyway, it is off putting…AKA “weird.”

  76. Dhewco July 28, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    I used to work in a store that sold cameras. I would take ‘secret’ pictures of my customers (any age, but usually the kids practicing using the cameras, playing with toys, etc.) I had to do it in secret because I knew how people would freak at a man practicing his photography. Also, the commenters who say that people who know they’re being photograph tend to ruin the shot.

    One example, there was a kid (about 12) focused hard on a electrical board kit…really studying it and knew I just had to have a picture of it. (The kid wasn’t all that cute, but the intensity of expression was awesome. However, as soon as I raised my camera, the kid noticed, blushed and put the board away and I lost my shot. People who truly love photographing people know what I am talking about when I say perversion or ‘creepiness’ isn’t the only reason to take a photo.

    There are expressions and attitudes that people have that even the best actors can’t fake. Situations that even the best writers can’t plan or predict.

    Anyway, my two cents.

  77. Dhewco July 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Dang, I wish this area had an edit feature, lol.

  78. EricS July 28, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    @LRH: Spot on! And that is what I call “old school” mentality. The mentality that most people had before the internet.

    As I’ve said in the past, it is no coincidence in the paranoid thinking of many today rising, at the same time that the internet, and online social media was growing in popularity.

    I used to take pictures all the time. Kids, adults, dogs, structures, nature, etc… And always candid shots. Capturing the moment if you will. This was back in the early 90s, just before the internet, and long before digital cameras. The one thing I always did, was to observe people. Back then, people didn’t freak out about having their pictures taken, they just walked away from your shot. Having observe this, I would make a mental note not to take pictures of those people. And if I really wanted to take a picture of a group of kids, and noticed some parents looked a little skeptic. I would approach them and let them know what I was doing. Most would feel at ease once I did. The very few would just walk away with their kids, or the other parents would coax them to “lighten up”. Most didn’t even think twice about me taking pics, and carried on with their activities. Sometimes I would even offer to send them the pics once they were developed, if they wanted them. I actually met one of my girlfriends that way.

  79. Lea July 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    I have a very hard view on this issue. I’m inflexible on the topic. I’m tired of people assuming they have an entitlement to both privacy and to control their image (or child’s) while in public.

    I have four kids. I have never expected people not to take pictures of them.I have one of those crazy Exs as well. I lived in fear of him finding us for awhile. it meant I declined to sign releases for my child’s picture to be used in advertising and publications. Not once did it occur to me to stop pictures from being taken, by anyone.

    I have been in love with photography, since the age of seven when I was given my first camera. I have decades of pictures of people, I haven’t a clue who they are. They made great photos though. As a child I posed for random pictures taken by strangers, neighbors, sort of known people like the lady who always gave out popcorn ball on Halloween two blocks over and friends. Photos tell a story, they are both art and history.

    It is not polite to ask a photographer to remove photos. It wasn’t polite prior to digital (when we dealt with film and it was impossible) and it didn’t suddenly become polite just because it became possible with digital. It’s not polite because you don’t own your image or the image of your children. You have no expectation of privacy while in public and to ask for it would be impolite. If a person is going to be impolite and ask someone for the favor of not taking a picture or removing a picture they took, they should be both apologetic and have a very good reason for doing so. A reason such as my child is in foster care an I’m suppose to make sure unauthorized photos aren’t taken of them (a rather impossible goal, which most foster programs don’t have). They should also be willing to accept no as the answer, even if they don’t like the answer.

    This fear of photographers is both mind boggling and ludicrous. the concept that anyone is ever justified in telling someone to remove their image and that the photographer is rude to take it or not remove it or should expect people to be upset or angry because they took it…..that’s both wrong and ludicrous. Photographers are not pedophiles. They are simply photo enthusiasts. They are historians. Where would so much of the last 100 years history be without photos, including those with unknown children in them?

    Since cameras were invented, people have always taken photos of children (ones they know and don’t know). It isn’t a new thing and it isn’t a bad thing. People’s paranoia over it and actions towards it are both new and bad things.

    Again everyone, even most people, with a camera are not perverts seeking out your child.

  80. LRH July 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    K2 The whole entire point of street photography is you DON’T ask permission, because posed shots are not seen as “natural” or “authentic.”

    And no one is “using someone” when they take their photo, especially in a non-aggressive manner–please, that’s just a bunch of nonsense. “It may be to you,” you say–no, it is to someone with a BRAIN, to be quite blunt. Another’s delusional attitude isn’t my fault, especially if I’m not walking all over it so m uch, and such things aren’t supposed to be respected, they’re supposed to be CURED and FIXED. Go fix yourself already, if necessary.

    Photographers don’t do this to try and USE someone or to be obnoxious, it’s about appreciating the beauty of what’s around you and trying to express it artistically, and it’s a COMPLIMENT when someone sees someone or something and considers it something beautiful and majestic enough to be worth immortalizing in an art form. A photograph doesn’t steal your soul, or your brain, that’s just silly. It would be one thing if the subject was being aggressively stalked or followed aggressively or even in a sneaky manner that’s nonetheless obvious, but otherwise, it’s nothing to get so worked up over. Get an education already.

    If it bothers you so much, sorry, but that’s YOUR problem, and it is a PROBLEM. It’s not an “opinion,” some opinions are STUPID and should be said to be STUPID, and that’s one of them. It’s a PROBLEM you need to fix. And again, I am referring to situations where the photographer is NOT being up all in someone’s business getting in their face and hovering all over them, but rather situations where they’re discreet and easy-going and “blending in” as it were as much as they can. They’re trying to be as invisible as the oxygen, and just as harmless. They have no interest in causing a scene or making someone feel uncomfortable.

    It’s not about being “sneaky,” because sneakiness is about doing something where you’re up to no good and getting away with it, and there is no such element present here.

  81. E July 28, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    I’ve seen some interesting comments here, but this takes the cake:

    “If it bothers you so much, sorry, but that’s YOUR problem, and it is a PROBLEM. It’s not an “opinion,” some opinions are STUPID and should be said to be STUPID, and that’s one of them. It’s a PROBLEM you need to fix.”

    This is so rich I don’t even know where to start. LOLOLOL.

    First off, just in case we need it, here is the definition of Opinion: “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.”

    So, we’ve established the fact that an opinion is NOT, in fact…a fact! LOL

    And you can’t even decide if it an opinion or not…but I’ll help you out. It IS your opinion and therefore there might be people that hold an alternate viewpoint.

    Sometimes I realize that people must lead charmed lives. Where you never have a bad day, you never have an unpleasant life experience, you never have to worry about who is looking over your shoulder, you never just need someone to cut you a break, you never have benefited from someone else’s grace…and therefore don’t need to extend any yourself. In fact (yes fact), some of the people that are featured here that are ALWAYS being extended grace and compassion by the readership.

    I just hope the people that have charmed lives realize it as they look down their noses at those that don’t.

  82. LRH July 28, 2014 at 12:45 pm #


    Lea That is exactly right, and congratulations for wording it in a less “talk show heated” style of wording as I can do if I’m not careful.

    It is as you said, I love looking at old photos of beach-life, street life, life wherever, and seeing these faces whom you don’t know, and all the thoughts that run through your head. I can’t look at a photo of an attractive woman taken in the 1930s without thinking of the fact that this woman is now very old and no longer attractive in that way, or she may well be deceased–and yet, during that time, wow, she was amazing to behold. You see photos of children playing in the street and realize those children are now grown, or even grandparents etc. It stirs up heavy and beautiful thoughts in your soul.

    Posed photographs can do that too, to a lesser extent, but typically it’s not the same. There is something “genuine” about photos that aren’t posed. They come across as authentic and true, and real, as opposed to being some sort of an act.

    As you and EricS said–just because we now have digital is no reason for people to all of a sudden start freaking out about what I call the 3 Ps (pervert, pornographers, and pedophiles) or even just “you’re stealing my child’s image for your own sick gain.” Get real, no one is stealing anything.

    The only time that I know of that use of an “image” or the like is a true legal issue is if, say, you use the image or a “likeness” of Christian Bale to promote a product, because someone like him is a public and famous figure and you are profiteering in the MILLIONS from that and you are implying that he has in some way participated it or endorsed himself what you are selling or promoting. None of that is the case in street photography, and yet, we have the whole model release system to cover situations where one would profit financially from another.

    This, though, is something else already, and it’s just silly.

    Time to step away from the computer for awhile.

  83. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Maybe the idea that you do own the image came from the internet. That the pictures are mine because they are on my facebook page. The idea of stolen images would have been very confusing to a person in 1950.

    My viewpoint is that I don’t understand why anyone would want a picture of me at all, since I have no connection to you what-so-ever. My viewpoint is that if you have a connection to an event, a graduation, a youth sporting event, etc is that you would want pictures of the people you are sharing that connection with. If you don’t have a person who is graduating and are not part of the graduation why do you need a photo? If you are not somehow connected to the youths playing the sport why do you need a photo? If you are on vacation with your family why do you want a picture me on vacation? Taking a picture of a local character is one thing. I get it. But I don’t agree with the glossy nostalgic memory haze that taking pictures of strangers or their kids was always considered super ok.

    But I basically agree with RLH despite thinking all that.

  84. LRH July 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Oops, sorry, had to do this quickly:

    “And you can’t even decide if it an opinion or not…but I’ll help you out. It IS your opinion and therefore there might be people that hold an alternate viewpoint.”

    Yes, but that doesn’t mean their opinion isn’t STUPID, because to me it is. As Lea said, I am the same–I’m inflexible on this, because I’m tired of these dumb-witted idiotic brainless neurotic, psychotic, hollow-between the ears, filled with a bunch of psychotic delusions, absolute MORONS running around like a bunch Chicken Littles on speed freaking out over something as silly as an IMAGE. (Yes fine, I resorted to name-calling). It’s stupid and it deserves to be called stupid. It is based not just on a difference of opinion but on flat-out ignorance. Yes–people who have a problem with an image are being ridiculous and they’re ignorant.

    And, thank goodness, the law is on our side. So GET OVER IT or LIVE IN A CAVE or go join the Amish already. Quit taking something beautiful and corrupting it. You step out into the world, there will be street photographers, especially in large “interesting” cities like New York, Seattle, Paris etc. If they’re up all in your face clicking away like the paparazzi, then I get the point–otherwise, yes, you’re nuts. If it bothers you so much, do like me and get 40-50 acres all to yourself and set photography rules on your own property. You can do that all day long, but in the park–oh well.

  85. Dirk July 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    I think was Louie CK or Dennis Leary who had a bit about pedophiles at the beach. His statement as I remember it was something like maybe there is one maybe there isn’t. Nothings going to happen so don’t live in fear about it.

  86. Christina July 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I have never understood why I am supposed to care if my kids end up in someone’s photo.

  87. Bernard July 28, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    At this stage of the game, this isn’t about “taking photos” anymore. At every turn, our worlds have become emotionally stupid and intellectually dazed. No. Taking photos of children is not the issue. It’s simply one more nail in our democratic coffins.

    And as I would rather be accused of being paranoid than ignorant, I’ll say it directly : The masses (of which we are a minuscule part) are much easier to control when made to be anxious and afraid. Even better, when we are, we easily and even eagerly transmit this disease of anxieties and fears to our offspring – making them even more cowering than we are.

    Me thinks we’ve all gone beyond our best before date.

  88. E July 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    @LRH — wow, you’re a real gem. I’m glad to know that you are guided by the law and only the law — that you have no other principles by which you apply in decision making. Congratulations?

    FTR, no one is suggesting people shouldn’t TAKE photos that include other people. People are suggesting that you be nice and delete them if asked. Period.

  89. E July 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    @Christina – who here has suggested you should be afraid? It’s not part of the news story (we don’t know WHY they Mom confronted the photog, only that she did).

  90. E July 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    @Bernard…what nail in our democratic coffin? Is it illegal to take a photo in public? Nope. Is it illegal to be asked to remove it? Nope. Did the photographer get any fallout from her actions? Nope, in fact they weren’t even named in the news item. Did an attacker get charged with a crime? Yup.

    What am I missing?

  91. Warren July 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Nobody said you cannot ask them to stop. But since it is within the law to do so, they do not have to stop.

    And there is nothing you can do about it.

    Just because you do not understand why someone would do it, does not mean you can deny them the right to do it.

    Are people that fragile that someone taking their picture is trauma. Suck it up, and get over it. Or stay home.

    Hell I want to go buy an expensive camera, travel to all your towns just to screw with your heads. Now that would be real fun.

  92. Buffy July 28, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    From Christina: I have never understood why I am supposed to care if my kids end up in someone’s photo.”

    I echo Christina. In terms idiots like us can understand, those of you on this site who think that it’s terrible that your child be photographed and if it happens you will go up to the photographer and ask them to delete any photos of your child….WHY? WHAT is going to happen to your child if they are, inadvertently or not, included in a “Kids at Play” photo essay, for example, or a newspaper’s file photo of a splash park, or.. .whatever? What is the detriment to your child?

    And don’t just say “privacy”. Explain how anyone who sees this photo in the paper, on the news, on Facebook, etc. is going to become so enamoured of your child that they will move heaven and earth to track him/her down. Explain how your privacy is violated any more so than closed circuit cameras in stores, businesses, and city streets, when we don’t even know who is looking at those.

  93. E July 28, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    @Buffy — I don’t think anyone *here* is saying they think it’s terrible or are afraid. But I’m not going to project my viewpoint on someone else’s life experience. I take lots of photos….I take a lot of photos of High School activities. Only once was I asked to remove a photo from the online gallery I posted…and I did it, no questions asked.

    I happened to have a sibling who doesn’t even like her own family to take her photo (and we don’t, even at family gatherings). Is it her hang up? Yup. Should she have to go spend 1000s of dollars to resolve it in therapy, or can she just request that people not take her picture? I’d say she’s lived into her 50s managing the latter way just fine. And if someone was going to be a prick and refuse, well it’s pretty crappy.

    I already gave an example about the McDs mom and the kid sitting alone all day? Can you understand that she might be afraid of it being submitted to CPS? Perhaps this person was afraid of the same thing or something similar? Would it be understandable that she would wonder why the photo was being taken?

    As far as the “general paranoia”. Well those are the same people who worry about everything that’s critiqued here — they have bought into the inundation of news items that portend to “keep us safe”. In all of those cases something that “could” happen (abduction, pedos posting/enjoying photos somewhere) is covered as if it’s likely….even if they aren’t likely. But we all know that already.

  94. CF July 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    It seems to me that if LRH were such a fantastic street photographer who was making a significant contribution to the art form then LRH would already own a nice long lens. This long lens would allow for discreet, spontaneous photography that most people would not even be aware of. Part of getting spontaneous shots involves making yourself, the photographer, invisible. From the number of conflicts LRH describes in this thread this nay be an area of LRH’s photography skills that could use some work. If they see you and feel awkward, you blew it.

    For some people it’s about not wanting their photo to be in the hands / control of a stranger. This is legit. Their life, their choice. They don’t need your approval.

    For others it’s just that it’s annoying, obnoxious, and awkward to have someone staring at you, focusing on you, flashbulbing you, and following you. It can take a person out of the moment and it can impede a persons ability to enjoy the event for the event’s sake. So back off and let them enjoy their day their way. Their life, their choice. They don’t need your approval.

    I often get the feeling that free range gets interpreted in these comments as being the equivalent of being a rude, judgmental ass. I define it as being much more linked to allowing children a sense of agency and equipping them to function independently, capably, and peaceably in the world.

    Ya wanna rip on helicopter parents and then start a crusade for the rights of helicopter photographers? I just don’t get it.

  95. Warren July 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Really, “in the hands/control of a stranger”?

    Having your pic taken can ruin your moment?

    Talk about fragile. Honestly if this is your view, you really need to seek help for your paranoia, control issues and insecurities.

    How weak must you be to be that messed up by someone taking your picture?

  96. Rachael July 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    And just who was watching and keeping her children safe while she was beating up this student?
    Not to mention the psychological damage from watching your mom beat up a complete stranger and whatever legal issues will follow.

  97. LRH July 28, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    CFFor some people it’s about not wanting their photo to be in the hands / control of a stranger. This is legit. Their life, their choice. They don’t need your approval.

    And they’re being delusional. “Their photo to be in the hands of a stranger”–um, it’s NOT their photo just because they’re in it. It’s a photo OF them. It is not THEM, it is a photo OF them, and it’s not theirs. It’s the property of the one who took it. No one is stealing anything, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a wackadoodle and an idiot, frankly.

    And the photographer does not need “approval” to take that photo. As for long lenses, well many will tell you that actually the best results comes from closer-range than what a long lens would give you, and besides that, many people have a more “creepy” response to the sight of a long lens on top of that. So there you have it.

    “If they see you and feel awkward, you blew it”–maybe if my job was as a therapist, but it’s not. Some people need no excuse to CHOOSE and DECIDE to be paranoid. That’s their problem.


  98. E July 28, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    @ Rachael , and you are projecting the reason WHY she was objecting.

    For we know she could have been:
    -yes, a paranoid parent worried about pervs
    -responding to request from her kid to ask them to stop
    -in some sort of legal situation that made her a bit worried
    -with her paramour and afraid this was a PI, lol (don’t laugh, my sister in law got contacted by one after her husband was ID’d as the lover of the hiring guy’s wife)
    -some other reason I haven’t thought of

    Of course her behavior was criminal and inexcusable and yes, it probably is going to cause her issues with her kids. But we still don’t know WHY she objected to begin with.

  99. E July 28, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Heh – the “best results” for what??? Portraits? Action photos? Capturing a scene without the subjects being influenced by your presence? Don’t you have to know the goal of the photographer before you can say what was the best choice?

    She could have been trying to emulate a photojournalist or her assignment could have been back lit portraits or she could have gone to the water play park to capture moving water in different states with different settings. Who the heck knows.

  100. Warren July 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    All those afraid to have a stranger take a photo of them… can all relax now.

    This is the digital age, no more film. And we all know it was only images captured on film that actually stole your or part of your soul. That does not happen with a digital pic, so you can all relax, your souls remain intact and safe.

  101. Red July 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    @Warren: quite a few photographers are actually returning to film. My sister and father are both hobbyists, and they’ve both returned to film in the past two years (after investing thousands of dollars in digital technology) as have quite a few of the other hobbyists they hang out with.

    Which makes this even more interesting … my sister and dad are both the type of people who always have their cameras on them, and will simply stop, pull out the camera, and take a random photograph. What will all these people demanding photos be deleted do when they realize that the camera is film?

  102. Donald July 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    Parents are role models for their children. Is she dedicated to protection or teaching her child to afraid of their own shadow?

    “Mommy when I grow up I want to be as paranoid as you.”

  103. Donald July 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    We all have visions of our childhood that’s that we can recall. 50 years from now, that child will remember the day that her mother stomped on a photographers face!

  104. hineata July 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    @Dirk – no, a majority of people don’t find it weird to take photographs of strangers. A majority of people wouldn’t give a hoot.

    See, I can make up gross generalisations too….I have no idea either way, and neither do you. You personally find it weird that some people like to take photos of strangers, I personally do not find it weird. Neither of us is a ‘majority’.

    @Warren – are you sure about the soul thing? Because I’m sure I’ve seen little bits of ectoplasm floating around in my hisband’s more recent shots, some of which contain complete strangers. Though it has been a while since he cleaned the lense…..

  105. Donna July 28, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Dirk, Artistic shots of strangers have been around as long as there have been cameras. That SOME people don’t want to be the subject of said photographs has also likely been true since the dawn of cameras. Your insistence that because some people have always complained, it is weird and unacceptable has absolutely no basis in reality.

    Further there is a difference between an unusual life happening that I don’t quite understand and disturbing/unacceptable. I would find it odd if some stranger wanted to take a random picture of me, but only because I can accept the reality that I am not stunningly gorgeous or particularly photogenic so I would wonder why someone would choose to take a picture of me out of all the people around. It isn’t disturbing. It isn’t unheard of even in my life; it’s happened a few times. It is simply an unusual occurrence in my life that I don’t quite understand.

    Just because it is something that you don’t want to do doesn’t actually make it unacceptable. It just makes it something that you don’t want to do.

  106. Jessica July 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    If you are in public beware you may be *gasp* photographed. It is the way photojournalists get photographs. It is perfectly legal…has she ever heard of papparazi? I think this is more than a case of paranoia, it is a case of rage. The woman has issues and I choose to believe this is a very isolated case of assault and does not represent the average parent.

  107. CF July 28, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Honestly, my paranoia about the world actually increases when I visit this site because it reminds me how self centered and rude people are capable of being.

    I’m sure those I’m referring to might make some snarky reply … Have at it if that’s your bag.

    But what I’ve observed is that most people in the world are pretty nice, and the few seem to feel the need to flex nuts online. This blog could be an exception, but it just isn’t.

    I appreciate those who contribute to a thoughtful conversation. Some great points are made here and people have made me reconsider ideas and stretch my thinking, but the constant bs from Warren, etc. whose only real way of contributing is to insult anyone different from themselves really has nothing to do with free range. (And honestly, neither do stories like this one which highlight a situation that is a sensationalized outlier of an incident.)

    Too bad. A legit free range resource / discussion group would have been great.

    See ya.

  108. Warren July 28, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    You actually believe that it is a normal sane reaction to have your moment ruined, or whatever, because someone took your picture?

    Your words to have in hand/control, are those of someone that is paranoid. Sorry that you cannot handle being called on it.

    Shhhhhhhhhhhh, I know, but now the paranoid parents are really gonna go off the deep end.

  109. Red July 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    ” I can accept the reality that I am not stunningly gorgeous or particularly photogenic so I would wonder why someone would choose to take a picture of me out of all the people around.”

    Because you are not stunning gorgeous or particularly photogenic. There are photographers who take those pictures, and there are photographers who prefer reality.

  110. Donald July 29, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    Taking a photograph of a seascape is beautiful
    Taking a photograph of a creak in a forest is beautiful
    Taking a photograph of children playing, smiling, and laughing is beautiful.

    Only on CSI episodes do people prepare a menu for child snatchorama or use the pics to masturbate.

    I think it’s far more damaging to teach children that this is such an evil world that they are in danger at all times.

  111. SOA July 29, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    I agree some people tend to think free range equals don’t have to follow etiquette rules and that I cannot get behind.

    I want my kids to be able to play freely but not if it infringes on other people’s rights. So they are allowed to play out in my yard all they want unsupervised but that does not mean I am going to think it is okay for them to trample all over my neighbor’s property all the time in their pursuit of free play. No, you still have to follow basic courtesy rules.

  112. anonymous mom July 29, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    I think there may also be a generation gap at work here. The idea that it’s rude to take somebody’s picture without their permission may not be one that 20-something college students have. I know a lot of parents in their 30s and 40s who are extremely, extremely paranoid about their children’s pictures being taken–for no real reason, other than that they got caught up in certain types of internet-based hysteria and seem to think that all sorts of totally imaginary dangers lurk there–but I don’t know many college-aged people who think twice about either taking a picture or having it taken. Having grown up in an age where everything is documented and uploaded, I’m not sure it would occur to them that having your picture taken would be either an invasion of privacy or a potential threat.

    I have two friends who run an art gallery/cafe, and they get a lot of both people with kids and college students. I’ve had my kids there many times when some of the students, who are already taking pictures of things, snap a picture or two of my kids. Once I was there and a group of about eight guys on a mission trip to our city came in, hung out with my kids in the playroom for an hour or so, and took a bunch of selfies with them. This was a few months ago, and I actually just saw some of the pictures show up on another friend’s FB feed the other day. I was glad: it was fun to see the pics. Point is, none of these young adults felt they were doing anything invasive or wrong. They live in a documentary culture, where snapping pictures of what you are doing and sharing them via social media is normal. We can believe that’s wrong all we want, and I’m not saying it’s ideal, but it doesn’t change the fact that that’s reality for many young people today, and so they simply don’t share the fears older people have about either privacy or the dangers lurking on the internet.

    So, it wouldn’t surprise me if the college student in question, even if she had been directly, intentionally using the children as her main subject, had absolutely no idea she was doing something that the mom might consider wrong or dangerous. Hell, it was over 15 years ago, well before smartphone cams and social media, and when I went on a summer service trip to Costa Rica in college, I was snapping pictures of places, people, and things–including the children, who made great subjects–left and right, without a single thought. (And, nobody beat me up.) So some of what we’re seeing as horrible rudeness may just be generational differences.

  113. E July 29, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Yeah, it’s kind of a strange dynamic at play.

    On one hand (as I’ve said) I have no issue with photography like this. At the same time, I have no issue with someone, for reasons I don’t understand or don’t even know, asking me (or anyone) to delete photos of them or their children. They aren’t the govt demanding I do it, they aren’t anything other than another individual asking me to remove the images of them.

    There is so much talk about knowing what’s best for our own families, knowing what works and what doesn’t, etc. I’m struggling to understand why a complete stranger (the photographer) would decide the THEY should be decision maker in regard to images of someone’s kids in the event they are asked to remove them. OF COURSE, there is a OVERWHELMINGLY MINUSCULE chance the photos would ever end up used in a fashion that is wrong, hurtful, illegal manner, but you know, it’s just a nice thing to do. End of story.

    Anyway – this is getting repetitive.

    Let’s just remember, if the standard of behavior is “it’s not illegal” then life could get pretty unpleasant. In fact, it sounds like something a teenager would say and drive parents insane, lol.

    And again, when the next story about someone calling 911 or CPS about a situation rather than talking to the parent….it’s not illegal to do so. :)

    Sometimes this forum seems like a bunch of ‘group think’ which I thought was the anti-FR attitude.

  114. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    I just asked an actual street photographer his opinions and this is what he said via email…”I think that the public’s awareness to people slamming websites such at People of Wal-mart, or other similar groups like the Creepshots controversy don’t help ease people’s paranoia. I’ve experience it first hand…Everyone having some wort of camera on them probably changes the dynamic more than in in 50s where I’m assuming only really dedicated artists or creeps had them….”

    Just to say, again, I don’t think people shouldn’t be able to take pics in public that have strangers in the shots, or even take pictures of a local character. But specifically taking a picture of someone you don’t is indeed weird. I have no interest in pictures of strangers I have no connection with, but also it is uncommon.

  115. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    And just to be clear creeps and perverts don’t have to take pics of your kids to do their disgusting stuff. It already exits elsewhere. Proverbially 99.9% of child pornography exists without candid shot taking place out in public. There is no safety issue here.

    In fact I don’t think there is really an issue at all. Although yes, parents are crazy paranoid about people taking their kids pics these days. But most just get annoyed by it.

    I am not crazy paranoid about people taking my kids pictures. I just have zero interest in pictures of people I don’t know or have any connection to what-so-ever because there is clearly a difference between a picture of the guy who runs the train at disneyworld and a guy who is waiting in line for the train at disneyworld. One is part of something I am experiencing, disneyworld, one is just some random dude who is not actually part of disneyworld.

    I find the attitude of “man that kid is really cute, I don’t know him but I want to take a picture so I can remember how cute this kid I don’t know is” to be weird. Believe what you want but most people don’t think that way. Although like I have been saying there is clearly huge generational gaps at play here.

  116. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Hey E. Check this out!

  117. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    I agree with you anonymous mom (your Tue Jul 29th 2014 at 9:19 am comment). But I do have a caveat. It sounds like the pictures you are saying you enjoyed and saw on FB, people knew that the pictures were being taken and had a tacit/implied ability to say no. Is that right? That sounds like it is part of the (very fluid and convoluted) math that goes on and changes from generation to generation.

  118. Buffy July 29, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    So Dirk, you just ignore all photos in the newspaper or magazines because you have no connection to the people in them? Even if you’re interested in the topic being illustrated?

  119. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Buffy, my “connection” to pictures in books and magazines is the same my connection to baseball players on the field or actors on tv. I am doing something that involves being a spectator or in the case of newspapers and books and magazines I am reading about something. I have a couple of saved newspapers one is from my grandfather that is from when kennedy was killed, and the other is one I saved when the soviet union fell. I also have a rolling stone with framed with pink floyd on the cover. The analogy you are making is bad.

  120. LRH July 29, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    We are asked, via E, “I’m struggling to understand why a complete stranger (the photographer) would decide the THEY should be decision maker in regard to images of someone’s kids in the event they are asked to remove them.” It’s because the images belong to the photographer, they took them, and because it’s not going to hurt anything, as you well acknowledge.

    It’s because, even though in general I agree with the idea of respecting how another feels regardless of what you think of it, there are exceptions, because there are some notions that are so silly and ridiculous that they don’t deserve respecting, and this is one of them. It’s because, as much as I respect parental sovereignity, there are exceptions, there are times where parents are being blatant control freaks and think their children & their concerns should override everything else in society, like the “Baby On Board” signs demanding that everyone has to drive slower than a glacier even on roads with 70 mph speed limits because “I have a child.” This is one of those times.

    I am going to say it–you SHOULDN’T be able to decide what happens to images of your children, because they may be your children, but those images aren’t yours, and those images just aren’t going to hurt anything–but asking them to be taken out of circulation will, especially when there are more nut-jobs emerging with that nut-job type of thinking (in fact, I think calling it “thinking” is to give it more credit than it deserves) and it threatens to forward the mind-warping notion that every single photo taken practically has to have an act of Congress for it to be allowed.

    THe difference between deciding how much freedom your child has in terms of unsupervised play vs images is that former absoultely affects their childhood and your actual authority to let them have a childhood and be the top authority on your child’s life. The latter doesn’t affect a family at all, that pictures happen to exist of a family doesn’t harm them, and they just need to believe it and to accept the reality that street photography isn’t obligated to stop just because you managed to bring a child into the world. Photographers asserting their rights isn’t harming anybody or limiting anybody’s freedoms, but when you try to be a control freak about images, you are threatening street photography and trying to change the entire world just because you have a phobia that isn’t normal.

    If I, as a hobbyist photographer, start running into this with this level of frequency, I start no longer feeling free to be the photographer I am legally allowed to be, an activity which isn’t rude done discreetly as I try to, because of a “chilling” atmosphere bought on by hysteria. Basically, I”m having to dumb down my totally legitimate and harmless activity due to ignorance, when I know better. Pardon me if I sound stuck-up, but I firmly believe I am smarter than people who believe in this nonsense about being able to own their image to this extreme, at least with respect to this thinking.

    Yes, I will say it as often as I apparently need to–some feelings don’t deserve respect. If photos bother you, you’re being an idiot. Yes, you are being an absolute IDIOT. I am not going to let a bunch of IDIOTS ruin something that is absolutely nothing but beautiful, sweet, innocent and harmless. Get over your phobia and stop trying to interfere in what I have the right to do and what isn’t RUDE to do just because you CHOOSE to make a fuss over a nothing.

    People who think street photography weird–WHO CARES what you think? I think cheese on a hamburger is nasty, I think football is overrated and people who are so possessed by it that they think they have to watch a game on Thanksgiving are being ridiculous, and I don’t care for certain fashion choices I see, but I recognize that others feeling otherwise isn’t harming me any, and the same goes here. You CHOOSE how much of a deal you make over something harmless, it’s not up to others to edit their life because someone is irrationally paranoid or just doesn’t see the point.


  121. E July 29, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    @LRH said:

    It’s because, even though in general I agree with the idea of respecting how another feels regardless of what you think of it, there are exceptions, because there are some notions that are so silly and ridiculous that they don’t deserve respecting, and this is one of them.

    yeah, except the part about you having no idea or understanding of someone else’s life experience as to why they are asking.

    The fact that you, without question or hesitation, thinks that something you don’t agree with classifies someone as an “idiot” says everything that needs to be said.

    @Dirk, thanks for the photog’s commentary. I’m not surprised it is proliferation of digital photography and all its delivery methods that makes people just want to avoid it. It might be unrealistic to achieve (like many things in life) but it’s not unreasonable to desire (like many things in life).

  122. E July 29, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    @Dirk — thank you for posting that Reddit link. It didn’t take me 5 seconds to find photos that no one deserves to have posted (and commented on) publicly. There was one of a woman at a gym doing leg lifts while on all fours — yes from a angle from behind along with commentary on the woman’s body.

    It’s not illegal though. So it’s cool.

  123. Warren July 29, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    That is one photographer, that you know. Not surprising that someone you know has the same opinion as you. Most people associate with like minded.
    So he has no interest in people, big deal. A lot of other’s are into just people, and not scenery. I love watching people, especially when in theme parks, parks, malls, airports and such where I find myself waiting for others. I would rather people watch than read a magazine or play on a phone.

  124. E July 29, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    @Warren, if you haven’t clicked on the reddit link Dirk provided, I’d suggest you do. It’s not pornography, but it a bunch of photos of unsuspecting women. I doubt you’d like to see your daughter or wife portrayed in that matter.

    No reasonable person would defend a ‘photographer’ who is taking (and posting) photos for these purposes. If it was your wife in the gym that discovered someone taking a photo like that, I’m guessing you’d support her request to remove the photo from the camera right?

    So yeah, that leaves in a grey area….the college kid at the playground wasn’t likely to use the photos in that matter, but there’s not court of public opinion that can pop up and vote for/against, so how about being a kind person?

  125. anonymous mom July 29, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    I’m not sure why anybody would assume that this mother politely asked the photographer to stop photographing her children first. It doesn’t sound like that happened, at all. Yes, if the photographer was like right up in her kids’ faces, taking pictures of them, and either they or the mom was unhappy with that, the photographer probably should have stopped if politely asked. But it sounds more like the photographer was simply taking pictures in the vicinity of this woman’s children, her children may have been in some of the shots, and she responded aggressively and violently. That is not okay on any level.

    @Dirk: “But specifically taking a picture of someone you don’t is indeed weird. I have no interest in pictures of strangers I have no connection with, but also it is uncommon.”

    I’m not sure this is true. Most of the most famous portrait photographs we have are of subjects the photographer did not have a connection to.

    A few years ago, when my third child was a couple of months old, I went to a neighborhood photography workshop. It was part of a larger community arts program, and this particular project was going to involve taking portraits of people in the neighborhood and then blowing them up and using them to decorate an abandoned home (they had permission to do this, obviously). I got a nice portrait of a neighborhood friend of my oldest, and that ended up on the house. And another participant got a picture of my baby that ended up right on the front of the house, blow up to about 4′ by 6′. One of the women who organized the project would go by the house once a week or so and talk to anybody who was there looking, to see what they thought of it, and she told me there was one woman she met there, who was looking at the picture of my baby. So she asked her what she thought, and the woman said she came by a few times a week, because she had recently lost her teenage son, and seeing my son reminded her of when her own son had been a baby and brought her comfort.

    We have no idea what connections people find in art, and photography is one form of art.

  126. E July 29, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    @Anon Mom, can I ask you a question. If someone in the neighborhood photography class asked you to NOT display the photo of her daugther – would you have insisted on doing so?

    Also, how does a situation where you are involved in the process, no how to reach the photographer (or instructor) compare to a the situation we’re discussing?

    If you haven’t clicked on the reddit link..please do so. Then tell me if you’d like your teenage daughter in shorts to be posted on reddit and commented on? Or maybe this is just “art”.

  127. E July 29, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    ack – massive typos in that last post….way past time for me to stop posting on this thread! :)

  128. anonymous mom July 29, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    @E, if I showed up in Wal-Mart one day wearing yoga pants and a ratty old t-shirt, I might hope I didn’t end up on the People of Wal-Mart site, but I don’t think I’d have the right to demand that anybody who might snap a picture near me while I was there remove it, lest that was their intention.

    It’s just true that we have no expectation of a right to privacy when we’re out in public. If we really could not stand the thought of a picture of us in a certain outfit or place or activity being taken and perhaps even posted online, then we probably should refrain from wearing that outfit or going to that place or engaging in that activity, because we cannot expect or demand privacy in public. Or we can just lighten up and recognize that even if we do end up on somebody’s “fashion no-no’s” blog, it’s no big deal.

  129. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Just to be absolutely clear I only know the street photographer I contacted by reputation he is not involved with the reddit page I posted later. Also, I have no connection to person or people running that reddit link.

  130. anonymous mom July 29, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    @E, our choices aren’t consequence-free. As a parent, my choices would be to either not allow my daughter to leave the house in shorts so short I wouldn’t want her photographed in them, or to explain to her the consequences of wearing shorts that short, which might indeed include being photographed and ridiculed and/or objectified. I don’t expect the entire world to adjust its behavior so that my daughter can wear booty shorts without consequence. That’s not reality. In the real world, our choices, including our choices of what to wear, have consequences. If you don’t want people objectifying your butt, cover it up. If you don’t cover it up, it is probably going to get objectified. As a parent, making sure my daughter understood that would be far more important than punishing or policing those who might look or even take a picture.

    And, because it was art that was going to be displayed publicly in the neighborhood, we did ask permission before taking pictures, as a courtesy. But, if it had been for a private project or a class project, I don’t think we’d have had any such obligation at all.

  131. anonymous mom July 29, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    I also think we have to recognize that in most cases, these things DO NOT MATTER. For all I know, there are pictures of me all over the web, in various outfits, with people mocking me. I’ve never seen it, so who cares? If some people on Reddit wanted to comment on my outfit or appearance, why should that bother me? Sure, if I were to become privvy to the conversation I might get my feelings hurt, but my feelings aren’t entitled to legal protection. But the chances of my even knowing if there’s an image of me out there being shared and discussed publicly are very slim. That’s fine. It would be like worrying about what neighbors say about me behind my back. Not my business, and not something I need or want to waste my time worrying about.

  132. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    I agree with AM that there is no expectation or a right to privacy when we’re out in public. That is the fact of the law.

    I just personally think it is rude to take a picture of someone as the main focus of a photograph without at least their implied or assumed permission (meaning like people in parades, part of a location like a guard or something, or if they are just part of the scene like people on a boat going down a river, or they are part of your group or party, or are just in a shot you would have taken anyway, etc are OK).

  133. E July 29, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    @anon mom, I don’t think you clicked on the link because while it did include people with questionable fashion choices (sheer and such), there were plenty including younger women in shorts that you see every day. There was also the woman who was trying to work out at a gym and some creep (yes you are a creep if you take a photo of someone’s ass while they are trying to work out in a gym) decides to take your photos and post it on a site for common caveman type commentary.

    but okay, you win.

  134. anonymous mom July 29, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    It may be rude, especially if you are planning on using the images publicly. However, the appropriate response to rudeness is not stomping on a person’s face. Even if this photography student had been rude in her picture-taking–which I don’t think is at all clearly the case from the story as presented here–there is absolutely no excuse for the mother to respond as she did. If somebody cuts in front of me in line at the grocery store, that’s rude, but assaulting them is not an okay response.

  135. anonymous mom July 29, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    @E, would it be fun to be on that site? No. But, the world, and the internet, is full of jerks. The reality is, these same people will be ogling you and judging you at the gym, or as you walk down the street, if they aren’t doing it online. Is it really any different? If the idea of it bothers you that much, don’t dress in a way that might cause ogling, because you will never, ever be able to control other people’s eyes or thoughts, and I hope we’d all agree that other people’s eyes and thoughts are not things we should police.

  136. E July 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    yes, we’ve established that a crime was committed and there is no excuse for her actions.

    You are treading very dangerously into “women ask for it” based on your comments. Women don’t deserve to be given less respect because they wear clingy clothes to the gym…are we supposed to wear full body coverage at the pool as well?

    And if you don’t know the difference between idle comments between people that see you and posting to reddit, then I give up. You do realize that reddit that has 10s of millions of hits per month right?

  137. JKP July 29, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Whether you like it or not, when you step out in public, you have no privacy anymore. You’re not in an invisible bubble in your own little world. You are part of the community of people who are sharing that space. Whether people take pictures or not, total strangers will look at you, may talk about you with others even if they don’t interact with you directly and only observe you from a distance, and will form memories that may also include you. And some of those people may even take a picture of you as a way of preserving THEIR memory. It’s NOT rude for them to take a picture, but it IS rude for you to ask them to stop or delete it.

    I can think of many memories that we still talk about with friends and family even years later that featured a stranger we witnessed whom we often never even approached or spoke to. We only witnessed something memorable that the stranger did or said (or yes, sometimes even wore). Some of those moments I wish I had a photo to relive it better.

    After my parents got married, they discovered that both their fathers had ended up at the same fishing hole together once and had a single memorable conversation. My mother’s father had died long before she ever met my dad, but wouldn’t it have been amazing if they had taken a “selfie” to commemorate that one conversation? You never know for sure what the significance of a single conversation you have with a stranger will be years later.

    I know I feature in some strangers’ photos at least once. One time I was standing in a public park talking to some friends. A squirrel ran up my leg, sat on my hip, opened my purse, and started rooting through my belongings for something to eat. The squirrel was literally upside down and buried in my purse up to its hind legs. I looked around at the other people in the park in shock, sort of thinking, “Is this really happening?” A few pulled out cameras and took pictures. The squirrel took my roll of breath mints and ran off. Should they have gotten my permission to take the photo first? Of course not.

    This idea that it’s “common courtesy” to ask for permission to take photos or even submit to someone’s request to delete a photo, stems from a mistaken belief that we travel through shared public space in our own bubble composed exclusively of those we have allowed in: the friends and family in public with us. And therefore any outsiders must ask permission and be granted access to that personal bubble. But if my child and your child are playing together at the park, we all own parts of that experience, no one has an exclusive right to it. Even if it’s just you sitting alone reading at the park, if I notice you, then it’s still a shared experience by virtue of my observing you.

  138. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    JKP, your examples don’t really apply…

    The people who met and had a conversation while fishing were no longer strangers having you know, had a conversation while fishing. They had introduced themselves etc.

    The squirrel incident was something you were sharing with people. “I looked around at the other people in the park in shock, sort of thinking, “Is this really happening?” They had a sort of implied consent.

    But like I said, I agree that there is no expectation or a right to privacy when we’re out in public. That is the fact of the law.

    I just personally think it is rude to take a picture of someone as the main focus of a photograph without at least their implied or assumed permission (meaning like people in parades, part of a location like a guard or something, or if they are just part of the scene like people on a boat going down a river, or they are part of your group or party, or are just in a shot you would have taken anyway, etc are OK).

  139. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    I just think you might be surprised at people responses if you take their pictures outside of the situations I mentioned previously…

    Walking past a stranger and taking their picture is unusual and off putting to most people these days. Try it! Go outside today with your phone and take the picture of a 100 individual people without permission. See how many people enjoy it. That will tell you what percent find it weird.

  140. JKP July 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Dirk – Yes, my grandparents had a conversation, so that could be considered permission. But the squirrel incident involved people taking my picture who I never spoke with or interacted with, just looking around at the other people in my environment wouldn’t be considered giving permission (not that they need it).

    The point of my examples is that you and so many others on this thread keep insisting that taking pictures of total strangers is somehow weird or odd. And I gave two examples where it isn’t weird or odd. I have many other examples too.

    The point is that if I notice you and find something memorable about you or about that moment in time, it’s MY memory I’m preserving through a photo. I own my observations and experiences in public just as much as you do.

    Sometimes I might take a picture of a stranger in public simply because I liked their dress and when I get home I want to look it up on Amazon and buy one for myself, and I’ll delete their photo once I find the dress.

  141. JKP July 29, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Once or twice I’ve taken photos of strangers because they were the exact doppleganger of a friend or family member, and I just had to show my friend how they had a “twin” running around out there.

    You never know why someone might want a photo featuring you, but it might not actually be about you at all.

    I’ve never had anyone react angrily or have any issues with me taking photos before. I’m never in anyone’s face “paparazzi” style. But if I take photos while blending in the background, I’ve never had anyone have a problem with it before. Then again, I’m female.

  142. JKP July 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Dirk – if I hadn’t looked around at anyone else in the park, would it have been rude for them to take a picture? Come on! There’s a squirrel rooting through some girl’s purse. Who doesn’t take a picture of that?

  143. E July 29, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Whether you like it or not, when you step out in public, you have no privacy anymore.

    Isn’t this site completely based on the fact that we shouldn’t sit around and accept that certain things are a certain way “whether we like it or not”.

    Lenore doesn’t have a following because she took the attitude of “whether we like it or not….my kids can’t walk home from school alone”….”whether we like it or not…I have to justify allowing my kids to walk to the store alone”.

    Sorry – I’m not buying it.

  144. JKP July 29, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    The “whether you like it or not” in my statement didn’t reference anything society is imposing on us or anything you can change. It’s a fact of REALITY. When you step out in public, you have no privacy because other people can SEE YOU. I could also say, “Whether you like it or not, everyone has to deal with the fact of gravity.”

  145. JKP July 29, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    If you don’t like the fact that other people can actually see you when you’re in public, and thus can look at you and make memories of you, whether in their heads or on photographic paper, then invent a mobile privacy shed that can shield you from prying eyes wherever you go.

  146. E July 29, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    heh – nice recovery. We’re taking about images of people in public, not that people can see you, LOL. But you knew that.

    So now that we have established that, some of you really want to go all in on this “don’t ask me to remove my photos…it’s art, it’s a project…dammit it’s not illegal” BS?

    Here’s an article about the reddit issue (and some other websites/tumblr doing the same thing) apparently Anderson Cooper even covered it. And the sub reddit that they are talking about is the one Dirk provided the link for. They are “pretending” to talk about fashion (to get around the “creep” factor), but they are just leering at women. It’s extremely creepy that there isn’t enough porn with willing participants available that these folks share and encourage creep photography to entertain them. And women have every right to be bothered by it.

    And maybe that’s why people might walk up to a photographer and say “please stop/remove that”. And that’s why people can be nice and say “ok”.

  147. Warren July 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    My daughters would be the first to admit that though they don’t like it, they would not be upset about it. Jerks and idiots are all around us, and they agree the best way to deal with it is to dismiss it for what it is.

    As for your cover ups at the pool or beach……..well hate to tell you, if you don’t want to be looked at a certain way, don’t dress that way.

    If you don’t want to be photographed in a revealing swimsuit, don’t wear one. It is that simple.
    And yes this site is about not just accepting things the way they are, but it also about not regulating or limiting everyone because a precious few are over sensitive.

  148. JKP July 29, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    It’s the same argument people use against free speech: “I don’t like what this one guy is saying so I want to limit everyone’s free speech.” You’re saying: “I don’t like how these few people are using photography in public, so I want to limit everyone.”

    What happened to “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

  149. E July 29, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    @JKP, it’s not what you are saying at all.

    I haven’t been railing on people taking public photography. I’ve been saying that if someone ASKS you to stop or remove the photo, just be nice and do it. That’s it.

    Clearly, legally you don’t have to do it. You don’t have to hold a door for someone if they ask, you don’t have to hold a place in line for someone if they have to step out for some reason, you don’t have to do a lot of things that make the world a nicer place.

    My point about reddit and all the others, is that the ABUSE of creep photography is one thing (among some others) that may make people uncomfortable with a stranger taking their photo. It’s not unreasonable.

    Clearly this is becoming a circular discussion, so I’ll try to bow out once again.

  150. E July 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    And for the record (for the umpteenth time), there has not been a single suggestion in this thread that public photography should be against the law.

  151. anonymous mom July 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    “You are treading very dangerously into “women ask for it” based on your comments. Women don’t deserve to be given less respect because they wear clingy clothes to the gym…are we supposed to wear full body coverage at the pool as well? ”

    Nice try, but no. If you want to be looked at respectfully, then dress in a way that will lead to respectful looks. If you think you can walk around in booty shorts and a bikini top and have people look at you respectfully, you are living in a fantasy world. Sorry, if I show up to teach in sweatpants and a stained t-shirt, my students are not going to respect me as much as they would if I showed up dressed in dress pants and a blouse. If I show up wearing a skin-tight shirt and a miniskirt, I can’t start complaining that they were looking at my boobs, not me. That’s just how life works.

    I am so freaking sick of white women whining about how oppressed they are because when they go out in shorts that show half their butt and a sports bra, people dare to ogle them or even–gasp–catcall them. I mean, seriously: they knew exactly what was going to happen, and they were dressed that way because they wanted to show off their bodies and get attention. But, when guys they don’t find attractive show them that attention, they freak out. (Nobody claims #yesallwomen after Alexander Skarsgard or Ryan Gosling chats them up, just after some dude they don’t find attractive does.) The problem is that, again, we have no protective bubble in public, making sure that our tight, low-cut shirt only shows when hot guys look at us.

    No, of course nobody is asking for a rape if they are wearing a bikini. But, if you are wearing a string bikini, you ARE going to be looked at. And, people might think not-so-pure thoughts about you. If you can’t handle that, don’t dress that way. It’s honestly not that hard.

  152. E July 29, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Wow – a lot of pent up stuff there!

    The woman that I mentioned in the reddit forum was wearing typical workout clothing that is worn by millions of women each day in a gym. She was in a gym. She was actively working out. A person took a photo of her while she was doing leg raises and extensions while on all fours. From the rear. Are you going to tell me with a straight face that she did something to “invite” this or deserve this level of disrespect. This photo wasn’t posted on a fitness blog (one from that angle never would) and the exercise being featured, it was posted in a reddit forum for the purposes of leering at her butt. Does a woman have to wear baggy sweats in a gym now in order to make sure she doesn’t end up with a butt shot on reddit? You cannot be seriously saying it’s her fault.

  153. LRH July 29, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Do you get the feeling that this is going to continue and carry on well past the point of how crazy and criminal the mother was?

    Well, anywway, my turn I suppose.

    anonymous mom EXactly, in so many aspects, the “walking private bubble” aspect you mentioned, where we think we have this “invisible bubble” around us. By the way, I surmise the same thing in terms of how some people will become FURIOUS if you do a “drop-in” at their house if you’re “in the neighborhood,” they get all bit about MY house and MY space and “don’t come into MY space barging in without an invitation.” We have a need for control that gets irrational sometimes in that sort of way. (And if you are one that prefers people to call first, that’s fine, I’m just saying that those who get SO UPSET about it, I see a link frankly.)

    And yes, I am also sick and tired of certain women walking around in a bikini or a low-cut tank-top and then if you even GLANCE for barely 1-2 seconds with a slight raise of the eyebrow, they act as if they’ve been ogled by a bunch of construction workers. It’s ridiculous. Yes, you have NO RIGHT to complain about a little quick 1-2 second glance when you parade your assets around like that. No one is saying a woman who was raped asked for it, or that they should have to burn up while covered head-to-toe when it’s 95’F, but a lot of what I see goes beyond just dressing for the weather.

    E WWih respect to the scenario you mentioned in the gym and the awkward leg squats or whatever–on one hand, I do see your point, however, that is a far different prospect than typical street photography. The street photography work I’ve seen anyway was nothing of that sort.

    Even still, though, I do still kind of say “so what?” What are the odds anyone’s going to recognize any of those women? The phrase “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” is sometimes abused or over-used, but I do think it sort of applies there. They’re the proverbial “face in the crowd,” so honestly no harm is being done. I can still agree it’s some crude and sleazy behavior just the same, and I tell you that the occasions I go to the gym, I do nothing of the sort. I can certainly understand someone being bothered by the likes of THAT, and gyms may well be a bit strict about cameras at a fitness place because of that. I have no problem with that, especially since I never see anything photo-worthy or even necessarily snapshort-worthy when I’m there.

    I agree with Warren too in that I think this site also at least partially about not regulating or limiting everyone because of a few that are overly sensitive. That certainly applies with respect to this topic, for sure.


  154. Andy July 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    @anonymous mom Only jerks catcall women. Seriously, the manly behavior you describe is way more about those man then about women shorts. And if a man can not handle the sight of women in bikiny without acting out like thirteen years old seeing playboy for the first time, he should not go to pool before dealing with it.

    If the kind of behavior is to be expected, then it is kind of sad.

  155. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    A few years ago, on the beach path along Lake Michigan, I was waiting for a friend, hopping from foot to foot to avoid the burning sand, when I noticed a random guy taking my picture. “Don’t do that,” I said. “Come on,” he replied, camera still aimed at me, “You’re at the beach!” I told him more forcefully to stop, but he snapped one more photo before walking away.

    Who knows what happened to that photo. Maybe he tweeted it, posted it, or shared it on his creepy blog. Maybe it’s part of a Reddit thread making fun of chunky girls in bikinis. Maybe it just sits idly on the dude’s phone, long forgotten. Maybe, just maybe, he felt a twinge of guilt and deleted it.

    For a long time, I thought this guy was the problem. But it’s not just him, and it’s not about the bikini. These days, we all feel entitled to take pictures of strangers to post, share, and mock.

    Rule #1: Don’t take pictures of strangers without their permission.

    Rule #2: Seriously, don’t take pictures of strangers without their permission.


    Every day, I see pictures of strangers on Instagram and Twitter. There are pictures of bare legged girls braving Chicago winters, pictures of drunk Baseball fans behaving badly, pictures of women with great asses going through airport security. I am guilty of it too. This week I shared, while laughing, a tumblr that collected pictures of men taking up too much space on the subway. It’s hard to remember that each person whose photo is in the gallery is a real human, one who may feel pretty shitty to look up to see a stranger’s phone in their face.

    We have become immunized to what a bizarre, invasive, and often bullying action it is to surreptitiously take a picture of someone you don’t know and share it on the Internet. In the most extreme cases, we are outraged, like when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that taking upskirt photos on public transportation is not prohibited, or when a photo making fun of a Sikh woman sneakily taken at the airport was posted on Reddit. She wrote back and the Internet rallied around her.

    I’m not a lawyer and I’m not interested in the conversation about what’s legally prohibited or allowed, so please don’t post in the comments anything that starts with “But there’s no law against…” We’re all adults here; it’s OK to consider the ethics of a situation without testing the limits of the law.

    People should, whenever possible, have the ability to control their own image and how its used. Just this week, an Instagram account was launched called You Did Not Eat That, mocking thin people holding food. These photos are taken from people’s personal accounts and then repurposed to be ridiculed. Yes, they posted them publicly in the first place, but no, it’s not cool to repost a stranger’s photo just to make fun of it. Illegal? No. Asshole move? Yes.

    Are there exceptions? Of course. An actress on a red carpet posing for photos has generally signed up for having her picture taken and published. Panelists at an event have typically signed off on photography. Ditto for politicians giving speeches. These are not the same circumstances as someone riding the train to work or sunning themselves at a local beach.

    Rule of thumb: If you think what you’re doing is complimentary to the stranger, then you should be able to ask permission. “I’m working on a gallery of photos of street style and I think your look is really cool, do you mind if I take a picture?” If you’re not comfortable explaining why you’re taking the photo, chances are high that your plans fall on the mocking, bullying, slimy side of the spectrum.


    We live in a strange time. We see something noteworthy and we can’t help ourselves from claiming it and sharing it and collecting the requisite digital accolades. I saw a minor celebrity at a Nashville restaurant having a casual dinner with his wife and the impulse to discreetly take a photo was intense. Only the intervention of my friend, who reminded me that I normally think that’s shitty behavior, pulled me away from my phone.

    I don’t think we’re ever going to break the habit of document-and-share; it’s become too ingrained in our lives. Posting a photo of a beautiful cupcake might be twee and annoying, but it does no harm. But posting a photo of a stranger’s bad fashion choices, hot bod, or annoying public transit behavior? Potentially harmful. How would that person feel to see their photo on your Instagram with your clever, cutting caption? Are the likes really worth it?

    Role Reboot regular contributor Emily Heist Moss is a New Englander in love with Chicago, where she works in a tech start-up. She blogs every day about gender, media, politics and sex at Rosie Says, and has written for Jezebel, The Frisky, The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

  156. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    It seems to be happening all around us, with no one really batting an eyelid. Until now that is. Taking a quick piccie of a cute boy in a dapper suit to send via Snapchat to a friend, or documenting the ‘look-a-like’ who you can’t help document for later, we’re all guilty of it. Even if we take a picture of the fluffy dog on the table next to us in the restaurant, should we be technically asking it’s owner’s permission? It’s not our dog. Or have we reached a new level of advanced technology that is engrained within our society that we think it’s totally within our rights to snap away at whoever we want to, whenever we want to?

    The reason this has now become an issue, and in fact a social ‘fear’, is because it takes seconds for a photo to go viral and hit mainstream media. It’s also possible to be really subtle without having camera sound on your phone. It’s not like you’re getting a heavy Canon 600d out of your bag, you just need to pretend to be playing Candy Crush at a weird angle and you’re in. Snap snap. One sneaky photo harmlessly uploaded onto Twitter is then in the public domain and has the potential to be spread anywhere, by anyone, and even end up on the front page of a tabloid newspaper. Forget skiving off work or having sex in the street, these days you could be made a fool of for just eating or sleeping on public transport. This is now a reality.

    I must admit until now, I’ve often scrolled through blogs and poked fun behind my screen at Tumblrs that crowd source photos of the general public. Sites such as “LAMFRT” (that’s Look At My F*cking Red Trousers). Essentially it’s a Tumblr for people to upload pictures of “posh idiots” who roam such events such as the Polo or Henley Regatta who wear the same silly red trousers. It’s funny to laugh at these members of society who thinks it’s cool to dress up wearing the same red trousers, isn’t it? However, something happened last week that made me feel exceptionally guilty about laughing at these posh people. I feel guilty that I could happily laugh along at a public Tumblr group that could have seriously upset the people that were on there and that it took a public group that posted pictures of women eating that made me think: oh shoot, I could so easily be pictured and mocked online too.

    Let me explain: the latest victims of people snapping away without permission or any sense of decency, is the Facebook group “Women Who Eat on Tubes”. Suddenly, I felt a pang of absolute disgust over the fact that some horrible men have been taking secret photos of women eating at unflattering angles. It is a horrible, seedy group, and it’s not just the pictures that make it hard to look at; it’s the vile comments and captions underneath each picture that add an extra layer of evil. It’s the fact that these women are completely unaware and just enjoying a harmless bite to each on public transport. Soon to be seen and laughed at by thousands.

    I don’t think this is a specific gender issue, or that it’s all about the battle between men and women, but I do find the whole thing very intimidating. I must admit I have recently paused when thinking about having a snack on the tube since discovering this group because it has become so main stream and has happened to a soon-to-be colleague. If it was the other way around and it was a group of women taking pictures of men eating it would be just as disgusting and invasive. I think the issue just needs to raised with Facebook and with the general public to reinforce the fact that it is just bad manners. It’s not OK to take pictures of people in a cruel way. It’s not OK full stop.

    What I honestly cannot believe above all, is that Facebook hasn’t yet removed this group. It’s still there and what’s worse is it’s an ‘open group’ which means anyone can access it and anyone can post to it. What’s even more sinister is the fact that the groups founder, recently interviewed by Telegraph’s Wonder Women compared it to capturing “wildlife” which honestly sends shivers down my spine: “It should cherish its subjects in the way a wildlife photographer cherishes a kingfisher in a river.” Ew.

    I for one will be having second thoughts whenever I am tempted to photograph anyone without permission or for the sake of ‘sharing’, with friends or on the Internet. That includes snapping the backs of heads of nearby celebrities or anyone I don’t know even if it’s to capture the fact that I like their shoes. Just because we have portable cameras doesn’t mean we have any right to be snapping away in stranger’s faces.

  157. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Photographing strangers and posting the pictures to a public forum is creepy. Even if the picture is beautifully framed, wonderfully lit, and visually stimulating, unless the person has agreed to be photographed you’re crossing a line. Instagram has made this type of photography wildly popular and more accepted than ever. Many of my closest friends and relatives do this. Subway pictures of strangers, people waiting for a train, people crossing a street, eating food – I get it. The landscape of NYC littered with its citizens makes for compelling photographs. This is the sum + substance of why people watching here is so satisfying. But I don’t agree with the notion that just because it’s possible and popular, it’s ok to voyeuristically post pictures of strangers.

    If I caught a stranger taking a picture of me, for whatever noble and artistic reason, it would bug me. Particularly if they were being sneaky about it. More so if they were taking a picture of any of my children. Honestly, that would freak me out. It’s just invasive, and that is the truth.

    I think there are some exceptions. Vague pictures, not specifically showing faces but instead more of a landscape. Performers, who presumably are putting themselves out into the world to be watched. Maybe even police officers or other public figures on duty. Anyone who is not having a private moment. But the rest of us are just going from A to B, without trying to be on the stage of social media, maybe not feeling our best or looking our best or maybe we’re going through something or possibly feeling vulnerable or wearing something we thought looked great but actually looks awful.

    But we have not agreed to be part of your artistic expression. By being in public, is it just implied that we consent? I don’t think so.

    I’m seriously kind of shocked by how many people take and publicly post pictures of others. When did this become ok? How does it seem like a valid form of art? And if they have to do it covertly, doesn’t that just sort of negate any argument that it’s fine? In my experience, anything a person has to hide is usually kind of on dodgy ground.

    I’d love to hear how others feel about this – particularly people who do it. Truthfully, I’ve done it before. I’ve seen a funny situation, photographed it, then posted it. But after seeing it done more and more, with people dancing a little too close to the line of invasive disregard, I’ve had to put the kibosh on my own involvement. It could be that I’m being ridiculous, though. What do you think?

  158. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    In Brisbane, at one of the city’s main intersections, a local photographer gets into position to take snaps of the city’s passing parade. In photographing people who make their way along city streets, he is of course following in the footsteps of famous artists such as Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson. But according to some of those whose pictures have been taken, he is also invading their privacy and causing them acute embarrassment and distress.

    A protest petition has been started by asking street photographers, and particularly the Brisbane photographer behind, to: “stop taking unwanted photos in Brisbane City”. Accompanying comments testify to many of his subjects feeling “violated and sickened”.

    Meanwhile, in Britain, journalist Sophie Wilkinson felt “hurt and humiliated” last month when she discovered a photograph of herself eating a salad, posted along with other images taken on the London underground of women eating, on the Facebook group for Women Who Eat on Tubes.

    Much comment blames new media for such intrusions, but they are not so novel. More than 100 years ago, one woman wrote in the Ladies Home Journal:

    It is difficult for some people to understand that there are those who have a strong prejudice against being promiscuously “snapped at” through a camera … Amateur photographers have an idea that everything and everybody may be considered as fair game for their cameras, and that no-one should interpose objection.
    The annoyance of street photography is almost as old as the camera itself, as is the question it raises of who should have rights in relation to photographs – those who take the pictures or those “snapped at”. Developments in online media have intensified such debates. Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and the blogosphere are festooned with photographs taken professionally or casually, published without their subjects’ knowledge or consent.

    New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman may have declared last week that privacy is over, but technology’s erosion of privacy and our calls for its legal enforcement have always gone hand in hand.

  159. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of Humans of New York, which I’m positive you’ve at least heard of, as it might be the most trafficked photoblog on the Internet on top of a best-selling book right now. Brandon Stanton started the blog in 2010 and has since published over 6,000 portraits and mini interviews with people who have crossed his path in New York City. You’d think that given the 6,3 million Facebook likes, the place would be cluttered with trolls and assholes, but Brandon managed to achieve the impossible and carve out a safe space for people to come together and talk about life and all its peaks and valleys in a civilised, heartfelt way.

    The reason why Humans of New York is so successful and exudes a thoroughly positive energy is that Brandon gives his subjects empathic treatment, respect, and a voice. Brandon’s approach to street photography is forthright, yet supremely gentle and considerate. His subjects are normally posing for the camera, they are fully aware that they are being photographed, and they have been informed about the project that their picture will be a part of. Brandon has made it clear in multiple interviews that he values consent over anything else; if the subject changes their mind at any point and asks him not to publish their portrait or delete it from the website, he will comply without question. This should be deemed basic courtesy and respect, and yet, not every photographer (or person with a camera) abides by these rules.

    There are many examples of people who misuse the law that was originally intended to make it possible for us to take photographs in public at all, be they individuals who call themselves professionals, like Mark Cohen, Bruce Gilden and Erik Kim, or average Joes who simply own a mobile phone with a camera. You can find countless online platforms dedicated to photos of unsuspecting strangers that fit a particular niche. Until not too long ago, there was a perfectly legal Subreddit filled with surreptitious upskirt and downblouse shots called CreepShots. It was banned after attracting media coverage and sparking national outrage because a teacher at a high school in Georgia posted a picture of his underage student (I wish I was kidding), but it goes without saying that this brand of photography is still alive and well on other, less mainstream forums.

    Even when the intentions of the snappers don’t present themselves as overtly malicious and gross, they leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Scrolling down my Tumblr feed, I’ll often see a photo of a well-dressed, attractive person on the subway or another public place that was very obviously taken without their permission or even knowledge, usually accompanied by humorous comments that express the user’s admiration and lust for the subject. One could argue that no harm is done because the person gets favourable exposure, but it’s still potentially unwanted exposure, and that’s what makes the very act of taking and publishing sneaky pictures of strangers so profoundly morally questionable.

    The (now closed) Facebook group Women Who Eat on Tubes serves as a concrete example of unsettling voyeurism of this caliber. In recent months, it’s drawn quite a lot of attention because of an article by a journalist who was targeted by one of the admins, and the opinions on the case seem to fall into two opposite camps: some think that people need to get over it and note that nobody has a reasonable expectation of privacy anywhere in public, others believe that this treatment is nothing short of harassment.

    Sadly, we all know how easy it is to dehumanise the nameless fat stranger wearing flashy yoga pants, have a laugh at their expense and justify our behaviour with lame excuses like “Well, they shouldn’t go out wearing flamboyant pants if they don’t want the attention.” And while this certainly happens a lot, most of us know in our heart of hearts that it is wrong and admit that it is shitty to make fun of others because of how they look under any circumstances. The line really isn’t blurred there. But stuff like Women Who Eat on Tubes, which markets itself as “observational not judgemental”, survives on being subtly malevolent — most of us feel uncomfortable about it, we feel instinctively that it’s not okay to put strangers on display like that just for going about their business, but it’s hard to explain in rational terms why this group is revolting. The tagline sounds harmless enough, there are no flagrantly cruel captions or intentional upskirt shots. In cold print, it’s all clean.

    And still, it takes only one glance at the first few shots to sense that something seems fishy as hell. The featured women are reduced to exotic curiosities for the viewer to gawk at, there’s a weird wagging finger element going on and the gendered nature of the premise adds another discriminatory layer to the whole charade. It’s a testament to the fact that anything flies under the guise of high art, and the targets’ feelings about being part of this “observational study” are of no concern to a shocking amount of people. Legally, nothing can be done about this (yet) — but how tragic is it to think that women shouldn’t even be able to exercise their right to eat on public transport in peace without having some creep point a camera at them and subsequently have thousands of strangers ogle and mock them online?

    Aggressive street photographers are their own problematic can of worms. It is not unusual of them to react defensively and pull the legal rights card when their strategy is called into question, almost as if they’d never heard of the concept of common decency and respect for their fellow humans. As far as I’m concerned, it is noxious, not to mention arrogant, to insist that one’s own artistic vision should be prioritised over the subject’s wishes. People are not exhibits or commodities, they’re people. Abusing an unwilling subject’s photo for entertainment or artistic and even economic gain, while often legal, is bad conduct at best and a violation of human rights at worst.

    While I do think it’s marginally better to take on an “in your face” approach to street photography than to take snapshots in an inconspicuous manner, if only for the minimal amount of balls required on the part of the photographer and the possibility for the subject to intervene in the former case, provocative art is not synonymous with harassment, and expressing oneself at the expense of others is far from professional. Brandon Stanton repeatedly proves that good street photography transcends its art form status and turns into something greater, something that unites people from all walks of life — and most importantly, that talented artists with a genuine interest in the human condition have great regard for their subjects.

    I fear that inventions like Google Glass will take the disturbing trend of recording the unaware and possibly unwilling to yet another level. This is why discussions centering around ethics and privacy in the age of the Internet and portable recording devices are crucial. At the end of the day, regardless of whether or not laws should be readjusted accordingly, I think respect is the best guide to action in all matters involving another sentient being.

  160. E July 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Oh goodness, I just can’t help myself….no one ever said anything about limiting “everyone” no one ever said that. The discussion has been about “a person asking” for relief. A 1:1 encounter between a photographer and the subject about a small set of photos. And it was acknowledged a LONG time ago that you don’t have to…even if it would be nice if you DID.

    E WWih respect to the scenario you mentioned in the gym and the awkward leg squats or whatever–on one hand, I do see your point, however, that is a far different prospect than typical street photography. The street photography work I’ve seen anyway was nothing of that sort.

    I agree with you. However, it’s this type of abuse that the internet and digital photography and social media and sites like reddit (one of the biggest traffic websites there is, top 100 I think) that make people FEEL like they might prefer that their photo not be taken by a stranger. I’m feel like I’ve been clear on this.

    I would bet a large sum of money, that the overwhelming majority of women who stumbled on someone taking a creep shot would ask them to delete it (and might even go off on them). And they’d be cautious from that point forward about anyone taking their photos. Other reddit photos included photos of people who with skirts that were dangerously close to “up skirt” photos (are illegal) or victims of a gust of wind etc…nothing to do with those naughty trashy wardrobe choices women might make. /eyeroll

    So my recap (and then I swear I’m done). Seeing people take creep photography (and it is prevalent even if it’s not sexualized) might make you think differently about noticing that someone IS taking your photo (obviously you can’t do anything about the ones you are unaware of).

  161. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    This is the best one I think. It is from National Geographic. Basically it says you need to make a connection and ASK to take a strangers picture. Because, you know, it is weird to take a strangers picture that you have zero connection too. At least if a squirrel crawled in a persons lap it is pretty clear why you are taking a picture…that is the connection. But Nat Geo says to ASK…

    As a photographer and photo editor for National Geographic Traveler, people often ask me how I approach strangers when I want to take their picture — especially when there’s a language barrier. Here are my thoughts:
    Taking a photograph of someone you don’t know is one of the most difficult things to do for many beginning photographers. Although many people think of the National Geographic Society as being home to wonderful pictures of wildlife, in truth most of the photos are of what we refer to as pictures of the human condition. Photography is a powerful tool for showing what the world is like on a human level.

    So, how do you get comfortable taking pictures of people? The first step is to realize that most people don’t mind being photographed. The simplest thing to do is make up your mind that you are interested in showing people in your photographs and force yourself to go out and meet people with your camera.

    Give yourself an assignment — a story that you would like to cover. This story idea will go a long way toward making people feel comfortable with you photographing them, providing an answer to the inevitable question they will ask when you make the request: why?

    It’s very important to force yourself to interact with people when you want to take their picture. Some people are naturally friendly and enjoy walking up to strangers and introducing themselves. The camera gives you an excuse to become one of those people.

    If you see something interesting happening that might change if you stop to introduce yourself, feel free to snap a few frames. Soon, the subject will figure out what’s going on. At that point you’ll want to tell them who you are, what you’re doing and ask them if it’s okay to hang around a bit.

    The hanging around part is important because it can take awhile for the situation to return to normal once you’ve had “the conversation.” In fact, sometimes you’ll need to tell people to try and ignore you. The other reason hanging around is important is because you don’t want to have the attitude of being a “taker.” You have entered into a social contract with your subject and you owe them the courtesy of spending some time with them.

    I admit that the language barrier can be a problem in the field, but it always helps to practice in a place where you share a common language, so it at least becomes easier to make acquaintances at the drop of a hat. Sometimes in a foreign country the only friendly interaction needed for a successful photograph is a well-timed smile.

    Also don’t forget that since you are getting something from this social contract you should try to give something back. For example, that beautiful girl selling lavender at the seaside in Croatia? Buy some of her lavender then stick around a little and get a great photo. Crazy street musician in Rome? Throw a little something in his hat. Amazing-looking barber in Beijing? Maybe it’s time for you to get a haircut. Might not be the best haircut you’ve ever had, but you will get much better photos — and one really great story to tell.

  162. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    but like I said before…

    I just think you might be surprised at people responses if you take their pictures outside of the situations I mentioned previously…

    Walking past a stranger and taking their picture is unusual and off putting to most people these days.

    Try it! Go outside today with your phone and take the picture of a 100 individual people without permission. Be obvious about it. Go see how many people seem to enjoy it. That will tell you what percent find it weird.

  163. Warren July 29, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    You really need a hobby.

    Other than that, have you learned nothing from this site?
    Your links, examples and such just go to prove that it is the minority that feels the way you do. Otherwise they would not have made it into forums from which you can draw.

    The exceptions get the attention, not the standard.

    Again, if one gets upset, traumatized, or bothered by someone taking their picture, that one has some issues that need to be addressed.

  164. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Warren. National Geographic is not the exception.


    …like I said before…

    I just think you might be surprised at people responses if you take their pictures outside of the situations I mentioned previously…

    Walking past a stranger and taking their picture is unusual and off putting to most people these days.

    TRY IT TODAY!!!!

    Try it! Go outside today with your phone and take the picture of a 100 individual people without permission. Be obvious about it. Go see how many people seem to enjoy it. It won’t be anywhere near a majority…

    That will tell you what percent find it weird.

  165. LRH July 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    You know, some 40-50 years ago, had you been an African American going into any number of restaurants in the south, people would’ve thought that weird. I think about as much of people who think street photography weird vs having a sense of culture as I do those bigots of 50 odd years ago.

    And yes, while on some level a man “cat calling” is being sleazy, yes at the same time when you wear a bikini or a spaghetti tank with no bra, you have no right to complain about a few stares. Get over it or cover up a little already.


  166. E July 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Ok, we’ve compared this to segregation…someone only needs to bring up Hitler and we’re done here. LMAO

  167. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Just to be clear, I don’t think street photography is weird. I just agree with how the National Geographic Magazine photographer says you should go about it! Peace out.

  168. Dirk July 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm #


    Walking past a stranger and taking their picture is unusual and off putting to most people.

    Try it! Go outside today with your phone and take the picture of a 100 individual people without permission. Be obvious about it. Go see how many people seem to enjoy it. It won’t be anywhere near a majority…

  169. Warren July 29, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    You try you moronic experiment, then come back and lie about your findings. I have better uses for my time than that.

    And yes one photographer, for one obsolete magazine is an exception.

    Get over yourself, you are an oversensitve jerk that is in the minority. A minority of people with issues that demand therapy. The fact that you are protesting this so much just solidifies how insecure and or paranoid you are.

    Ahhhhh wait no I see……you’re Dolly’s husband that alienates neighbors because you refuse to talk about football, aren’t you?

  170. Donna July 29, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    “I’m struggling to understand why a complete stranger (the photographer) would decide the THEY should be decision maker in regard to images of someone’s kids in the event they are asked to remove them.”

    I’m struggling to understand why anyone should give a complete stranger total control over what memories they can record … or as in this case, the contents of their school work.

    This is completely a case-by-case basis decision. There are pictures that I will delete if asked and pictures that I will never delete. It depends on the contents of the pictures and their importance to me. I think anyone who insists that they will ALWAYS delete pictures if asked not being completely truthful to themselves.

    TWO people are involved in EVERY consideration of common courtesy. While I am willing to listen to other people, my views and attachment to my own pictures are not irrelevant to the consideration.

    As for this case, it would depend. If I have enough decent pictures without her kids, I’d delete them. If not, I wouldn’t. If the mother had asked me while I was taking pictures not to include her children, I would have complied if possible. But I am not going to be inclined to delete my entire project and redo everything if asked later. My time and grade are an acceptable consideration.

    But I absolutely will not delete them if it is demanded of me in a threatening manner as described here.

  171. JKP July 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Dirk, I understand that you think people should ask permission first, but that would destroy the natural expressions they are trying to capture on film, not to mention that would prevent them from capturing any spontaneous action.

    We have many iconic photos of people in public taken without their consent. The picture of the WWII sailor bending over the nurse and kissing her, many people have postcards of that picture or posters hanging on their wall. It’s a famous image everyone recognizes. But the photographer didn’t ask before snapping the pic. The photographer didn’t get consent, didn’t even get their names. There has been much controversy over the years on who those two figures were, many different men each claiming to be the one in the photo.

    Yes, being in public is implied consent to have your photo taken.

    Even at private events, if you read the fine print on the back of your entrance ticket, usually it says something to the effect that your attendance is your consent to have your photo taken and used in advertising. So that concert you go to, the ski resort you go to, the sporting event you attend, they can use your photo in their advertising if their ticket warned you in advance.

  172. SOA July 29, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    Um my husband goes to way more hip or obscene websites to post like something awful or penny arcade. He does not post here ever. Or even visit this site ever.

  173. hineata July 29, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    @Dirk – Actually I don’t have to do that experiment – we’ve done it before while travelling. Possibly it’s because we’ve never been to America, which some days seems the Home of Paranoia, but my Asian husband has taken photos of hundreds of people while at the same time recording us and various monuments. A great many people have stopped and posed for him, which kind-of ruins the thrill in some ways, LOL, but it’s all part of the fun.

    So no, having lived in the home of ‘She’ll be right’, and travelled lots, I can safely say you must live in a very odd place, because much of the world does not find it weird to have their photo taken by strangers.

  174. hineata July 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    Actually, a great many people welcome it… :-)

  175. Cindi July 30, 2014 at 1:07 am #

    I have had my children twice appear in newspapers.

    Once on top of pile of snow that had been plowed on the square (busted by a photographer rofl..) They called and asked if I minded they use the photo AFTER they took it. No faces were shown. You would have had to been able to tell what child wore what coat from a black and white photo. If they had stopped to ask the kids my phone number before taking the photo it wouldn’t have happened! Because they would have ran so not to get busted breaking a rule I had set down!

    The second time my littlest was at the park with her older sister. While swinging her photo was taken. Once again, permission was asked AFTER! They asked the oldest daughter. Now way they would have gotten such a cute picture of her swinging with her hands in the air if they stopped for permission.

    Both times they could have just printed it. No release legally needed. But I sure appreciated the heads up and opertunity to buy extra papers!

    As a hobbyist photographer I know the legal parts. There are cards you can get to hand out if needed. I do that. Oh and inside the restaurant it is up to the management. That is considered private property that has an expectation of privacy.

    Also, a photographer CAN take pictures of your child even in your own yard. Even through your window. Or in a public bathroom, doctors office,you got the picture.

    HOWEVER, if they use a telephoto lens from public property onto private property, THAT can be an issue. Then general terms, it’s kind of, “if you can see it with naked eye, you can shoot it.”

  176. Cindi July 30, 2014 at 1:09 am #

    Sorry I meant NOT in a public bathroom, doctors office,you got the picture.

  177. Buffy July 30, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    Dolly, why on earth was it necessary for us to know that your husband visits obscene websites? Back off.

  178. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    I love talking about football.

  179. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Hi hineata, Travelled? I have. A ton. Bunch of US states, Canada, Mexico, Purto Rico, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Italy…

    I am friendly and have met plenty of people. At pubs, festivals, museums, etc. I have a few shots of people and of me and people I have just met. Having met them, and having a few beers, a pic was taken etc.

    Walking past a stranger and taking their picture is unusual and off putting to most people these days. Try it! Go outside today with your phone and take the picture of a 100 individual people without permission. See how many people enjoy it. That will tell you what percent find it weird.

  180. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Again. There are times when it is cool to click away and there are times when it is rude. If you can’t imagine that sliding scale then your have your blinders on. Crazy squirrel on a persons lap at the park click click click. Lady trying to enjoye her lunch on her break, you can click if you want, she might just think you are an annoying pest. Better to do what Nat Geo suggests and talk to her first.

  181. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Expression Always Has Costs: The Issue of Street Photography and Ethics

    April 14, 2013 By Eric Kim 49 Comments

    This article is written by Mike Aviña, a street photographer based in the Bay Area. You can see his work featured on the blog here and an article he wrote about shooting street photography with the iPhone 5.

    Mike: The street photography blogosphere has been buzzing lately with discussions about ethics. A recent review published by the San Francisco Chronicle started much of the fire. Jorg Colberg posted his own rant. Street photographers responded on their own blogs and online forums. The debate settled into two general camps and shots were fired between the two. Some argued that we should be more sensitive in how we approach people, others ranted that because the law protects us (at least in the United States), we can do as we like. There’s a bit more going on here and at stake. Street photographers, the art world, and the public at large must remember why photography in the public space is protected expression in many countries.

    The long line of thinking is this: freedom of expression is both rooted in our individual freedom and that expression provides something good to society: a range of ideas. The wider the range of expression; the wider the continuum of ideas that are available.

    This is not news; but I think there is a point that is being missed. Photographs form part of the continuum of ideas; if we as photographers restrict the way we shoot in public, or allow society to restrict our work, we all lose.

    Two of the most important functions photographs serve within the realm of ideas are their power to depict political and emotional experience.

    For example, Winogrand’s shots are distinctly political: they show the upheaval and tensions in our society at his time. This example from Los Angeles (“Hollywood Boulevard” in the title of this post) provides a stark comparison of the complacent and fortunate members of society and the less fortunate. If Winogrand used a more “respectful” approach; an approach perhaps favored by Millner, he would not have left us this image.

    Other shots that may be “intrusive” or “disrespectful” according to Millner and Colberg actually show us how things feel. When I watch Gilden’s “The Rat Story” (video embedded above) I always think “Yes, that’s exactly how it feels…” the glare, content, and angle of his images correspond to the texture of emotional life in big cities: stressful, disjointed, at times harsh. These kinds of expressions would not be possible, would not have as much fidelity to how things actually look and feel, had Winogrand or Gilden used a different approach.

    Expression always has costs; for a photograph made in a public space those costs are carried in part by the subject. Other forms of expression have associated costs. Millner clearly takes issue with Winogrand; as the subject of her rant his work bears a certain albeit incalculable cost. In the United States, these costs have been balanced carefully against the value of expression. Courts have decided that expression in the public space outweighs the individual’s interest in privacy because expression is so valuable to society.

    While each photographer has to decide how best to work, we would all do well to keep in mind the larger values at stake. I do not want to encourage anyone to use an aggressive approach or antagonize the people in their images. I do want to provide a brief reminder of the function of photography, as a form of protected expression, and how that expression balances against the concerns Millner and Colberg raise.

  182. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    A woman you do not know takes a picture of your twins without asking. You would…

    I would confront her or take her picture to show that it is wrong. 70

    I would assume she thought my twins were cute and it would not bother me. 18

    I would not confront her, but I would secretly be really mad. How creepy. 26

    Total Votes: 114

  183. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Read the following scenario and then choose your most likely response from the poll options

    You have taken your kids to a public place, such as a park, a beach, a public pool, a festival, etc., to enjoy the weekend. The venue is not densely crowded, and there are a few people, including myself, taking photographs. I am alone and am unobtrusively photographing other people at the venue, as well as some non-human subjects. You then see me turn my mirrorless camera toward you and your kids and take a few photos from 10-15 feet away. As I turn to my next subject, you approach me and ask me politely to please not photograph you or your kids, and I just as politely inform you that this is a public place and I will take pictures at my own discretion. A few minutes later, I take a few more photos of you and your kids. How do you respond?


    Call the police and report my actions
    27.1% 48 votes

    Physically harass me – put your hands on me or my gear, knowing I will probably resist
    5.6% 10 votes

    Verbally harass me – shout out insults and profanity at me, knowing others, including your kids, will hear you and scrutinize your behavior.
    6.2% 11 votes

    Take your kids and leave the immediate area where I am taking photographs
    29.9% 53 votes

    Stay in the area and ignore my unobtrusive photography
    18.1% 32 votes

    Other (please specify in the thread)
    13.0% 23 votes

  184. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Just read what actually street photographers say in the articles above and like this one here. ASK FIRST!

    How to Take Pictures in Public Without Being a Jerk
    Four seasoned practitioners give firsthand advice on etiquette for an Instagram world.

    SHAUNA MILLER @shaunajmiller Jul 15, 2014 6 Comments
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    Matt Dunn

    Last week, my mother casually texted me a photo of the back of an outlaw biker. She was out in a semi-rural part of Maryland, enjoying some crabs at a table adjacent to some members of The Pagans, the notorious motorcycle club. My very sweet mom sees beauty where others might see mortal danger, and the design on the group’s jackets caught her eye.

    “I hope you asked permission to take that!,” I texted back, panicked (and jealous I wasn’t hanging out somewhere as cool). She told me that she had; two members had refused, but one said he didn’t mind.

    My mother is hardly a street photographer, but she showed good instincts: Ask permission from your subject, explain your genuine interest, and you are less likely to get your ass kicked and more likely to get a great photo.

    (Joye Miller)
    Today, compulsory smartphone ownership means always having a camera at the ready and the option to post photos instantly on any number of platforms, reaching any number of people. But not everyone—fired radio host Anthony Cumia being this month’s prime example—has good judgement on when taking or posting a photo of a stranger is appropriate. Fewer still have the years of experience that seasoned street and party photographers rely on to make informed decisions before snapping or sending.

    Though street and party photography are as old as Weegee and Warhol, the medium really exploded once the internet came along. Between lastnightsparty on the East Coast and thecobrasnake on the West Coast, if you weren’t photographed by Merlin Bronques or Mark Hunter, respectively, while out on the town in the mid-2000s, you had failed at being young and fun. Those guys have put in their time, as have a few D.C.-based scene and street photographers who gave us some pointers on responsibly shooting strangers: Morgan Hungerford West, Franz Mahr, Matt Dunn, and Jeff Martin.

    DO communicate with your subjects.

    People tend to get creeped out when you’re taking photos of them and they have no idea why. Try to establish a dialogue.

    Morgan Hungerford West: When I started out doing streetstyle, I think the number one thing that worked for me was to be friendly and ask before even pulling out the camera. We were both entering a five-minute collaboration, and they had to be up for having their picture taken and they had to have trust that they’d be represented in a way they’d be happy with.

    Jeff Martin: For party photography, I’d say to really try to connect with people either before or after you take a shot if you don’t have permission to do it. People don’t like feeling manipulated or subject to something they didn’t expect. That’s when they feel violated. Once you come to the same conclusion that you’re both tying to make something fun or beautiful, or you explain what you thought was cool about them, it can turn into a really positive connection instead of someone taking something that wasn’t theirs to take.

    DON’T disregard a subject’s wishes regarding their image.

    It’s true that, if you’re in public, you can snap whatever you want. But that doesn’t mean you should be a jerk about it.

    Martin: With party photography, I’m never interested in stealing a photo of someone or sneaking a photo that a person would be uncomfortable having out there. If a person noticed I took a photo and gave me a bad look, that’s a situation I’d want to mitigate. We’d talk about it and either delete the photo or come to an agreement that the photo was OK with everyone.

    Franz Mahr: I’m from a photojournalism background, and it was pretty much drilled into my head that getting the shot is the absolutely most important priority, so I don’t stop myself from taking any photo. If you’re in public domain … I don’t have reservations about capturing somebody unless they see me and tell me, “No, don’t take my photo,” because then I’m going to be respectful.

    DON’T take up space.

    Seriously, down in front. The world doesn’t need another cell phone in the air for the entire duration of a concert.

    Mahr: Take your photo and move on. Don’t crowd the air with your mobile device as you are taking 10, 20, even 100 photos, which people are tending to do because they can. Be quick about it.

    DO become part of the environment—and respect it.

    You can’t be invisible, but you can inhabit the culture of the people and places that interest you.

    Dunn: A street photographer is not a paparazzo. You have to inhabit the street and not be a jackass. That means cool, be there, own it, [but] don’t get up in people’s faces. The best pictures come when people let their guard down. If you are all over the street like a bull in a china shop, you’re not going to get interesting work. Think about it like you’re a traveler, and you want to avoid that “Ugly American” stereotype. You want to understand the culture and blend in. It’s like the Hippocratic Oath: Do no harm. And leave no trace.

    Martin: As much as party photographers would like to be a fly on the wall, you are part of the environment. I think what makes people mad is when they feel you’re trying to control them in a way they do not want to be. They’re out having a good time, and for some people that means having their photo taken, and for others their identity is to go out and not have their photo taken.

    (Franz Mahr)
    DO consider the power and reach—and possible misuse—of your images.

    Images can go viral very quickly, and lose context and attribution in the process. Just like a professional photojournalist, make sure you have your story correct before launching an image that could be misconstrued.

    Mahr: If you’re going to be out and about, you need to be cautious about what you’re taking and how it actually represents a particular scene. For instance, I took a photo [at a concert at the National Zoo] of a security guard, and he was dragging this 18-year-old kid out. The first thing people would think is that it was police brutality. But it was exactly the opposite: This 100-pound kid was … enraged and started going off on the cops. That image could have represented the police in a really bad way if it was used maliciously. Which it really could have been.

    Hungerford West: At the end of the day, it’s about credibility. Whoever is using whatever platform has to have a set of rules they follow. If your thing is to take photos of people on the street and post them, then that’s what you do. It might raise some ire. But everybody has the right to document their life, and now it’s so much easier with the technology we have.

    DON’T actively try to catch people looking hammered.

    It’s not a good look, for them or for you. Aim higher.

    Martin: There’s been a few cases at parties I was covering where I’ve noticed that someone was visibly intoxicated and making a scene, and I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos of that person. It’s a tough judgment to decide whether someone is drinking and having a good time or whether they are not in control of themselves.

    Hungerford West: I’m always trying to be sensitive in the editing process. But what’s your end goal? If it’s to present an amazing shot of a show, and it happens to have two people in the corner making out who shouldn’t be making out with each other…

    (Matt Dunn)
    DO seek beauty.

    Think about what you’re trying to capture and why. Maybe even wait a minute to decide whether to post something.

    Dunn: In street style, there’s an understanding that you’re in public and there’s no expectation of privacy, so you can shoot anything. But that doesn’t mean you have to post everything you shoot. That’s the issue with a lot of social media: People post everything. And most of this stuff is going to be incredibly mediocre. You want to be out on the long tail, with the stuff that’s really dramatic and interesting. And you have to be a good editor of your work. The stuff that’s really good and beautiful, that’s not going to offend anybody. People will respect it. If you have a photograph and someone doesn’t look good, it’s not a good photograph.

    DO have passion.

    You’re taking these photos for a reason, right? Share it with your subjects.

    Dunn: The people you’re photographing need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing out there, that you’re pursuing a passion and a love. There’s no money in it, there’s no commerce connection. You’re doing it for love. It always behooves you to talk to people and let them know why you’re passionate about something. That really diffuses any situations that might come up and sets them at ease. The myth is that you’re invisible, but really you’re part of the event. But you don’t want to be the event.

    DON’T get stuck in an Instagram vortex.

    It’s hard to believe, but it is not actually your sole duty to chronicle everything at all times with your phone.

    Mahr: At first, I found [Instagram] really demotivating for me to continue with this craft. I like the idea of a lot people being interested in photography now, but I don’t like seeing a sea of cameras everywhere. More than anything, enjoy where you’re actually at and don’t get caught up trying to capture it all.

    Dunn: I have one post on Instagram. I’ll mess around with my phone and always end up thinking, “Wow this could’ve been good if I’d just used my camera.” I appreciate the immediacy and urgency of having a picture in real time. But my “real time” is a little slower. I took a photo at an event last night, and now it’s on [a website] the next morning, with a whole story with it. And I know I took the best possible picture

  185. Andy July 30, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    @Dirk Ok, we got it. You are saying that United States of America are becoming increasingly paranoid and suspicions of anything out of ordinary. Especially so when it comes to kids and especially so when it comes to photography. Especially people who vote on babycenter discussion forums (which are quite a lot biased toward helicoptering). Any contact between stranger and kid tend to be treated as an attack in some communities.

    What we are saying is that it is recent cultural development that is so far limited to some places in your country. It is part of larger paranoia trend and we would prefer if it stayed contained where it is and did not infected more parts of the world. Especially parts where we are staying in.

    Note that people who vote stranger vs baby discussion forums polls are bound to be biased toward paranoia, cause that is the type of person those forums attract. If you would let people vote in here you would get drastically different result.

    If you would ask people in Germany or French or Canada or China or Japan, you would get drastically different results too. I bet there are still plenty of people in USA who see no problem, cause I had seen plenty of amateur American street photography.

  186. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    China? Yeah. I don’t live in China. You are taking an extreme position in response to an extreme position.

  187. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Andy, the second poll is from a photography website.

    It isn’t about paranoia. It is about taking an extreme position that is crazy and not realizing that maybe, just maybe you should say hi to someone or acknowledge that taking a picture of someone who wouldn’t think anyone is watching them and without their knowledge isn’t super cool in most caess. Even in Germany.

  188. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Hi Andy, here is an article from lonely planet…a travel website saying to ASK FIRST!

    The etiquette of photographing strangers
    by RICHARD I'ANSON· 16 May 2012
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    Photographing strangers can be daunting, but it needn’t be. Most people are happy to be photographed. Some photographers ask before shooting, others don’t. It’s a personal decision, often decided on a case-by-case basis.

    Here are a few factors to consider when taking pictures of people.

    Asking for permission

    Asking permission allows you to use the ideal lens, get close enough to fill the frame, and provides the opportunity to take several shots, as well as to communicate with your subject if necessary.

    It also means you know you’re not photographing someone against their wishes. Asking for permission may lead to a refusal, which can be disappointing but should be accepted with good grace. If you are refused do not assume that everyone else in the vicinity will also refuse. Of course, you should make sure there aren’t any religious or cultural reasons that discourage or prohibit photography. If in doubt, ask a local.

    How to approach people

    How you approach people will affect the outcome of your request for a photo. Simply smiling and holding your camera up is usually sufficient to get your intention across. You may choose to learn the phrase for asking permission in the local language, but it can be less effective than sign language (when you have to repeat the sentence 10 times to make yourself understood). Approach the person with confidence and a smile. When you get the go-ahead, shoot quickly. You’ll increase the possibility of capturing more spontaneous and natural images.

    Taking control of the situation

    There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing someone you think would make a great photograph, only for them to change position when they realise you want to photograph them. Don’t be afraid to take control of the situation and ask the person to look at you, or away, or at what they’re doing. Demonstrate the pose you want by doing it yourself. If your subject is wearing a hat in a sunny location half of their face will be in heavy shadow; ask them to look up slightly or to push the hat back a bit.

    Helping your subject relax

    If people stiffen up in front of the camera, it’s up to you to get them to relax. Take one frame however they have posed themselves, then wait or talk to them before trying again. Remember, you’re aiming to take a beautiful shot of someone and they’ll not only understand but be delighted when they see how good they look on the LCD screen.

    The benefits of the direct approach

    The direct approach of asking permission results in more satisfactory images than trying to sneak them from a distance. People will be more suspicious of your intentions and less co-operative if they spot you pointing a long lens from the shadows. You still have to be fairly close, even with a 200mm lens, to get a frame-filling portrait. It’s best to be open about what you’re doing.

    If you’re hesitant, a good way to get started with portraits is to photograph people who provide goods or services to you. After a rickshaw ride, or buying something from a market stall, ask the person if you can take their photo. Very rarely will they refuse.

    Saying thank you

    Finally, showing your subject the results on the camera’s LCD screen is a great way to say thank you and, assuming you’ve taken a flattering photo, leave them with a positive memory of their encounter with you.

    To pay or not to pay?

    In popular destinations you could be asked for money in return for taking a photo. This may be considered a fair and reasonable exchange by some or a tiresome annoyance by others, or it may simply discourage you from photographing people. Ultimately you’ll have to come up with a personal response.

    Certainly, don’t hand out money (or sweets, pens or anything else for that matter) if it’s not requested, but if it is be prepared to pay or walk away. From a photographer’s point of view it really comes down to how important or unique the potential image is. Agree on the price beforehand to avoid problems afterwards and make sure you’re working in the local economy, not yours. It goes without saying that bargaining is compulsory at this point.

    Always have coins and small denomination notes with you in an easily accessible pocket (a different pocket from where you carry the rest of your money) so that you don’t have to pull out great wads of money, confirming not only that you are relatively rich (as if the camera hadn’t already done that) but more importantly, where you actually keep your money, making it much easier for someone who may want to relieve you of it.

    Read more:

  189. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Lonely Planet is hardhearted in Australia.

  190. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Hungary law requires photographers to ask permission to take pictures…

  191. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    The Independent (a UK newspaper) called taking pictures of strangers bizarre citing a recent study that 1 out of 12 UK adults have done so. Not only is it bizarre then but also very much an in a relative minority think to do in the UK!

  192. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Street photography in France has all but disappeared due to strict privacy laws.

  193. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    In Germany most street photography showing identifiable persons is now illegal and can’t be taken or published lawfully.

    The reasoning is that the individual holds the right the control their public image. Taking photos containing persons is illegal in Germnay unless the people you are taking pictures of have agreed, the pictures are taken during a public event, or the picture contains 6 or more people.

  194. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:43 am #


  195. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Just complete FYI Andy, of the Germany France Canada China Japan list you made. It is illegal to take a strangers picture without permission in Gernmany, France, and Japan, and Canada requires permission in certain provinces. It is only completely legal in China which is meaningless since China is an oppressive communist totalitarian state. Things aren’t what you think they are on this issue.

    Of course this is just the legality of it. Public opinion is probably better represented by the UK newspaper article that called taking pictures of strangers without permission as bizarre.

  196. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    Of course let me just repeat my point from all along. Legal (in the US) to take pictures of strangers = yes. Is it kind of rude to take someones picture as the focus of your photo without consent of some form = yes. Tourist pics of locals aside taking pictures of random strangers is rude.

  197. LRH July 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Here’s my poll.

    People who keep pushing their wrong take on things with seemingly slanted evidence and ever-mounting in its nature, done to justify their ignorance by showing that others are equally as ignorant or in the wrong as they are, such persons should:

    √ Continue posting ad nauseam
    √ Make their point up to a certain degree, and then settle down awhile
    √ Go the heck away and shut the eff up already

    Feel free to vote.

  198. Becky July 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    As an amateur photographer, stories like this freak me out. I know my rights (I’m an attorney by day), but knowing I have every legal right to photograph people in public won’t stop some crazy mom from attacking me.

    Just the other day I was at the splash park with my family. I had one of my less fancy cameras (I don’t take the nice ones near water) primarily for taking photos of my daughter and husband. However, I saw this one girl – probably 12 or 13 – off playing by herself in the water. She was in her own little world, enjoying the summer day and the cool refreshment surrounding her. She was beautiful. I took her photo without her seeing me. Her back was turned. If it turns out nice in post-processing (I think I’ll make it greyscale for effect), I might keep it. Or maybe not. But while I was taking it I had to think to myself, “I wonder if her mother is somewhere nearby and will beat the stuffing out of me if she figures out what I did.”

    If I ever was in this sort of situation, what I’d probably do is show the photos to the requesting parent, and ask if they’d like me to email them copies.

  199. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Hey LRH,

  200. hineata July 30, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Well Dirk, that last article was interesting. Obviously you feel passionately that photographing strangers is weird. You’re bringing up all sorts of weird and wonderful articles to back up your point of view. Marvelous what copy and paste can do.

    In the meantime I’ll keep encouraging my husband to take random photos of strangers because in my experience much of the world does not find doing so weird. In spite of what some random articles you’ve copied and pasted.

    Andy – looking forward to taking your photo if we ever get to the Czech republic, obviously a non-paranoid area so we should make it a priority – we’ll take you and your’s out for a beer afterward :-) .

  201. hineata July 30, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    ‘copied and pasted say’ ……

    Wish there was some kind of correct button on this site.

  202. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Czech Republic?!? Did you say Czech Republic Hineata? You need consent in the Czech Republic.

    In the Czech Republic taking a picture of a person in a public space requires consent if the person is identifiable (with exceptions for legal official use, scientific use, artistic use and news reporting). Any consent given may be revoked at any time.

    PS. When you take someone out for a beer…it means they aren’t strangers. Get it? There is a difference between being open to meeting people and walking up to them and snapping a picture and walking away.

  203. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Another way to judge the sentiment of street photography (outside of the actual laws they have against it) is to see anecdotally how the country responded to google street view.

    In the case of the Czech Republic they responded very negatively.

    “”Street View” provides Internet users with panoramic views and photographs of neighborhoods along many streets across the globe. It is popular but has been controversial in Germany, South Korea and other countries amid fears that people – filmed without their consent – could be seen doing things they want to keep private or being in places where they don’t want to be seen.”

  204. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    The things I have linked to aren’t random. They are direct refutation of FACTS that contradict the false information in some peoples comments.

    People shouldn’t live in fear. But they shouldn’t live in denial either. Don’t take an extremist position against another extremist position. It never works.

  205. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    The things I have linked to aren’t random. They are direct refutation FACTS that contradict the false information in some peoples comments.

    People shouldn’t live in fear. But they shouldn’t live in denial either. Don’t take an extremist position against another extremist position. It never works.

  206. E July 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    @LRH, how’s the view up there from you high horse?

    It’s not ignorant AT ALL. It’s called a different opinion. I’m not going to inundate you with links/excerpts but there are TONS of respected professional photographers who share the opinion that “don’t be a jerk” is a proper advice for people taking photos of others.

    Chase Jarvis is one and he’s hardly a random non-relevant photo dude. I’m familiar with him via the Photo Focus blog but I decided to look at his website last night. Found this in his tips for Street Photography:

    ” I always prefer to be a good human than to be unpleasant. On just a handful of occasions in my entire career (I can think of 2 in this sitting…) has anyone asked me to delete a snapshot of them. In this case – despite it being my right to have ‘taken’ the photo (NOTE – ok to ‘take’ the photo in a public space but not ok to later USE or display the photo by law without proper permissions…), I have–during both those rare occasions–deleted it with a smile and a shrug as I showed it to them.”

    Remember, he’s a pro photographer so his point about “USE” is directed at people who make a living from photography.

    He’s got a lengthy, helpful, and reasonable suggestions about street photography.

    So it’s too bad we can’t ask Chase himself — so you could tell him how he’s “ignorant” and “wrong”.

    But I guess I’m not surprised at your name calling. It probably explains why you’d be rude to total strangers about their image too.

    Bottom line….the image wouldn’t exists w/o 2 parties…the photographer and the subject. Unless you are the press, it’s kind of a bummer that one of those parties would be a jerk to the other…without whom the image doesn’t exist to begin with.

  207. LRH July 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    I’m just glad I live in the USA, and not Hungary, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, or anywhere Dirk or the like would be the ruler of the law. Give me Andy, Becky or hineata any day. Just because people are losing their minds in those countries doesn’t mean that brains became irrelevant. Thinking never goes out of style, for those who know how to think anyway.


  208. hineata July 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    @Dirk – now you’ve got me interested. What sort of job do you have that you can waste so much time linking to random stuff on the net? I am a grad student and part time teacher, and have just spent the past few days at school doing volunteer stuff so am granting myself a lazy late start (it is after eight here ) but by my reckoning it should still be work time in the States….even if you are a day in my past.

    And really… consider random internet articles facts?

    Have a great day, and be sure to wave at my hubby as he takes photos of your kids. He’ll be the good looking Chinese guy with the long pony tail and dark glasses, followed by three stunning teens you’d want photos of too – at least if the number of strangers who’ve sweetly asked or actually demanded photos with them are anything to go by. And like Warren noted earlier, they still seem to have their souls. Except maybe Miss Snotty Thirteen, if her current range of snarly expressions mean anything.

  209. Beth July 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    Sigh. Could we please have a posts-per-day limit?

  210. Dirk July 30, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    It takes two seconds to google something find a reputable enough source (wikipedia, national geographic, a travel guide, etc). Nothing random about it. I mean, no less random that If people are going to talk crazy talk or just make stuff up that isn’t true then what is the point.

    Tell your hubby not to be rude. People are particular about the visual medium. Just take a look at all the non random advice from street photographers I cut and pasted. They say to get consent.

  211. hineata July 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    @Beth – okay, big hugs, going to stop now and get on with doing something more meaningful, like beginning the day :-).

    @Dirk – you go and have a good day, and try to stop taking your own opinion, backed up by sites that share your opinion, as fact. I’ll go on encouraging hubby to enjoy his hobby :-). In my opinion, it’s a good hobby.

  212. E July 30, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    @hineata , Dirk is presenting some information, but only presenting his opinion as clear opinion. It’s LRH that is claiming their viewpoint is “right” and others are “ignorant”.

    @Beth, just skip the particular post if you’ve seen enough?

  213. Donna July 30, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    E – No, I think Dirk has pretty consistently said that taking pictures of strangers is weird and we are wrong to think otherwise. He may not call people who disagree with him stupid, but he definitely think we are wrong.

  214. Warren July 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    I would love to know where Dirk and E live.

    I would offer rewards for any and all photos taken of them, on the condition the photographer was a complete stranger to them.

    I would also like to have a shrink look at their posts on this subject, and make recomendations.

  215. hineata July 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    There seems to be a misunderstanding about what constitutes fact and what constitutes opinion. If someone is 6’4″, then it is a fact that they are 6’4″. If someone is ‘rude’, that is opinion, not fact.

    It is fact, Dirk, that you found some opinion pieces and some surveys that show that some people some places find taking photos of strangers rude. The fact that they find it rude does not make taking pictures of strangers factually rude. It means that there are people in the world who share your opinion that taking photos of strangers is rude.

    Following me? I will use another example. In parts of Malaysia that I have been, it is not considered rude to stare at people. I personally do not like being stared at, and I haven’t met a white person who enjoys it, in fact who doesn’t hate it. That does not mean that it is a fact that it is rude to stare at people – the ‘fact’ there is that I could do a study and discover that white people (as an example) do not like being stared at.

    Do you see the difference between fact and opinion?

  216. Beth July 31, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    Fine, I get it. I guess I’ll have to live with the shame of being the only one not totally and completely fascinated by every one of Dirk’s posts!!

  217. E July 31, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    Oh Warren, if you’ve read my posts….*I* don’t have a problem with someone taking my photo on the street. I’m a photo hobbyist myself and take photos of all sorts..including those of strangers from time to time.

    I don’t think it should be against the law.

    None of this means I don’t allow for the fact that other people feel differently (and that I’d respect that if asked). That’s all.

  218. Dirk July 31, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    To whoever commented on facts and opinions…

    Rudeness and weirdness is indeed an opinion. Der. But there are majority and minority opinions that make up common practices. Of course opinions change over time.

  219. Dirk July 31, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Warren, I was just thinking how funny it would be if someone did walk up to me and snap a picture and walk away after all this talking! LOL for real.

    I do think there has been a bit of overkill on all this. Walk up to me and snap a picture and walk away = weird. Walk up to me and say hey you have a great shirt on, I take street photography as a hobby can I take your picture = might be different. Etc. Etc.

    I point to the non random articles I cut and pasted and linked from actual street photographers saying to interact with your subjects and not act aggressive or creepy…

  220. Warren July 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Do you think it is possible that you were abl to find articles supporting you views, because that stance is out of the ordinary?
    I doubt there are nearly as many articles about it being normal and accepted. Because face it, no one rights articles about normal, accepted, or just regular things. They right about issues that go against the norm.

  221. hineata July 31, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    @Dirk -‘to the one’ talking about fact and opinion:

    I have a name, stated above my post. Now you’re being ‘rude’ and ‘weird’ lol, and I’m sure I could link to surveys that ‘fact’ if I cared at all :-) .

    Have a great day :-)

  222. Dirk July 31, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    No, neither of you could do what you are talking about. Basically there is nothing to back anything you say up.

  223. hineata August 1, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    Oh good grief! The point is I don’t need to back up what I am saying, because I am quite clear that what I’m saying is an opinion. You have consistently confused opinion with fact. You have not produced anything factual, because it is impossible to produce facts about something that is opinion – except for what you have produced, which is the fact that some people share your opinion about a particular topic.

    Never mind, as all this seems to escape you, I really should find a more constructive use of my time.

  224. Dirk August 1, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    I’ve produced three types of facts.

    1) The actual laws pertaining to street photography in countries where others commentators thought would be more open to street photography (France, Germany, Czeck Republic). They were wrong.

    2) Articles by professional and respected street photographers (for example from National Geographic) who all say to not take pictures of people secretly and that if they ask you not to you should stop. They say to ask for consent and to talk to them and not be a creep.

    3) Articles from mainstream newspapers that showed that taking pictures of strangers was in the minority. And that it was considered bizarre to do so without permission.

  225. Dirk August 1, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    The first one is a straight up fact, laws.

    The second is indeed opinion, of professional photographers. It is a fact that it seems to be a majority opinion.

    The third is not opinion because it deals with a percentage of people who have taken a picture of people without the persons knowledge (and therefore consent). But the article seemed to express that the minority of people who did this were acting bizarre, which I guess us indeed an opinion…about a fact.

  226. LRH August 1, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Still at it, are we?

    Well so be it. A majority of people think a lot of things that are stupid sometimes. A majority of people I see around here anyway think your children being in the car even for 5 seconds even if it’s 65’F and cloudy and even if it’s a “pay for gas” situation, they think such parents are total monsters and should not be allowed to be parents. A majority of people love cheese on their hamburger, when I despise it. Around here, a majority of people practically worship football, and I hate it. The same goes for Dr. Pepper.

    Big deal.


  227. Dirk August 1, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    You need to do a better job of changing majority opinions then.

  228. LRH August 1, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    No way, it’s not my job to make other people less ignorant. That’s THEIR job.

  229. This website certainly has all the information I wajted about this subject and
    didn’t kjow who to ask.

  230. Someone August 4, 2014 at 8:25 am #


  231. Someone August 4, 2014 at 8:26 am #


  232. Someone August 4, 2014 at 8:26 am #


  233. Someone August 4, 2014 at 9:05 am #


  234. Someone August 4, 2014 at 9:05 am #