Should Street Photography be Illegal?

Should Street Photography be Illegal?

Street photographer Joshua Rosenthal found himself at the center of a rage-fueled campaign by visitors to the Ventura County Fair. Rosenthal’s transgression? Photographing people – including some children – in public without explicit consent. 

Street photography has a long history of candidly capturing subjects, but in today’s climate, does intent matter? In this episode of Vision Slightly Blurred, Sarah and Allen contemplate the work of photographers Daniel Arnold, Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, Susan Meiselas, Philip Lorca Dicorcia, Vivan Maier, and Martha Cooper. 

We mention the following photographers, articles, and websites in this episode:

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Eugenia D'Ambrosio at 10:14 am

    Could not open the article. Might want to make some adjustments so the tabs can be read.

    Street Photography has had to make some adjustments with the changing climate of our world. When I am out shooting:

    I make sure that I don’t photograph children.
    I keep my camera visible

    These are the two basics that I keep in my, especially as a female photographer. I live in a big city so it can be easier to make the shot and catch that wonderful moment.

    Today Street photography is more of a challenge but it can be done, and with respect.

    Eugenia D’Ambrosio

  2. David Noah at 9:36 pm

    Some questions about the ethics of street photography:

    Do you own the light that bounces off your face?
    What is the connection between you and an image of yourself?
    What if I were a ‘street artist’ and could glance at you and make a representational drawing–would the ethical considerations change?
    What if I wrote down what you looked like to me, instead?

  3. Pingback: Should Street Photography be Illegal? – PhotoShelter Blog – The Click
  4. Pamela Kelso at 2:00 pm

    This is the only form agreeable to me, “What if I wrote down what you looked like to me, instead?” and only then never published it.

    Maybe the muons are affecting our brains strangely but as usual it is not the medium it is how it is used and there is no control over that expect in extreme instances. Once an image is published there are countless ways it can be used, explained and examined and all can be very different from the actual person and in some cases put their lives in disarray or actually danger. Even if you personally know the story of the person in the image that doesn’t mean that as it travels everyone else who see it does.

    I was in a print shop once, long before I started my photography and saw a beautiful photograph of two lovers in a street café . They were obviously very connected. I stood there staring at it, taking in the beauty but all I could think was it was horrible because they might not be married to each other and what an invasion of their privacy it was.

    My grandmother, of some type of indigenous descent, refused any pictures of her and would tear them up if she found them because she said they weren’t her. A few managed to survive and my mother and aunts were good at stealth photographing her.

    I, personally dislike street photography, taking or being caught in it. Although I did take a video recently of a crane doing some amazing work dismantling an outside elevator recently and there were some people involved but that, to me, is not the type of street photography in question here.

    I particularly am dis-fond of photographing all the street “memorials” where mass murders occurred. I also think it should be against the law to produce things to sell at those sites, or online, that attempt to memorialize them.

  5. A Nonimus at 7:06 pm

    The Cartier Bresson’s picture, with the kid holding a bottle of wine is an open commercial for alcoholic kid …
    The little kid ring in the back of a bicycle ( in France and in the same time period ) should be illegal and the kid should have been wearing an helmet and the photographer must be in jail….
    We are too far. ( or as the addage say, in America: what ever you said will be use again you. so sh… your mouth and stop bringing your camera ).
    Sick or pervert people should not make the rules.
    It’s the 1st time I make a comment on your web or any other website.
    Maybe I am not the only one, and saying saying it’s a duplicate is your way or refuting argument ?

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