Dina Litovsky on the “Sticky Issue of Consent” in Street Photography
Dina Litovsky built a career on observing candid moments of various subcultures – with some of her best work taken candidly on the streets of New York. A few weeks after a photo taken by one of her former students, Paul Kessel, caused a ruckus on Twitter, Litovsky chimed in on the subject while also referencing two past articles on the subject of ethics and the legality of street photography.
In this episode of Vision Slightly Blurred, Sarah and Allen continue the discussion of photography and ethics.
Also in the show: Drew Gurian reveals how he captured Yo-Yo Ma for MasterClass and Aperture and Paris Photo announced their photo book awards.
We mention the following photographers, articles, and websites in this episode:
- How Drew Gurian Captured Yo-Yo Ma for MasterClass
- Drew Gurian
- Announcing the Winners of the 2021 PhotoBook Awards (via Aperture)
- Untitled by Sasha Phyars-Burgess
- What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843–1999
- Street Photography’s Snakes on a Train?
- The Sticky Issue of Consent in Street Photography
- Hold On to Your Masks (via NYT)
- Photographing Strangers, Part 1
- Photographing Strangers, Part 2
I am glad you retreated a bit from your previous position but you continue to carelessly suggest motives. (Take pictures to get into contest and win praise). The foremost reasons I take candid photos are twofold; (1) I enjoy it and ( 2) I strive for an interesting photo and care about composition, light, background, and unique subject matter.
What follows is secondary, admittedly sometimes gratifying, but is not on my mind as I shoot ( a camera/not at all a “gun”). Further, if one of you is not knowledgeable about street photography, I suggest you disqualify yourself from talking about it on a podcast.
There is clearly a lack of knowledge and preparation to speak about the topic!
The speakers clearly need more preparation to speak about street photography!
Thanks for engaging in conversation with this in the follow-up. Interesting to hear your thoughts!
I shoot nature. It never complains.
Being someone who has been forced to take public transportation after have a car all my life, riding in a bus felt like a huge invasion of my privacy from the moment I stepped on until I got off. In your car you can fart, burp, have a bad hair day, wrangle tired cranky kids or pets, pick your nose and just have this surrounding area of non-inclusion. On public transportation, in addition to having to wrap your life around their schedule, you have no privacy to just rest, think or try to gain your strength for the rest of the day.
To add dodging people trying to take pictures of all of that is very insulting to me.
But that is just me.
What a ramble. A tempest in a teapot. Who cares why the guy took the photo and who cares what he did with it? A person has no expectation of privacy in a public place and it isn’t against the law to take photos. If you personally don’t want to take photos in public then don’t do it. It’s your own personal opinion.
The response to Dina’s shyness gets misrepresented on this podcast. He said “who cares” to the fact that Dina was shy. He was right, nobody cares if you can’t make the images you mean to do because you are shy or because you arrived late or forgot your battery.
The images of Bruce Gilden are a reaction to his personal background, he had a monstrous perception of his parents and in certain way of himself, you don’t get him, that’s the fact.
The street photographer is not about making photos of whatever to win contests. Children are great street photography subjects! check the work of Helen Levitt. You need to be more knowleadgeable about the topic to speak about it.
Are we into the pretty bland art camp?
A bunch of photographers got together and codified some rules of engagement for capturing street photography. You can’t follow anyone around for an hour because that’s creepy. You can’t shoot 30fps because that’s creepy, and proves you have no talent. You can wait in the same spot to work the scene and take a few frames every couple of minutes. These rules are great, but also arbitrary as they are in any subgenre of photography (e.g. don’t bait animals (wildlife photography), don’t clone (PJ), etc).
Street photography has been essential in many ways for capturing the zeitgeist of an era – and I very much like looking at NYC street photography from decades past. But it’s silly to me to not consider the consequences of taking and publishing a photo in an age where we are more than aware of how photography has been used to advance and maintain stereotypes from its inception (e.g. the Zealy daguerreotypes) to now (e.g. the Environmental Photography of the Year).
But who is who to police the merit and right of a photographer to make and publish a photo? Almost two billion photos are posted online every day, many of them contain strangers to the photographer or the pubisher.
This whole discussion is a meaningless storm in a tea-cup. In-Public, the antonym of In-Private, has no expectation of privacy. The minute one goes out the door to be In-Public, they have tacitly accepted the fact that the whole world can see them. The In-Public people are responsible for what they want to present as their public-face and not the surrounding public or photographers’ problem.
Behaviour, attitude, mode of dress, the other gestures/idiosyncrasies are all freely visible to the the world, whilst photographers’ ethics/reasons for making the image are purely personal and subjective, so “who cares?”.
Paul Kessel’s image is a fabulous story of family intimacy and I personally am very pleased that it has become the focal point of this debate, because I probably would have missed this superb Candid People In-Public Street Photograph as would so many others.