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Spying on the neighbours

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by Spuff, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    I was further having fun my new m.Zuiko 40-150 yesterday, not with the thought of keepers, but these two I thought nice.
    Not sharp, but in a way the long view the noise helps make evident I think enhances the voyeuristic nature of these.
    Also made me appreciate the brick work of these buildings around me more, now I bring up the contrast a little.

    Taken through my dirty window.
     
  2. petach

    petach Mu-43 Top Veteran

    503
    Feb 18, 2011
    UK
    To be honest mate? I am not sure it is a good idea to take a telephoto shot of your street neighbours and then post the results (without their permission I assume?) for all and sundry to see. If my neighbour did that to me, I would be very unhappy and he/she would know exactly how unhappy I would be.
     
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  3. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    That's something I didn't really think about.
     
  4. pdh

    pdh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    598
    May 6, 2010
    I tend to agree (plus the car reg)
     
  5. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    That was indeed a salutary think me up (spying was meant jokingly).
    Sunday brain. Embarrassed.

    The second one wasn't a resident. Just a delivery person.
     
  6. petach

    petach Mu-43 Top Veteran

    503
    Feb 18, 2011
    UK
    Think of it this way mate. Would you cross the road, knock on the door and tell them you took their picture and put it up on the internet? No, I don't think so. Why don't you just delete the post/pictures entirely.

    I am trying to be kind and impart some sage advice. Your original post is wrong for so many reasons.
     
  7. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    My previous post was trying to say I took your point and I feel embarrassed at my lack of thought.

    The material is no longer there, and I have deleted it from the image hosting site.
    I'm not going to delete the original post, as much I was like it to never to have happened, because this thread may serve as an reminder of these issues for anyone else of a similarly lapsed mind as mine.
    When I talked about voyeurism, I meant it like it was like a voyeuristic image, not that I was actually trying to seedily engage in voyeurism. I liked the photos having people in because they add interest, I wasn't trying to spy (this was the first full day of having this lens and I was keenly testing it out).

    (the photos, to anyone reading who did not see them, showed people outside of the buildings, in public view, not doing anything they were ashamed to be seen doing)
    If these were great images that might be widely distributed then I certainly would knock on their door and ask the person's permission, and I would be honest about exactly what I did.
     
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  8. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Tom
    Strange thread; I'm not sure what to make of it. Especially since there's a long-running "The Real Street Thread" which seems to violate the same standards of privacy at the very top of the Recent Discussions list.

    I'm not passing judgement at all, just thinking out loud about the ethics of taking pictures of people without their consent.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    There's a different legal standard for taking photos of people in public places than in their homes or even on their own private property (like in their yards or something). Ethical standards vary by person. I know that I feel no compunction about taking photos of others in public and would not care if I ended up in a photo taken in a public place or event where or when I happened to be present. Photos on my own patio or in my own home are a totally different thing...

    -Ray
     
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  10. Briar

    Briar Mu-43 Regular

    117
    Jun 13, 2010
    Bonnie Scotland
    I'm a little puzzled at this thread. What is the difference between you posting a picture of a neighbour in the street without their permission, and posting a picture of a stranger on the street without their permission? I wouldn't do it myself (the neighbour I mean)... but that's because I wouldn't like my neighbour knocking on my door complaining about my posting their picture on the net without their permission. A stranger on the street isn't likely to do that because they wouldn't know who the photographer was. Doesn't make it right, when you think about it, to post either but strangers do seem to be fair game in street photography. Is that right?
     
  11. petach

    petach Mu-43 Top Veteran

    503
    Feb 18, 2011
    UK
    Hi, I think the issue is the boundary between public and private. I would not expect a right to privacy in the public street. I am on show to all and sundry, so whether I am caught for a fleeting second in the retina of a strangers eye, or for ever as part of a portfolio....it makes no difference to me. However, I do expect privacy in my own home boundaries. The guy was probabaly unwise to use the term "spying on my neighbours" as his heading for the post, but even if he hadn't there is something faintly unsavoury about using a long lens through a window to pot shot your neighbours in the privacy of their own home/garden etc
     
  12. petach

    petach Mu-43 Top Veteran

    503
    Feb 18, 2011
    UK
    In the photos, the neighbour was in his own front garden, as was the delivery driver. For me, that is a boundary beyond which (out of a sense of politeness and instinct that it was wrong) I will not breach.
     
  13. Briar

    Briar Mu-43 Regular

    117
    Jun 13, 2010
    Bonnie Scotland
    It does get me thinking though ... how many times have I taken "street photography" of people at their windows/gardens/doors while on holiday and just thought of it as a holiday snap of a different culture .... where somehow that doesn't seem morally/ethically wrong, but in my own backyard (street) its different. Does give me food for thought as to situations where those ethical boundaries have been broken without me even thinkiing about it at the time.
     
  14. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    Thanks for the debate. I wonder about the same things.

    The people I took the pictures of were indeed in the equivalent of a front yard, but these are tarmaced areas with in one case a 2 foot wall and a gap, and the other a tall wall but with a large gap (the photo including a delivery person). The mainly contentious photo shows someone standing having a cigarette.
    The people were fully visible to anyone walking along the street and to all the traffic on this busy road.
    The buildings have private back gardens and I presume anyone concerned about being seen would carry out such business in the garden.
    I think I was definitely wrong not to blank out the house numbers and car registration that were visible, but that of course can be done. There is the issue here of the recognisable image of someone who clearly resides at or is visiting a traceable address (you could trace it by looking back through all my posts and looking around my area), but there is a legal requirement to be on the electoral register though in the UK when canvassed and anybody's address who is on the register can be traced through this.
    I am fairly certain the person in the photo was a tenant and where he was is not his private property or dwelling, although it is privately owned property.

    As far as I know the photos I took were legal. I was not on someone else's private property and the people in them clearly did not have an expectation of privacy in what they were doing, whether or not they may have had no expectation of photos being taken without their knowledge and being put on the internet.
    How such an image differs from identifiable people in public locations, who may not have seen you about to take a photo and whose permission you did not get, I am not sure.

    If I was walking down a street and someone was gardening in the front garden, I wouldn't take a photo of them without asking their permission, although it may be legal to do so. You kind of feel that sort of thing. It didn't feel wrong to take and post the photos I did, but that doesn't necessarily make it right. I now feel it better I removed them.

    Addition:
    I thought it would be safe for info to show my photos with the identifying aspects removed.
    At least you can admire the work of the Edwardian bricklayers, if probably not the photos.

    <IMG height=300 src="http://img87.imageshack.us/img87/5853/bricks1.jpg[/img]380>
    Delivery:
    <IMG height=300 src="http://img101.imageshack.us/img101/8144/bricks2.jpg[/img]380>
    My street for context:
    <IMG height=300 src="http://img39.imageshack.us/img39/3334/cemlowm.jpg[/img]380>
     
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  15. Monday morning ponderance (well it's Monday morning for me anyway).

    Let's say for argument's sake that it is cool to photograph someone without their permission on the street, but not in their home. Now looking through flickr recently I find that a relatively common theme of American street photography is the documentation of homelessness. Now from the point of view understanding society's problems this is certainly useful in showing how the system is failing so many people, but my question is; are they being being photographed a) on the the street, or b) in their 'homes'?

    I don't see it as right or wrong and I do appreciate being made aware of the issue through photography but based on the discussion so far in this thread I just wonder where people believe the distintion is.

    Thanks
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Spuff


    I did see your shots before you took them down - which was the right thing to do... but I am glad you kept the thread open as it does raise issues that should be considered.

    Those of you who know me know i do take street photographs.. ie photos of people in public places without their express consent.

    However... before posting any pictures I do consider whether in my opinion that a picture

    a) has any artistic merit - which i agree is a subjective call
    b) captures a unique moment in time - dont think I have managed many of those yet
    c) Illustrates effectively and distinctly a particular technical aspect of camera or lens
    d) will not obviously offend the subject or portray them in a way that would be deemed to be offensive

    sadly spuff your pictures failed to satisfy at least 3 of these criteria

    The joy of this forum is people sharing their images and their approaches to photography and their opinions. We all have different standards of what is correct - and this is only mine

    Indeed what is 'correct' can be nebulous...and sometimes cultural. I posted a photo recently on the graffiti thread...

    someone expressed that it made them uncomfortable... I asked why and they pointed out that the image was actually taken from an image of an infamous UK murderer.

    I had not realised this when I took the picture - even though I was aware of the person historiclly... I had just captured and posted an image that i believed to have some artistic/technical merit


    K
     
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  17. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Nic, You bring up a very good point about the homeless. The street is more than likely their home. Unfortunately, their home is in the Public Domain. That's actually the sad part about the situation. A sleeping uncaring public. Not all but many, including those that could make change. All of my homeless images go to an advocacy group. They always did and always will.

    On the topic of neighbors.... it's true that if your neighbor is outside and you make an image it's almost the same thing as them being on the street....OR IS IT?

    On many Image Quest I have stressed the importance of..."Intent".

    If your intent is Spying on the neighbors, then that's what you did...(I'm talking to everybody now)...
    If your intent was to make a street type image of the neighbors, then that's what you do.
    So, with intent on this subject, The INTENT was spying on the neighbors. It may still be legal but certainly is RUDE at the least.

    Intent is everything. There is nothing more important and if you ever get into a hassel with anyone, the Intent of the image is what you will be arguing about.
     
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  18. Thanks for your reply, Don. I have heard you say before that you work for an advocacy group and I'm glad that answered the question from your perspective (and hopefully did not take offence by it). It was just a question that formed in my mind based on Ray's definition of public vs private property and I was curious to hear other opinions. I don't think I would feel comfortable doing that style of photography but then I would only be doing it to produce an image, not directly to help the cause of the homeless.
     
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  19. sblehm

    sblehm Mu-43 Regular

    37
    Aug 28, 2010
    this is why I prefer to take pics of things over people (my kids excluded). I've never heard anyone talk about the privacy of a butterfly.
     
  20. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    There's a difference between the legality of something, and the morality of the same action. To me personally, there's a presumption of privacy for someone inside their home, whether or not you can see them from the outside. I don't take photos of that activity. Out in public, everyone's fair game.