Is aggressive street photography ethical?

Today I’m talking about the morality of
a specific type of street photography. Fujifilm announced the X100V camera.
Really interesting camera. I had the version F, which was nice but a lot of
upgrades! There promo videos… They had different photographers. And there’s one
specific photographer that’s very into the street photography. One of the
photographers that I’m subscribed to on this channel is Samuel. He’s into the
street photography and he actually did a video with Tatsuo at one point and I saw
that. Looks like I did not comment on it, but I was familiar with his style of
photography. So you can look in those comments to see what people generally
think about that style. Which we’re gonna go over in this video. This’ll be a lot
of my own opinion here. Keep that in mind. Basically, if you’re gonna comment
please be a polite about it. Please don’t attack other commenters. When you think
about street photography you might think of the candid side of things. So with
Tatsuo’s style… with that general style… It’s a mixture of candid plus an
aggressive way of going about it. Now, it’s not true candid photography.
Generally candid means you are away from it so that the subjects don’t know
they’re being photographed. So I’m not going to go over the legal aspects of
all of this, but we’re gonna go more on the moral side. And should you take
photos of people in an aggressive way? Anyways, that’s basically why all of this big issue seemed to happen with the X100V
announcement. Just from the short seven-minute video. You can see that he
is really getting in people’s faces. He’s trying to evoke some type of emotion
from them at points. Basically trying to get a certain style of photo that he’s
created over the years. And I understand the point, in a way. And I understand his
style but also it creates a lot of negative tension. It creates a lot of
issues with how people perceive photography. One of the big questions is
about Fujifilm and should they have taken down the video. Personally don’t
see any issue with Fujifilm deciding to remove that. It’s a business decision.
If you look at YouTube and you see all of the “adpocalypse” issues that have
happened throughout the years for YouTube. For advertisers that put their
money into the platform. Businesses don’t want to have a negative relation to their
product. To their business, and it just makes sense for them to take it
down. Obviously, Tatsuo makes some great work.
But are there ways for you to achieve a similar result without being negative
towards your subjects. I do think there is. Maybe not necessarily the facial
expressions and the looks that he gets. A lot of the good points about street
photography… One is historic record. Showing how society is at a certain
point of time. Showing what the look of people are. Their style. Their clothes.
What they’re doing. What they’re holding. What they’re eating. All those things
related to street photography I see some positive cultural benefit, now and into
the future with all of that. So I don’t think generally public photography of
other people is a negative or bad thing. Hopefully, in time, the public view of
street photography can improve. So maybe there are ways to improve on that. I’m
gonna go over a few ideas of my own that could make street photography a little
less aggressive and negative. Before I get to that list, I want to mention my
friend James and a video that I did with him about his street photography. He’s more
on the side of talking to them. Taking their photo, but we did sue some candid
photography in there. Did that at a city market. It was a fun time. I really
enjoyed it. I don’t do a ton of street photography and that was a nice little
way to see how he does things. How he goes about it. Back to my personal list
of ideas. First one is focused on the larger scene. Of course with some styles
of street photography like Tatsuo’s he’s trying to get really in there.
Really intimate, so there is that barrier of how do you achieve that feeling while
still not getting in someone’s face? I really don’t know, but you can try to get
less intimate and then crop in. One way is to try to make the subject anonymous
in the photo, while still getting some type of story. Some type of feeling to it.
So it can be close-up, but maybe not the face. Maybe from the back. What they’re
doing with their hands. How they’re walking. Really get that feeling, but also
not be extremely personal about that individual. One common way of street
photography is asking for permission. Going up to the person. It’s just an
option. It’s a potential way to get what you were seeing at the time,
but also not be a jerk about it… Find situations where candid street
photography is accepted and wanted. So we’re talking rallies. We’re talking
events, and basically you’re documenting the event. Maybe getting in there a
little bit. Just.. just to get the expressions on people’s faces. When
they’re focused on, say, a speaker and they won’t be focused on you taking
their photo. Kind of an offshoot of that but not in the candid realm is. I go to
conventions. I take photos of people in costumes. And I potentially pose them
and all of that. So it’s not candid. Actually candid photos are very much
frowned upon at conventions. But it’s an option to get that type of photography
in your repertoire. I think technology could eventually improve the public
opinion on street photography. Let’s say glasses are going to have cameras in
them. They’re going to have ways of taking photos where you focus your eyes
or you move your eyes… and… So it’s basically you’re recording your memories
of what you see with glasses or similar technology. For your style photography,
think about considering your subjects. What’s going to achieve what you’re
trying to do with your photography out in public? Are you trying to capture
history? Are you trying to capture some type of art some type of feeling? So with
that, in my personal opinion I think empathy is extremely important. That
means basically not making the person feel negative about their experience
with you. I do see street photography as a
valuable type of photography. I think it’s important. You just look at all the
historic photos of the important events. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t
really know what would be the best way to go about street photography. Although
I don’t think this aggressive style that really gets in people’s faces has much
benefit to it. Now of course the images might turn out nice. Might look
interesting. Might capture your attention, but I do think there are different ways
to go about it that can do the same thing. Get the same feelings, for the most
part, out of them. As photographers.. as people that enjoy photography. I think we
need to be stewards of this craft. Basically showing it in a positive light
with people around that aren’t interested in it. That they just want to live their
everyday lives… and not have people putting cameras in
their faces. So if we can find a nice balance of taking beautiful images.
Taking interesting thought-provoking images. While still really making the
subjects feel positive about that… Or making the general public feel
positive about these styles of photography. Think of ways to do that.
Think of ways to promote street photography in a positive light. If you
try to use the laws as a crutch and say well I’m legally allowed to take these
photos in public… this and that… this and that. It’s not going to help the
situation. That’s not going to help. And laws aren’t in stone. They can be changed… Anyways, I’m Scott of Photography Banzai. This is all just my opinion. Hope you enjoyed the video, thanks!

7 Replies to “Is aggressive street photography ethical?”

  1. The self is always in the photo – whether it's the desire to be anonymous, or the desire to be 'in-your-face'. Gilden is a boisterous personality and it shows. Not sure it's an ethical issue.

  2. For me etchical street photography should be spontaneous but doesnt capture the face or identity of the subject. Its finding the extraordinary things in ordinary things.

    Explained in 4:00

  3. I’m a street photographer in NYC.
    I’m aggressive when I need to be in order to get the shot.
    I mainly shoot at 35 and 50mm so I have to get in pretty close.
    If my subject(s) is/become angry I apologize and move on but I don’t delete the shot.
    Confrontation is inevitable in street photography and must be accepted as such.
    How you handle that confrontation shows your moral compass.
    Combine aggressive tactics with kindness and a smile.
    That works for me the overwhelming amount of the time.

  4. I like how suzuki's subjects are looking at the camera. When I watched the video before I realized what people were complaining about, I didn't understand what was so negative about him. He's just not being as charming sociable as someone like John Free who does the same exact thing. Hiding a camera behind distance or glasses isn't necessary, and can be just as negative if you make it that way.

  5. It's usually people with quite bland work that point the finger as this sort of thing as being aggressive and negative

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