Photographing Those Who Don’t Want To Be Photographed

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When is it appropriate to photograph those who don’t want to be photographed?

Photographing Those Who Don’t Want To Be Photographed

A few months ago, I took an overnight bus from Pokhara, Nepal, to Kathmandu. Arriving at five in the morning was not a part of the plan; nor was losing a night’s worth of sleep to dangerous curves, heavy rainfall, imminent landslides, and music that blared until shortly before arrival in the city. W…

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24 thoughts on Photographing Those Who Don’t Want To Be Photographed

  1. I’ve battled with this a lot and I’ve found solace in placing people’s humanity above my artistic needs. And if it’s your job then find ways to communicate with them or read the situation and find a tactful way to tell the story. “Anything for the shot” is a short leap away from “screw you this is for/about me”

  2. Those who think the issue is black and white have clearly never worked as a news photographer. Photographing those who do not want their image captured is part of a photojournalist’s daily life, but doing the job does not supersede human decency.

  3. If you get a strong indication that the subject doesn’t want to be photographed then the answer is – never! All photographers will have come across subjects who lightheartedly make excuses for not wanting their photograph taken but with a little persuasion they are happy to pose. It is usually quite obvious that a little persuasion will get them over the line. In the case of shots obtained without the subject’s knowledge (e.g. street, public crowds) then the final decision (as Ironside alludes to) rests with the photographer and whether he/she feels the shot is worthy (for whatever reason) to be published.

  4. As former journalist I took photos of people who didn’t want to be on a photo when: politicians in public places, criminals in court, suspicious activities and intervention. Never the poor or in need, or any regular character without asking or letting them know I was there. Unless doing street photo but once detected even nowadays I apologize and ask if I can take it.
    Many times I had deleted photos of people who didn’t want to be portrait

  5. There’s hypocrisy here! What’s the difference between the photographer and you illustrating your point using the photographs you are bashing? I presume you would have hired an illustrator to draw images if you needed visual support of the story!

  6. When it comes to photojournalism, it’s the photographer’s job to document the scene whether people want their photo taken or not. When it comes to street photography though, it’s a matter of personal preference. Personally, I think once a subject expresses that they don’t want their photo taken, the authenticity and beauty of the moment is gone and any photos after that point will only capture and convey negative energy.

    In public though, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking people’s photos discreetly (depending on what country you’re in of course.) Street photography is best when subjects are oblivious to the photographer. As many of you have probably experienced, it only takes one person looking at the camera in a public shot to ruin the entire photo.

  7. A few weeks ago I lost my home to hurricane Irma, and it wasn’t long before people were walking up and down the streets to get a good look at the damage. People were stopping to take photographs of all my stuff laying on the curb, it was one of the hardest days of my life, so many memories were ruined & taking them to be trashed was hard enough. Having people photograph that was highly insensitive to me. Let me also add that I am a photographer, it’s how I earn my living…being on the flip side of that situation made me realize how improper it is.

    I love documentary photography myself, but I learned through this that people need time to grieve, time to hurt or whatever the case may be.

    Because in the end kindness should triumph getting the shot.

  8. I want to ask, The paedophile leaving court, having been found guilt of touching up children in a park, he doesn’t want his photo taken, but it is in the public interest that we know what this guy looks like, so the picture is taken and published despite the subject matter being disgusting and something we wish didn’t happen in society……. To all the people here saying Oh no i wont take someones picture if they don’t want it taken, would you rather this person and their story just get brushed under the carpet and hidden from view or would you like to know what evil looks like???

  9. This is the type of content I actually want to see from this page. Not click baity sensationalism with no substance.

    This had an interesting subject, references, and a well thought out thesis that was well written to boot. Pay more writers like this

  10. It’s never appropriate..you can find other ways to tell a story…..put the shoe on the other foot and ask yourself….how would you feel if somebody was jamming a lens in your face when you didn’t want it?

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