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Monday, December 28, 2009

Recovering from a Rough Night, on Avenue A

Down and Out, on Avenue APhoto by myself on Avenue A, around 7th Street in Alphabet City.

A young fellow sat slumped over on a stoop, around noon on Sunday. He looked like he wasn't feeling well.

Fortunately the weather was mild and sunny. It was a welcome relief after days of relentless gray drizzle.


A split second after taking this photograph, the guy walking into frame addressed me. He couldn't believe that I took a photo of the fellow on the stoop without asking first. I didn't want to get into anything, so I just smiled and walked away.

I wanted to say that the street is a public place. If you're on the street, there is nothing illegal about taking someone's photograph.

I can't tell you how many times I've had people ask me to delete a photo. Every time, it's been a person selling something, and they're worried that I'm going to report them for selling without a license or that I'm stealing their ideas. It has never, ever been a person who didn't want their picture taken. Surprising, but true.

I photograph people because I find them striking or beautiful, a small part of a larger image.

There's nothing to be embarrassed about. No one is ever too tall or too short or too heavy. They are simply who they are, perfect in who they are. Even when someone might feel at his absolute worst, he can be a part of an image that moves others.

All this I wanted to say to the guy. Maybe next time.

Related posts: On the Sidewalk, Chinatown, Surprise, Suprise and Life in the Balance.


Olivier said...

Le droit à l'image est très compliqué, mais tu n'as pas le droit de prendre quelqu'un en photo sans son accord et surtout tu n'as pas le droit de la publier (internet ou autre), je le sais car j'ai souvent eut des problèmes à Évry pour cette raison. Bon, comme quoi je le fais quand même ;o)

Olivier said...

"If you're on the street, there is nothing illegal about taking someone's photograph." Faux

Kitty said...

huh, interesting Olivier! I thought if you did not profit from the use it was all right.

I will have to research this. Thank you!

Slimeface said...

It's a fine street candid and a photographer's call whether to shoot or not in public places, imo. I recently wrote my thoughts on this matter. Keep on shootin'! Slimeface

Washington said...

In Brazil, the right of the image is contemplated expressly in the Civil Code:"Unless otherwise authorized, or if necessary for the administration of justice or public order, the use of the image of a person may be prohibited, at his request and subject to compensation where applicable, if you achieve the honor, good reputation or respectability, or if for commercial purposes."

But I believe that most photographers prefer to risk than losing a good picture.

valeria said...

I guess it's indeed a complicated matter and we should know more about this.
I like this photo, it's essential and it communicates the loneliness of the people. At least the face of the guy is not visible.
Honestly I would hate it if I'd feel bad on the street and someone would photograph me...
xxx from Verona

jr222 said...

This is interesting. One of my friends, Lindsey, solely photographs individuals in NY & comes across this a lot. She's white and tends to shoot in Harlem & some people feel immediate frustration. The overall attitude is "How dare you use our suffering for your benefit - so people can be impressed? What are we getting out of this?" But if you see her work, one would understand. Whether legal or not, the gentlemen didn't know your intentions and didn't know what an amazing artist you are. If I see him - I will break down to him:-)

Kitty said...

Thank you everyone for your insightful comments about taking candids. I know people have very different comfort levels and points of view on this topic, especially since we live in an internet world.

Slimeface, thanks for mentioning your post about taking photos of people. I do think about this whole thing quite a bit.

Washington, interesting quote, especially if there's money involved! I agree with you that some photographers can be quite ruthless. I'm not quite there yet, lol.

Hi Valeria!
I know what you mean. I can be very idealistic about such things and on the other hand I am camera shy. So that's a huge contradiction.

I would never terribly humiliate someone, but of course, it's subjective, whether one image is humiliating or not.

Hi Jose
I'd love to see your friend's work. I'd also love to take photos in Harlem, perhaps when it's warmer.

Photographers who take photos of those less fortunate and in Third World countries face the same dilemma. It's not a straightforward issue, and I don't think it should be.

Louis la Vache said...

This image could have very easily been taken in The Tenderloin in San Francisco. You were wise to walk away from a potential confrontation. This looks like a dangerous place to be.

Debra said...

I always enjoy your photos, especially those of people. Surley there is nothing illegal about it, if so The Enquirer may have some explaining to do.


Olivier said...

le droit a l'image a été annulé dans un procès en France, car la photographie avait été considéré comme une œuvre d'art, mais c'est très subjectif comme raison.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Much as I love your photos Kitty I would absolutely hate it if someone took my photo without asking. It's not a question of being embarrassed or self conscious, rather that it would feel like an invasion of my privacy.

Kitty said...

Hi Olivier
Interesting that such rights are subjective. I really thought these things were straightforward for some reason.

Hi Fish
I can understand and personally feel similar to you. I admit to having a schism in my personality.