The Top Surface Of The Underside Of The Privacy Question

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Let me state at the outset that I am a photographer. No apologies – I pass light through lenses onto sensitive surfaces and then fix the image that has formed. I do this in my home, my studio, and out in the open air. I have long been an advocate of the rights of the photographer to capture what they can see. But now I am starting to wonder whether the rights can sometimes be wrongs.

My photographer friends will scoff at me, my former employers will be enraged, and my family will ignore it entirely.

Suppose I take a picture of you in the studio. If I take it for you, it is for you – paid or otherwise – the use and view is up to you. I should ask your permission to show it off and I must ask your permission to sell it off.

How about in the street? The laws in Australia allow me to take your picture  ( provided you are not standing in front of the firing solution computer screen for the local coast defence artillery and signalling the codes…) in any public place that I can legally be. If I can see it, I can picture it. Later on down the track I’ll need to be careful about the display of the image – commercial use will need your written permission and defamatory display may well attract a penalty.

But what of the moral question? Aside from the commerce, should I really be worried about peering at you and snapping? I am starting to think I should. It is based upon whether I think it polite that you peer at me and snap. Now that you can do so with a mobile phone, the question may actually arise. If I think it a nuisance that you stand there and wave your iPhone at me, should I be waving my Fujifilm at you?

” Fair reportage” is fine, if there is something to report and someone to report it to. ” None of your blasted business ” is also valid if there is not. I shall have to accept the latter opinion in more cases in the future.

Heading image: This man has progressed well beyond just being a snappy dresser. He actually clanks.

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