Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/09/14

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Subject: RE: [Leica] quiet cameras in cathedrals?
From: Jem Kime <>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 17:17:22 +0100


I'm glad to hear you'll be sensitive and sorry to hear you won't be 
arranging permission before going.
My point was that humanitarian photography would seem to neccesitate some 
sort of courtesy extended before taking pictures, like arranging that it is 
acceptable, especially when photographing people's essentially private 

I agree with Greg's, and your, comments about understanding and 
communication, humanistic photography and all. I'm certainly no protagonist 
of flowers, trees and sunsets. I'm all for understanding and wanting to 
learn more about others but I seem to have a different set of values as to 
what is the best way to go about securing those pictures.

The difficulty of taking your stance that 'people can shake their heads if 
they don't want to be photographed' is that you offer no-one the chance to 
think about what you're doing, they may welcome the exposure you could 
offer them if they were made aware of what your motives were. Then again 
there could well be others who have eyes closed, backs turned, or their 
attention elsewhere who would object but have inadvertantly forfeited their 
supposed right to veto your shot. It seems a rather lopsided way of 
approaching subjects to me.


- -----Original Message-----
From:	Bob Walkden []


no, I have no intention of asking permission in advance. I will exercise 
common sense, courtesy and sensitivity to the situation and I won't take
hidden, surreptitious or furtive photographs. I've photographed all sorts 
rituals and ceremonies in different parts of the world, and never had
problems with it. On occasions when people have not wanted me to take
pictures it has, so far, always been sufficient for them to shake their
head. Mostly though people are very welcoming and happy about it.

As somebody else has commented, humanistic photography is about
understanding and communication. Empty spaces don't usually do it for me.
It's about people living their lives.



>From: Jem Kime <>
>Yes of course I've enjoyed pictures like those you say, but the difference
>is that most of these scenarios would have been agreed beforehand. 
>surreptitious photography is unlikely to win any favours with the
>organisers of these events. Certainly events like the funerals of Diana 
>Kennedy are state occassions where one expects coverage, it must be hard
>for the close relatives involved to consider them as personal acts of
>One could argue that ceremonies in public spaces are 'fair game' but I
>doubt that many participants would see it that way.
>And for your druid ceremony, are you planning to ask permission in 
>I've spent the last 8 years working in religious environments (including
>pagan) and never once considered taking pictures of people without asking.
>Of an empty church or deserted sacred site, sure, but where is common
>decency, sensitivity and politeness?
>-----Original Message-----
>From:	Bob Walkden []
>Sent:	14 September 2000 13:32
>Subject:	RE: [Leica] quiet cameras in cathedrals?
>have you never enjoyed essays about the rituals and customs of other
>cultures in magazines such as National Geographic? How about books like
>Beckwith and Fisher's 'African Ceremonies'? Or TV coverage such as
>or Princess Diana's funeral?
>I'm planning to photograph a Druid ceremony at next week's equinox. Is 
>wrong too? How about Cartier-Bresson's famous picture of the Muslim women
>Srinagar? Or the innumerable pictures by the banks of the Ganges in
>Varanasi? Or Henning Christoph's 'Voudou'?
> >From: Jem Kime <>
> >
> >Mitch,
> >I have to say that for anyone to have the insensitivity to want to
> >photograph others in the act of worship beggars belief!
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Replies: Reply from Mark Rabiner <> (Re: [Leica] quiet cameras in cathedrals?)