Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2005/04/20

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Subject: [Leica] Photojournalists and permission
From: bdcolen at (B. D. Colen)
Date: Wed Apr 20 07:28:48 2005

Sorry, Karen. In the United States I have the right to take any
photograph I want, of anyone, in or from a public place, as long as I
don't violate any of our new security laws in doing so. And anyone has
the right to photograph me. Period. All you're doing by dragging in
examples of photographing in hospitals and offices is muddying the
waters and dodging the question of whether or not this is still a free
society. Hopefully, it is. 

And by the way, I have done quite a bit of photography in hospitals and
have never had to get the permission of specific staff members to do so
- because the hospitals have had standing policies that staff members
may be photographed any time for the benefit of the hospital.;-)
Patients, however, are another matter entirely, and given the passage of
HIPPA, photographing, or interviewing patients in any health care
facility is difficult to virtually impossible. But again, that doesn't
have a damn thing to do with photographing people in public.

But, as you say, everyone has their standards, and yours, as a
photoethnographer, are obviously quite a bit higher than many of ours as
mere photographers. :-)

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Karen Nakamura
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 8:26 PM
To: Leica Users Group
Subject: Re: [Leica] Photojournalists and permission

This will be my final post, since there's no progress in this

I think we would all agree that we should ask doctors, nurses, and 
patients in a hospital (public or privately funded) whether we can 
take their photograph if we're doing a project on them. We can't just 
go around public waiting rooms and take people's photographs or go to 
the maternity ward and take all the photographs we want to of all of 
the cute babies without asking the parents' permission. If you barged 
in and claimed that you had a RIGHT to take photographs because you 
were a photojournalist, you'd get immediately thrown out.

We'd also agree that we'd feel uncomfortable if our company hired a 
photographer to come by all of our offices and take our photographs 
without our permission and without telling us how the company is 
going to use the photos. Especially if the photographer insisted that 
we should not pose and wanted to follow us around all day long to get 
us in our natural condition. I think we would agree that  we have a 
certain right to privacy even in the workplace.

If we have that right (many lawyers would call it a moral right to 
our own image), then what gives us the authority to claim that 
homeless -- because of their circumstance -- have given up all moral 
rights to the use of their own image and privacy?  Because they are 
poor? Because they are living on the street?

To me, this is class exploitation and a double-standard applied to 
one class of people (rich people) and another (poor people). If you 
are happy with that, fine.  This is my own feeling and why I try as 
hard as possible to make sure that I have the consent of the people I 
photograph, especially those in dire economic straits. Like HCB, I 
don't like to be photographed myself, I do want to control how my 
image is used, and I think other people should have that right too.

Come up with your own standards and be happy with them. There are 
variations depending on your profession. Fine art photography is one 
thing, documentary is another, photojournalism is another. But each 
profession does have its own best practices doctrine which you should 
understand.  If you don't belong to a professional association that 
has an ethics standard, come up with your own and be happy with it. 
Just don't complain  if you are asked to defend it.

Happy snaps as they say!


Karen Nakamura

Leica Users Group.
See for more information

Replies: Reply from datamaster at (Gary Todoroff) ([Leica] Photojournalists and permission)
In reply to: Message from mail at (Karen Nakamura) ([Leica] Photojournalists and permission)