You may notice in majority of my Instagram photos and ones which feature on here, there are next-to-zero people, they are rather lifeless photos. Of course I have photos that do feature people in them, but while taking these photos I did have a sense of unease. There are laws regarding photography, and reading these I’m quite certain I’m not breaking any of them, however whilst I’m not breaking the law it doesn’t help with my anxiety.
Truth be told, I would rather have my photos populated with life than appear dead, having human interaction just increases the quality of the photograph. Go on just about any architect’s website, check out their projects and a lot of the time their final photo-shoot will feature residents, workers, public, etc in there. This tells us how people use the space, and isn’t just some
Should I be nervous if I wanted to take a photo of a building from the footpath (or road/traffic island) and there are people present? According to the law, no I shouldn’t, it’s perfectly legal to take a photo which include people if I am on public land, and it’s not for commercial use (this blog or my Instagram isn’t exactly a commercial business). I could even take a photograph of someone’s house and as long as I’m not on their property, they can’t prevent me from taking the photograph (unless I was capturing a private act or their bathroom).
Why then do I get anxious, nervous, worried and concerned taking a photograph which may feature someone? I will be honest, I am not a fan of confrontation. I am concerned someone would not appreciate having their photo taken (and then broadcast) and will approach me. I haven’t had this happen to me but it still remains a possibility and it’s that possibility that worries me when I go to take a photo and it’s obvious someone is in the photo.
If I notice someone taking a photo of a building or statue or whatever it may be, I sometimes remove myself from the photo. Not because I don’t want my photo taken by a complete stranger, I more so think ‘Oh I don’t want to be in their photo as they probably only want the building in their photo‘.
The above photo is a classic example of my unease taking photos with people in them. I was asked to write an article about the adaptive reuse of Little Creatures Brewery in Geelong for Architect Victoria [can read it here] , and asked to take some photos to possibly use in the article. I wanted some photos of the outside but there were people sitting down at a bench which yielded the best photo (composition, light, material, colour, etc). I ended up settling and taking a less-desired photograph but it had no one in it to avoid any possible confrontation.
And this photo is another example of possible confrontation but also something much worse, the possibly of being referred to as a ‘pervert’. Undertaking a site visit for a project at work which backs on to a primary school, and the school must share the public oval. A group of children and their teacher came outside to use the oval and all of a sudden I became unease and avoided having them in the shot, or even appear like the camera is remotely facing them. Granted there was 100-150m between me and the children, so they probably wouldn’t be able to make out what I was doing but I felt uncomfortable with taking photos when children are visibly around as this could give the wrong impression.
How do you go with taking photos out in the street? Are you like me and concerned with having people in the photo, not because you only want the building in the photo but more-so having said people confront you? Tell me in the comments.