Rules and myths of candid photography: To ask permission or to invade privacy   6 comments

First and foremost, this blog is about candid photography.  If you ask the subject for permission, no matter how you do it, the person has time to get ready for the picture. The photographer can get an interesting and excellent artistic result, but this cannot be considered candid.

If you’re worried about privacy invasion, law-breaking, possible confrontation, or other problems, don’t do candid photography. There is no other solution. It is the same as driving a car or traveling. You can get a ticket, be mugged or just get into a bad accident. Photographers have to use common sense and accept the risks.

After you’ve made your shot, please, feel free to talk, ask permission, and give business cards or anything else to resolve a possible conflict.

Sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised from your “victim’s” positive reaction.

These pictures illustrate another point. Even a person, obviously seeing a lens directed at him, creates genuine expression of confusion. This interesting case deserves a separate topic.

Related topics

Every Face Has a Story

What is “the candid photography of strangers”?

6 responses to “Rules and myths of candid photography: To ask permission or to invade privacy

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  1. I would say that cell phones, blogs and youtube killed street photography as we knew it…

    15 years ago if you took a picture and the subject noticed, he would think that’s odd, but was a one time thing.

    nowadays, the same subject can be photographed over and over, by a thousand teens, a zillion tourits, etc, etc.

    my friend, definitely it has lost some of the magic…

    appart from war zones… 🙂


    • I understand you and there is truth in what you are saying. But look to the bright side.
      There is nothing new about popularization of photography. Development of 35mm format made photography the most popular hobby. At the same time, 35mm made possible candid street photography that is object of this blog.
      Digital technology gave camera to everybody. There is flood of pictures on Internet. Many photographers rightly upset about quality of almost all of them. But in my opinion not only we have more of excellent work; the best of the images dramatically raised the bar of this art. I think that magic is still there even though it is harder to find it :(.
      I think that once people will develop their judgment for really good images, flood will subside. It is too early to tell though.
      Please, continue your shooting and comment on this blog!

  2. Well – teens can take hundreds of pictures of same subject BUT Photography is all about POV. A good eye captures the best image that stands a part among thousands. No matter what – photography is not texting or uploading clips.

    Liked ur work – keep it up.
    I too love street photography but most of the times get confuse regarding the ‘privacy invasion’ – anyway but still thats fun part.

  3. It is well explained and I like the strong contrasting view, also a bit more complicated.

    Do we really “invade privacy” whenever we take a candid?

    Some of my best portraits or people interaction photos where taken candid, sometime as you say, I did as “after” but not before the first shot. The rest can be sometimes, better, sometimes forced, and I would not interrupt, usually an interaction between two, either.

    Thanks for the visit to Afterclass, and reading through the thread, begun years ago, did you not find also a need to publish some photos of your own, tell your opinion, there, instead of telling us to come here?

    • Julie,
      Do we really “invade privacy” whenever we take a candid?
      Yes. That is the nature of the candid. We take a picture of the moment that was not intended for sharing. Degree of invasion is different and different people have different sensitivity and reaction to it.
      I post images on your group. The last two of them I did in Morocco. All pictures are candid. To refer to my blog post is just much more convenient then to rewrite somewhere else.
      The next topic will be about my candid photography in Morocco. This is direct continuation of this interesting discussion.
      Thank you for your comment.

  4. Finding your site interesting as I’ve been doing a lot more street photography lately.

    Even if we don’t ask permission, the mere presence of a camera often changes expressions and postures. Some turn away. Some try to pose. The observer changes what is being observed. I don’t see any way around this, other than the shots we take with telephotos at a distance or shots from behind or nearly behind. If the subject is concentrating on their work or something, they may barely notice the camera — see it but it doesn’t register.


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