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Sunday, 3 April 2011

chapter i

Street Photography

"Everything is changing. How we take photographs, manipulate them, share them, store them - even how we pose for them. Our tools are mutating quickly, promising ever faster, clearer, bright and cheaper pictures". Taken from [Street Photography Now], Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLean

In the present time, Photography plays a major part in life. In the 1st world country, we are almost all the time confronted with images either trying to get us to buy a product or to spend money in some sort of way. 
In this blog I will be looking at how street photography fits into society, how it is recognized by the public and the responses that are got from both the street photographer taking the image and also the final shot. 
Throughout this chapter I will be looking into several different aspects of street photography. I will be covering these areas: 

  • The law and how street photography becomes more of a terrorist threat
  • The Bust Card
  • Google street view
  • Street portraits… Do we really need a model release form?

The Law

"These are not easy times for street photographers, for whom acting suspiciously is an occupational hazard and loitering with intent a modus operandi. Tightening privacy laws and fears about terrorism have created an environment in which to stare, pry, listen or eavesdrop is increasingly to invite suspicion." - Taken from [Street Photography Now], Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLean

A poster campaign run by the London Metropolitian Police in 2008 summed up the idea " Thousands of people take photographs every day. What if one of them seems odd?" It asked, Encouraging the public to report anyone with a camera who seemed to display unusaul levels of curiosity. It has become much more common for street photographers to be reprimanded informally, to have their film or memory card confiscated, or even be stopped and searched. Some have responded to this by setting up or supporting campaigning websites such as "I'm A Photographer Not A Terrorist" and "Photography Is Not A Crime"."

Photography and Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000

"Officers have the power to stop and search a person who they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist. The purpose of the stop and search is to discover whether that person has in their possession anything which may constitute evidence that they are a terrorist.
Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to discover whether the images constitute evidence that the person is involved in terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is a terrorist. This includes any mobile telephone or camera containing such evidence.
Officers do not have the power to delete digital images or destroy film at any point during a search. Deletion or destruction may only take place following seizure if there is a lawful power (such as a court order) that permits such deletion or destruction." - Retrieved 4 May, 2011, from

This piece of law states that only if a police officer suspects the photographer to be a terrorist can they stop and search. However, Although this piece of law is very simple, photographers are often finding themselves being stopped and searched at an alarming rate. When this happens, Many photographers are not clear on their legal rights and they are often told that they are not allowed to photograph in certain areas. 

However, On 1st March 2011, The home secretary Theresa May announced that "given the current threat enviroment" she had concluded that the police do need the powers more quickly and that the most appropriate way of meeting the legal and operational powers exercisable without the counter-terrorism stop and search powers exercisable without reasonable suspicion is to make a remedial order in the interests of nation security. 
This order replaces sections 44 to 47 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

What is the difference from section 44 and section 47A?
Section 47A will give a “senior police officer” the power to make an authorisation in “relation to a specified area or place” if the officer“reasonably suspects that an act of terrorism will take place”and “considers that the authorisation is necessary to prevent such an act.”
Under Section 44 the police had to go to the Home Office for authorisation now the police will have a Code of Practice to follow.
Under Section 47A a “constable in uniform” will have the power “to stop a pedestrian” in the specified area and to search them and “anything carried by them”.  

The Bust Card.

As a result of the large amount of photographers getting stopped and searched by the police, Several campaigns have been set up to make photographers more aware of their rights when stopped by the police. The card above is called "The Bust Card", it has been made pocket size so that it is easy to carry round in your wallet or purse whilst photographing. 
It concentrates mainly on your rights as a photographer under Section44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. It lists all of the rights that you have and also states what you do not have to do, and also what is compulsory. It also covers other laws under which photography may be restricted in the UK.

Google Street View

Perhaps the most prolific street photographer today is the Google Street View system, In which a remote ocular camera fixed to a car records a continual stream of still images as it tranverses the world's cities.
  Even at a time when CCTV already records vast amounts of our everyday life, street photographers still wait patiently on dismal street corners while gales of diesel fumes clog their lungs and sting their eyes. - Taken from [Street Photography Now], Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLean

   "My camera has led me on a personal journey through the un-expected nuances of life, photography   has become my tool to investigate, discover, confront and ultimately portray the complex, fascinating world around us" - Quote by Amani Willet. 

At the present time, it is now evident that photography has become such a wide and major part of everyday life and it is almost now impossible for one to go about their business without either being photographed or filmed for CCTV or other other means of documenting. This now brings the thought that most of the time we are un-aware whilst this is happening and brings new concerns about ones privacy. 
This in turn brings out a different reaction to the members of the public compared to a photographer standing on the street and photographing. Being un-aware with CCTV and google street view, there will be a natural expression on the persons face and statue, they are relaxed and unaware of being photographed or filmed. However, When someone see's a photographer standing on the street corner photographing them, a mix of different and far more controlled expressions occur, depending on the person, it may be angry or it may be happy that they are being photographed. 

So as we know, Google Street View has become so wide now and thousands of photographs from it are uploaded onto the internet, many of them containing people going about their everyday buissness.
It now brings up the question that Willet brought up in his quote - 
If we know that so many street photographs are being produced and uploaded on the internet by both CCTV and Google Street View, Why does the Street Photographer feel the need to go out onto the Street and capture everyday life and is there a difference from their photographs and electronically produced ones? 
I think that this is a really interesting question and from my point of view, being a street photographer I think that the main part of the reason we go out and document the street is because we are interested in what is going on around us and to learn more about people in the street. Everything is changing and one shot is never the same as the last shot. 

"Street photography is a renewable resource. If you dont like what you see wait 5 minutes or walk a hundred feet." - Craig Coverdale

Street Portraits, Do we really need a model release form? 

In the current year, It is very clear that privacy and permission for a photograph is thought to be a norm. That if a photographer is to photograph them, they should have to ask before hand. 
However, a major part of street photography is the chance to capture the moment, capture the subject going about their everyday business with a natural expression, un-aware that they are being photographed. However, There is the problem and argument that most street photographers face, the fact that if they make the subject aware that they are being photographed, then the expression and body language will change, knowing that they are being photographed. This then creates a photograph that makes it look like it is staged and set up, which is almost the complete oppersite to what is wanted. 
Because of this fact, in most cases, the photographer will not let the subject know they are being photographed, We are in a time now where street photographers will always face threats or violence from those who expressively do not want their pictures taken, but most accept this as a risk to their profession as the results of good photographs can be very rewarding and can be worth a large amount of money.

This then brings the topic onto what rights the street photographer really has when it comes to photographing people in the street.

The Photographers rights
Everywhere that you look, it is very clear that the street photographer has the right to photograph in a public place. The photographer does not need the permission of the subject to be able to take their photograph, however if the subject feels threatend or harassed and the photographer does not stop taking photographs when asked,  then the police may be called and it will then be up to the police to decide what action to take. 
In terms of model release forms, The photographer will only need one when he/she will be selling the photograph where the subject(s) are recognizable, however it is really up to the photographer wether they get one filled out. if it is of a public event such as a carnaval then one is not needed. However, some magazines and image stock companies will request a model release form upon submission of the image. 
It is always best for the photographer to get a model release form because it is a binding contract stating that the photographer has their permission to do what ever they like with the image and the subject cannot sue them. 
Model release forms can be anywhere as short as one paragraph to a whole page, depending on how exact and careful the photographer wants to be. It should contain their signature, the photographers signature, date, brief description of the image and also the legal contract. 
There are many different types of model release forms for different uses. Eg: children, adults, private buildings.
Here is an example of a short adult model release form.

If the photographer does want to get a model release form signed when out on the street, then it is best to get a simple one like the one above printed out. Therefore it becomes less confusing to the subject and it is easy to read. However if it is a long release form then the subject may get confused by it and not want to sign it. 

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