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Respecting our Photographic Subjects

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Retief, Jul 2, 2007.

  1. Lou Bushcer, hope he doesn't mind my using his post as a reference, put up a post regarding the change in status for the Bald Eagle. As well we have seen the report from New York, and have heard other suggestions, of permits for commercial shoots in cities and parks. As well, we see and here commentary on issues surrounding "the Paparazzi". These all sort of gelled for me this weekend, while I was shooting Owls and Crop Dusters, which may seem a bit of a stretch, but the commonality is having respect for our subjects, and I sure find that far more "photographers" I see, don't seem to have any, respect that is.

    When I photograph birds/animals, even in the zoo, I want to be sure they are not stressed by what I do. It never ceases to amaze me when I see someone do something, throw a rock and such, to spook something to react. Yeah, I am not above muttering under my breath "C'mon, dangit, FLY already!!!", but that is about the extent of it. Same with shooting people. I had the opportunity this weekend to shoot some Crop Dusters, and they saw me, did a couple of passes and I caught their faces in the cockpit. I drove over to the company, let them know, and boy were they thrilled. Just common courtesy to let them know. I'm shooting buildings, I pay attention to the people around me, as well as anything that may go on around the building. Just because I am on Public ground and have a "right", does not make it "right" for me to be a pest either.

    I guess my point with this "semi-rant" is that I think we, as the person behind the camera, should have some responsibilty and respect for what we shoot as well as those who may be around us. Also, perhaps if we set a reasonably good example, just maybe someone else will follow.

    Oh, yeah, I also have zero sympathy for those who intrude on their subjects, be it a Grizzly Bear or an Annoyed Celebrity, if they suffer any physical or mental damage. In my opinion this is the ultimate price paid for having no respect for your subject.
  2. I agree, I would not keep an unflattering picture of someone I captured in the street.

    I will not ask for permission nor will I run back to someone saying - "Hey I took your picture..." I can see when someone do not want their picture taken, be it in their facial expression or hand gesture.

    Okay, in Montreal the rules of the game are different but in the rest of Canada, if you find yourself in a public space and most of the rest of North America, if you find yourself in a public space you can't expect privacy.

    In regards to Paparazzi, well I don't like them. I couldn't even see myself as a News Photographer after seeing Conrad Black's exit from court this week with all the photographers pushing and shoving each other to get the money shot.

    I take my pictures and move on. If it isn't flattering I delete it.
  3. As a dog trainer, I have come to realize that a vast majority of people have NO CLUE about animal behavior, NOR do they wish to learn about it. Certain human mannerisms can be seen as very rude, if not out right threatening, by animals. To not try to understand this, (i.e. to learn what may bother a particular type of animal) when one is going to be working with or around them, is in my opinion, very careless.
  4. Hyper-Performance


    Apr 11, 2007
    SW Ohio, USA
    There is something to be said for a photographer that can capture the moment (or subject) as it truely is, not make it into what they want it to be.
  5. husawis

    husawis Guest

    Bill, that was a very thoughtful post. If I may I'd like to expand a little on it. First, you are entirely correct in your concern for the subject whether it be an animal brother or a fellow human being. I disdain the use of flash for nature photos particularly with animals which seen very "spooked" by it. I have in the past asked for some opinions here in the cafe I do not think we leave zero footprint when we terrorize a bird or small animal. I have been taught to ask permission and you know when you get it. But, that being said I have used flash when I have assured myself I am doing no harm. Second, I also have no sympathy for those who get hurt or killed when infiltrating another animal's life space. My opinion, and only mine we have enough grizzly shots and enough experience with them to know that even measured approaches into their world can have unforgiving consequences.

    To those who say they will never ask permission. There are people in this world who do not want their photo taken, Old Order Amish, and some American Indians. Unfortunately, most photographers are not aware of this. Thus' the only way to find out is to ask. Honestly, I find it to be absolutely unacceptable to be dancing at a traditional powwow, as opposed to one for competition, and have flash bulbs flashing in my face as I honour the eagle. Prior to dancing if someone asks, I usually say yes. That is my spirit you capture and some think that is wrong. I respect them for that.

    There are also those things that make fun of our animal brothers that, in my opinion have no business being photographed without a great deal of sensitivity. For years, National Geographics had no problem showing topless aboriginals in their publications. I sometimes think that is why I got to the dentist's office early. But, never a Northern European. Why? NG considered the aboriginal an animal and so it did not matter. I have seen enough of how animals eat, capture their prey and mate. Yes, I find it all interesting but unless a new photo really adds to our understanding I think, again in my opinion, it should not be published. Otherwise, it is senstionalism and disrespectful.

    Sorry, for the pseudo-rant here but I think it needed being said.
  6. Thanks for responding, but I am not quite sure I understand a couple of your comments. You mention agreeing with me regarding keeping "unflattering" pictures, I'm not sure I implied that at all.

    I appreciate your attention to noticing if folks on the street don't want their picture taken, in my opinion that shows exactly the kind of responsibility I am talking about, bravo to you. I sure wish more had this attitude, and as Husawis points out, in some cultures this can be an issue.

    I think that "real" Photo Journalists are different than what is commonly though of as "Paparazzi". If you work for a news organization, you have an obligation to "get the shot" of the subject. "Paprazzi" work for themselves (I think), with the goal of the most obnoxious/outrageous getting the most money.

    Again, thanks for the reply, much appreciated.

  7. Thanks, Gretchen, and this is so true. What amazes me even more is that photographically we seem to treat other Humans even worse at times, and then get mad if they punch us in the nose :smile:


  8. Dave, thanks for the reply, but I have to admit to utter confusion. I have no clue how this relates to my post, might just be "terminal denseness" on my part :redface::redface:, but could you elaborate for this dumb old bunny please?
  9. Thank you very much for your reply as well as your "expansion". You said some of these things much better than I ever could, but I think we are in what I would call "Vehement Agreement" :biggrin:
  10. Hyper-Performance


    Apr 11, 2007
    SW Ohio, USA
    I am merely trying to point out that, in my opinion, a photographer's responsibility is to shoot what they see as what it is. The use of "aids" to get wildlife to respond, flash during private times, or basically anything that upsets the moment to create or gain a photo of something that is beyond what is actually transpiring. Leave no footprints, tread lightly upon other's lifes. Only do what you would encourage others to do to/for you.

    Post-processing is a whole separate topic. Golden Rule should apply as well.
  11. What is needed most of the time is a little common sense- on both sides of the coin. I do a lot of PJ work. Only rarely have I ever encountered a problem- why? Because I use a little common sense, some common courtesy, and because I am polite and respectful. Works 99% of the time. However, I am paid to deliver shots- and they will be delivered one way or the other- however I have to get them. I completely disagree about shooting scenes exactly as you find them. PJ's have been manipulating photos for years- not changing the truth of the shot- but by enhancing the moment and the reality as well. I've yelled at someone to get them to look my way- I've whistled, made loud noises, whatever to get the shot I am supposed to get. I've been in the middle of "gang bangs" where everyone is pushing and shoving and trying to get shots. Sometimes, it is not a pretty sight- but it is what it is and you do what you can to get the shot. Most of the time I blend right in with everyone else- but at times you do what you must to get the shot.

    The paparazzi guys don't bother me. They are just trying to make a buck. I've met a few of them over the years. I was at a movie premier a couple of years ago and got to talking to a couple of them. I like their tenacity and ingenuity. And they get a bad rap sometimes. The first people you would hear howling if the paparazzi guys were to stay home would be the celebrities.

    Now , having said all that, if a person sincerely asks me not to shoot his photo, for whatever reason, the camera comes down immediately.
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