When you ask permission, is that significantly different from posing subjects?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by the_traveler, May 14, 2017.

  1. Many people believe that street photographers should get permission of the subject before taking a photo.
    When one considers the recent fuss about Souvid Datta editing and appropriating images and the Steve McCurry mess from last year (LensCulture and the Commodification of Rape Photographer Souvid Datta Appears to Have Plagiarized Mary Ellen Mark), it is clear that the bright line between actual candid photojournalism and posed images is being slowly erased, or perhaps it is gone already and we don't realize it.
    I have always believes that posed images (at least mine) lack an immediacy and vitality that candid images have and I rarely ask permission before shooting street pictures. Only two come to mind that I think were successful. (below)
    There is a significant proportion of people who believe that asking permission is important so as not to violate the privacy of the subject.
    How do we then make the clear, necessary distinction between posed and candid images?


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  2. Stunning photo's. The first one reminds me of the Hippie days. The woman in the second shows the results of what appears to be a very hard life..
  3. Thanks for looking and taking the time to comment.

    I think these are the only two 'posed' street photos I've ever taken that were successful - and the circumstances had a lot to do with that.

    what do you think about the posing issue?
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  4. If I understand your question you are not asking "when should one ask permission" or "when should one pose" but are asking "I have an image, how do I make clear whether it was candid or not"?

    That's an interesting question (the other one is too situational and personal I think to yield anything but a lot of discussion without resolution).

    I have a somewhat similar situation; I generally shoot sports, and generally that means no alterations that affect content or alter the context of the scene. But, once in a while, someone wants a poster or a I might try some effect for fun, like adding a blur to a tennis stroke in post processing. The last thing I want is a newspaper to pick that up and run it as a sports image.

    I take pains to label the latter in the caption; but one might not look at captions, and lots of uses might strip EXIF. Clearly you don't want to put a big bright "Warning, here be creative content" watermark on them either.

    It's a good question, to which I have no clear answer, other than I intend to pay even more attention to context over time, so my artistic endeavors do not get mixed up with the photojournalism ones.
  5. thanks for contributing
    there is an alternate idea that I'd like to hear responses to. The issue of asking permission seems to blur invisibly into the 'this is a posed image' problem that is plaguing photographers.
  6. Well, certainly. I took that for granted. Asking permission = making the subject aware and self conscious = posing. Even if you are not the one telling them how to pose, they are posing for you then. There's no way to get permission in advance, and at least anytime soon after, get a candid shot; it's a contradiction in terms.

    The closest you can come are events where you "ask permission" in the sense you are supposed to be there, but you sneak (I use that term for a reason) shots at unexpected times. I have gotten some great shots of baseball players, for example, even though I was in their dugout, because they do not pay attention for 3 hours (usually not more than about 15 minutes) that I am there. They stop knowing they are being photographed, and you get more real shots. Lots of players just standing there get made into baseball cards in preference to action shots because they look so "baseball player"-ish. They are real. But if each time I signaled and said "can I take your picture now" -- I'll get a smile, a victory sign, a tongue stuck out... something posed.

    A posed shot is creative and artistic -- but it is not about reality.
  7. If you want candid take the shot and then AFTER ask the subject if it was OK, thus getting permission.
    If they say NO then delete the picture.

    You could even take the candid, walk up to the subject and ask, 'do you mind if I take your picture?'
    If they say yes take another 'posed' picture and thank them. You now have both with permission. If
    they say NO delete the candid out of respect.

    But (depending on the part of the world) if someone is in public then they have no expectation of privacy so
    as long as you are not going to use the image commercially you don't need permission.
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  8. I've been pondering this question over 2 big cups of coffee, breakfast, a shower and reading the NT Times. Maybe time for the hard stuff!
    Candids taken at events or locations where photographs are expected, such as wedding receptions, graduations, parades, etc., come with some level of tacit "permission." When I took students on field trips, or they were doing public poster presentations, I had written release forms and would shoot away with impunity. In both cases there was often the chance of candid, spontaneous (unposed?) pictures. Yes, sneaking a shot is such an apt term.
    Unposed pictures show context, posed pictures show the subject. ????
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  9. Nick also makes some excellent points... ;)
  10. I guess the more I read that the less I understand... how is the "posed image" problem plaguing photographers.

    I've read about plagiarized images, I've read about modified images, but I have not heard of a plague occurring over whether images are posed or not.

    Don't get me wrong -- I think it's an interesting question, and think it should be distinguished in news articles where posed vs. not posed presents a different message in the story.

    But where's the plague?
  11. There are a some iconic images, that have attracted controversy over whether they were posed or not: Capa's dying Spanish Civil War militiaman for one, and Joe Rosenthal's Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima for another. Not sure if that consitutes a "plague" :D
  12. I believe street photography has no rules. Either the photographer can ask everyone on the street before shooting or shoot purely candids, it's all up to you as the photographer. Honestly I like mixing it up for different looks and it really depends on the situation as well.
  13. Not being a street photographer I will defer to Jonathan and others and that genre. As for a plague, hmmm, weddings and engagements come to mind with "staged candids." But a plague?
    Certainly for photojournalism reenactments should be called out.
  14. I never ask permission. Posed photos are not "real" street photography.
    They are a moment in time.

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  15. Yeah--like a live recording versus a studio session!
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  16. One could argue that as soon as the subject is aware of the photographer, it really is a race against time.
  17. In 2011, on a National Geographic/Linblad trip to the Galapagos Islands, we were offered a "photowalk" with a fairly well-known National Geographic photographer in the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island. My wife and I and about three others went along. Not only did this photographer ask permission to photograph people, she asked them to pose for us. She even asked one young woman who was riding a bike to repeatedly ride it in front of a colorfully painted building for us to shoot her with that building in the background.

    I was very uncomfortable with this, and I've never posted any of them on the Cafe, but here is one:

  18. The difference between candid and posed is night and day.
    The emotion/real person shows thru in the former. I'm told
    all the time "you really captured my daughter's intensity"
    while working the rodeo circuit. As previously mentioned...
    once they become aware of the photographer you get some-
    thing else entirely. I'll leave the fake expressions alone, thx.
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  19. Personally, I am quite shy about candid photography. I try to take photos when the subjects are unaware. If they notice me shooting, I ask permission. Candids, I have a lot of throw aways....and then there is the winner.
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