A Morning In The Streets

I’ve been hoping to explore some more street photography, as the opportunities arise, but there’s been one obstacle to me getting into this art form.

Street photography often uses people as the subject for photos, and I hate feeling as though I’m invading another person’s privacy.

Now, on a public street there is legally no expectation of privacy. So from that angle I’d not be doing anything wrong 1, but I’m a private person and I don’t think I’d want to have people walking up to me and taking photos unannounced. So, when I have done some more “traditional” street photography I’ve asked permission from the person to capture their image.

There are three exceptions to my rule of thumb. First, if the person’s face isn’t shown I have no problem capturing a photo. If feels less invasive, for some reason. Second, if the subjects are in crowd I won’t think twice to capture a photo. Third, if I have a long focal length and won’t disturb someone as I frame them for a photography I have less of a problem triggering the shutter 2.

On Thursday of our vacation, I was able to capture a street photograph which fit into exception three of my rule of thumb. Far ahead of me, sitting on a bench, was a gentlemen enjoying the ambiance of Duke of Gloucester Street before the daily hubbub began. He’s got his phone in hand, and a bottle of water by his side, as he ponders the book in his lap. I wonder if this is a daily ritual, or just something he enjoys doing on vacation.

A man enjoys a book in the morning light on Duke of Gloucester Street
Nikon D7000 with 55-300mm lens
270 mm
ISO 400
1/800 sec

  1. Though I do get a chuckle when I hear people in news reports claiming they don’t give permission to be photographed in pursuit of a story. 
  2. Though, if they notice me I’ll come over to introduce myself and offer to show the photo if they seem interested. 


  1. chrisjwilson says:

    I see your investigating the “dark side”. I’d suggest that if you take a photo of someone with their permission, it’s not technically “street photography” although this is the sort of thing that gets street photography proponents into debates for …well forever with some people saying street photography has no definitions and you define it, and others (the group I mostly ascribe to) saying it should generally be “candid, public, photography” so permission is a no no…still, I think if you want to take street photography with permission then that’s fine (even great) just make sure you mention the permission aspect or else some people can get…well, you know what the internet can be like. A constructive critique, an issue with longer lenses is they compress the background (as you recently mentioned) and so you can often get strange items coming out of people’s bodies…like the tree coming out of the mans back here, if you’d stepped an inch to the left, you’d probably have made a cleaner capture. Still, I look forward to seeing some more street from you 🙂

    1. wezlo says:

      I do know what the Internet is like! I also kinda enjoy playing with lens compression, so that might be a “thing.” Usually when I ask permission I typically wander a bit and let people get back to whatever they were doing. I still want candids!

    2. chrisjwilson says:

      Well I saw you like the Facebook page for the “shoot like the masters” challenge so I’m sure you’ll get a chance to do some candid photos soon! My top top tip for candid photos is that if you are relaxed and not nervous, people typically have a positive reaction. If you are nervous, then people get suspicions (because you look suspicious). Also, In three years I’ve had one negative experience and it was over in a minute. Admittedly I am more respectful than some street photographers who can be very aggressive but that helps me with the first part. Anyway, enjoy the experiments and work on your “thing”.

    3. wezlo says:

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. wezlo says:

    It’s also why I’ll be working with crowds, for the most part. No one questions a camera when they are in a crowd.

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