Henderson - Access and Consent in Public Photography

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<ul><li><p>90 ImageEt</p><p>Frededck Wiseman. Fitm Library</p><p>' Austin: University of Texas Press'</p><p>itrit """t' Masier's Thesis' uni-</p><p>ilm Tnth'" SattY evew' 9 SeP'</p><p>loralions: 15 Interviews with Film-</p><p>ent: A Stutt| in Decsionmaking in</p><p>a Bonks, anl</p><p>and Structure'"</p><p>New York: Praeger'The Ethics of Docu-ity Fitm Associalion</p><p>15-34'in Film</p><p>' SocietY</p><p>of Fieldwork"'</p><p>an on Film and</p><p>\</p><p>Access and Consentin Public PhotogrtPhY</p><p>Framed as a asPect of photographic practice,-the issue of consent innublic ohotography occurs at te iuncture of at lest two sets of contin-;;;*1 the rsiicludes features of social interaction between photlg-:;;.; *d th.i, subjects, and the second, organizational constraints;il;;g photographi work-for exanple, those imposed by the dM-sion of i6or in-tt"*tpoptt production' In the discussion of consent that;;li;;r i concentrate oi the first, social interaction in photographic en-,*tttt, drawing from research on the strategies both amateur andpiofessin photgraphers use to take Pictures of people unknown toihem in public places.l</p><p>fte'studv was based on a conception of photographing as Patterned, social interation among photographers, subjects and oft-camera par-i-d"; i;;*ttcular seogs, nd of photographs as products of-thisliott*tioo ivhose meaningepends in part on its assessment' More-hover. while all ohotosraDhlc bhavior is conventional to some degree,n ouUri" </p><p>"o"ouitrtr"b.ttueen photographers and subjects unknown to</p><p>aci other. oicture-takins is adpted to the broader setting' in contrast toEfotti"t- </p><p>"vents orga;ized around photographic imperatives' amorig</p><p>Gem studio portrait ssions and presi conferences' This adaptive per-Gti"" i-ofio ilt o.t to contextualize a description of photographic</p><p>Etn';""1*::,iJ,'J:1"i::H;..iH":::"J":iJl;</p><p>LISA HENDERSON</p><p>the behavioral move ot set of moves a pheto get the picture he or she wants' "Strategy"</p></li><li><p>needn't imPly Premeditation or even consciousness of these analytically</p><p>irtio"t.n'atthemomertt"t,:t,T'#l"',"Jj'r:"ii:Xor their Pictures are threat-frequent fhough not required</p><p>here.</p><p>more general set of constraints uPfeaturs of the subject and of thepher,tionsor avjustify particular interactional aDDrand informal concePuons of Privy photograptrers hold'</p><p>Consent</p><p>do subjects consent to? To haveuse.d ii some waY? While Photo-</p><p>es, consent strategies are framed insustain access (and in some cases</p><p>The rule of thumb is to ofter uone's conduct as might bmoments, in others fortween consent to takesent to use, is tYPicallY</p><p>I1 consent to takephotograPhers get accessral level, theY do so bY"normal aPPearances"'</p><p>lmge ElhicsPholographing in Publc Places: Access and Consent 93</p><p>T Relations in Publc (197L), Goftman outlines eight "territories of the self'to which we stake claims in our social lives, These terri-' tories include: , such as the-</p><p>atre seats and e of apparentinstnmental need; turns, that is, the order in which goods of some kindare received; pheath of skin and clothing; possessional teritory ("per-</p><p>, _so.g-.gq!g; infgrmation preserve, "that set of facts about himself towhich an individual expects to control acces while in the presence ofothers"; and conversation preserve, controlling when and by whom the</p><p>ests of a particular type of photograph, photographers attempt tomaintai "normal appearances."</p><p>sound to continue with the activity at hand with only peripheral at-In Goftman's terms, "normal appearances mean that it is safe and</p><p>_tention given to checking up on the stability of the environment"(1971:239). Importantly, such appearances may be real or contrived,eflecting either a stable situation or a predator's successful attempt toonceal from his prey his threatening intentions. Only rarely, however,</p><p>such an extreme model represent the circumstance between pho-</p><p>thE minor threat he may pose or the curiosity he may arouse, and willgldess himself in advance to the task of learning what is unexceptionalfol the setting, then engage in photography in ihatever form r withLhatevet approach will t. Maintaining normal appearances is a be-pauoral fact attended to by people in their everyday lives quite apart</p><p>and their subjects. Typically, the photographer is aware of</p></li><li><p>from activities as specific as photographing; to varying degrees weoto. ourselves oid oth"tt ill the time with or without a camera</p><p>rmal appearances needn't inply lhe pho-I- ""Tii"-.#:"::1iJ:fiii:</p><p>oresent but of no concern' Thuseclaration of his Presence and\/ithin tlp normal aPPearances</p><p>' ti..t'"i"g what is conventio there'.q-1;-^li'a-;it"*t continuum and declaration, il.in;Deafancepopular e PhotograPhers neither</p><p>- hide nor of ther imminent subjec--' tivitt; they are simPlY there'</p><p>Access and Practice in Public Places:Settings, Subiects, and Shategies</p><p>= " does notof the en'</p><p>of behaviors dePending on the tYP'etion' What follows then is a descrip-antl subjects that make a difference</p><p>to how photographers take pictures in public places'</p><p>Settngs</p><p>Photographing in public places: Access and Consent 95</p><p>The distinction between .,front,, and ,.back,, regions derives from atheatrical metaphor Goffman u:., 19- assign role,"fun"tioo, urrJ-rtug"places to social actors in day-to_day life,</p><p>:fft: gear in the front regions and back regions; rhe au_olel1 -appears only in the front region, and the outiides are ex_</p><p>cluded from both regions (1959:145).</p></li><li><p>96 Image EthicsPhotographng in Public Places: Access and Consent 97</p><p>through a variety of verbal or non-verbal means, generally declaringher intentions and not making any moves she feels would substantiateher subject's fear. In situations where the threat can't be anticipated,where she fails to anticipate it, or where it's ignored, a photographermay discover herself embroiled in that rae instance of non-complianceand be forced to restore the equilibrium or leave. If the picture is worthit, sbe may persist, depending on her sense of the like consequences.A scolding is tolerable, being shot at isn't, though the forms of non-compliance are routine more subtle than such consequences suggest.</p><p>SubjectsNo group of people is categorically oft-limits or of no interest to pho-tographers. Still, a shifting set of characteristics among subjects invitephotographers to take pictures in some instances, intimidate them inothers, and modify their practice in most. The most salient among thesecharacteristics are age, race, sex, apparent social class, situational mo-bility, engagement in instrumental activities, solitude or grouP mem-bership, and role relation to the setting (e.g. as visitor, employee,passerby, performer, or victim).</p><p>A frequently photographed subject group (especially for amateurs)is made up of front-stage participants in a variety of formal and in-formal outdoor performances. Street musicians, parade marchers,craftspeople demonstrating their work, dancers, acrobats, and drillteam members are familiar examples. Taking pictures of peformers,photographers are usually among other spectators, making their pres-ence and attention unexceptional and in many cases a welcome andflattering sign of appreciation. But even without a stationay audi-encs-for example, in the case of the street musician who plays for</p><p>nceo ltrat r w4 wurNri"i-,rra, g'oup, nd I just didn't</p><p>ir,i:,"T:Jlff ,r""r:'-"#:.'r"'J'T'H:il;'i*i;.;bil;urity if not their personal ideltitl' !considered on .,ou.tourc Ii :;i"t;;J"fi"e'.'reats to security</p><p>$r",3''frT1?''rifrtFtq"#:'#rti*r4'twith normal aPPearance</p><p>ey from passers-by-a person's engagement in focused activityr Characterized</p><p>cupy the highend of an access continuum which diminishes as a subject's activitybecomes less focused or more personal. This isn't to say that peoplewho fall at the other end aren't photographed, but rather that difierentcotlsequences are anticipated or difierent strategies employed, for ex-rample, using a telephoto lens. However, such an approach also dependson whether the subject is alone or with a group.f Th" photographers I interviewed describe photographing people$Puttic places as a form of "singling out" that sometimes requires an</p><p>ation or justifcation, especially when it is clear to an individual</p></li><li><p>that he or she is being isolated by the lens and when it's not aPParentthat he or she has special status in the setting (for example, as per-former). But this too varies depending on the nature of the location'At well-populated festivities, few restrictions are felt to exist even whensingling out individuals. If the territory is uncrowded and the activitymore private, care is required to avoid alarming subjects.</p><p>The situation is tempered further if the person is mobile, eitherwalking, running, or riding a bicycle. Under these circumstances pho-tographers anticipate that people are less likely to notice them, lesslikely to be sure they were the ones being photographed, and less likelyto interrupt their course in any event.</p><p>Demographically, normal appearances (and thus access) are sus-tained most smoothly when photographers work among people whosestatus or chaacteristics they share, particularly in settings that aeracially, economically, or generational segregated. (Photographingchildren is an exception. Children are thought to be less self-conscious</p><p>economic status is difiernt frm the established community's. This is</p><p>how photographers approach s residents, they often Prevent photog'raphers (p_qrticutarly amateqglJrom even considering that setting itrthe first place, depending oat and how much they know or believeabout the place through experiene or hearsay.</p><p>Strategies</p><p>Image Ethics</p><p>asslgnment.</p><p>otographer's work is almost never</p><p>Photographing in publc places: Access and Corcent</p><p>The emphasis grven to long-term projects by the photographers I inter'viewed iets up an initial point of access I call the entry point. WhereenEy to a setting is controlled (for example, by invitation, member'ship, or price of admission), a photographer has to get in before accessto individuals becomes an issue.</p><p>provides a photographer with both Parisage and a PersonalIn some cases entry is made through a symPathetic contact</p><p>99</p><p>I bought a Leica winder for itd";,,.h";il"#,i:ii"1:Tff "T;lr"j</p><p>;ii,",,*:;:;:';,ltl;*lL:::1,:,Xy, jiinnlf:*,r. rmmediately realized rhe ru,ili,y ot. .yrr.l-le"il"or,wr,"t l,r,corng, because I nanr to be abte'ro phot'."ph *id".T"nd, ,io*r socialize with them all the time, my way of getting closer. So I have</p><p>.</p></li><li><p>100 Imge Ethicsto hold a beer. Or a cigarette. My way to get close to them is I go upand say hey, can I have a cigarette? Okay. I smoke the cigarette andtake their picture.</p><p>In still other instances, photographers render their activity as un-alarrring as possible by remaining within a conventional role, in turn</p><p>photographng in public places: Access and Consent l0l</p></li><li><p>lO2 Image Elhicsdirected towad them' At that moment, the Photographer can shift aimand expose.</p><p>Reeigtnce,'Nhen photographers encounter resistance (any move on the</p><p>hand, they may attemPt toouences remain to be faced..n.tt undertake "remedial</p><p>shoots first and asks later, areHowever, more labor-intensivethe issue is access; Photogra-</p><p>phers must judge whether co-oPeratrc is required and' if it is' what-kind </p><p>of account is needed to continue'The most efficient communicative mode for remedial work is talk</p><p>atd the kinds of remedial talk P</p><p>the exposure'Tlie flatterY in this ex</p><p>move where it follows asecond in a series of two or moreorocess of remedial exchange'ppeal for access, and in this</p><p>i*::":11b": :ry rhose made ealier. However, more specificeraDorauve talk extends an initial explanation by offering firther1:ll ":1^".T" the ph:tographer's mtivation - purpor". For ex_iPj:-1,i,":Tfaper photographer I interviewed appraced riders onl:_li::,p-asubway by introducing herself as abaity ptanet staferyo:T:nq ona subway story and explaining what it was about the sub_lilrf,^T::,1l,Ch: l"t ele:.At rlat point, she followed any resistancewrln an emellished description of the attractive feature, be it how thechildren's red plastic traini looked great against ttrJr navy coats, orT:^jh:.9_:-ll.an holding his babilooke'pleasant catm amid thecnaos ot rush-hour. In turn, she followed these elaborations with an_otherpermission request and the photograph was rarely denied,</p><p>.wha1 is being elaborated upon i ft,"r" .*urnil., is the initialexplanation- Photographers explain themsetues in oier to assure sub_Jects that their motives are honest, benign, or exciting (witness thegj".r1._: f_.1*tng one's picture publishe,l=in a high_circlation daily).tn the.subway examples, the elaborated explanatlons serve in part,otone down the minor threat of singling out. th"y account fr whya subject was chosen in the frst plac-A f,r himvercome any mildsuspicionhe-might experience bout his selction. ihi. .* also beac:9mprs.9:_9 by describing the subject as a member of a class of:Tl,l,i J:Ii ,ntrgtoc;1p_tri1g shoppers" or by displacing accounr-l:t-"J l:l.T: choice.(',My boss told me ro," .,ri's a ichooiproject,,).such lnstitutional affiliations (work, school) are also carcd upon ojustify a photographer's actions under scrutiny,</p><p>An important issue relevant to aU typ;s of remedial talk is thepotential jor photographers to fabricaJ tn.i. explanations. SomePnotographers make up stories as a way_ of getting around lengthytruths they feel would b meaningless to ,it."ti, in elcf,ang" for terseand,effective. deceptions. They beeve thut ur'too! ul </p><p>"o f,.r. will come</p><p>li*:_r:li:"s as a resultbf the photograprr,"itb okay to te them:1,u,:]:r.,:o./ seem to want to hea based on who they appear to bei1"^.t:I11 _.p,!l.l:*ions ar expressed. From these phoiographersl^s:i:::i:: ,hu: l!r? considered thei work and theii pnoogiapnsru De rnnocent and their subjects' suspicions unreasonable^. aga--in it e</p><p>'d]'ni'1,i"J:"iiiJ:,::":i::*l**;:.:",#ao.Fupn.n usualty don'r persist. Though ;h";g.;.rs on the run$ji":l::, despit a mildirown or lefr-to-right nod of the head, those#:,:i, to get pennission after an elaboatd attempt rare take the</p><p>Phologtaphing in Pubtc places: Access nd Consent lO3</p></li><li><p>104</p><p>Conclusion: Photography and Privacy</p><p>Image Ethics Photographing in Public Places: Access and Consent 105create- a record of private behavior that subjects would probabty findundesirable or that might violate cultural norms, Even if there is'noth-ing apparently grievous or embarrassing about the situation, it may denypaficipants the chace to present themselves to the camera in their.,besllight," according to prevailing standards of representation.</p><p>However, it is part of a profesional photogapher's socialization to</p><p>to protect the public except against invasive abuses as they are com-mercially defined. Importantly, however, it is not only the ..abusive"</p><p>and in-depth,ting the tradi-I 983 ).</p></li><li><p>106 Image Ethics</p><p>in the An'</p><p>ColoPhon'York: An'</p><p>Hende il",i":t""i,li^:"::1"""nr"ttr"'.of PennsYlvania'</p></li></ul>