The Good, The Bad, The Creepy


Minnesota State Fair

Thursday nights are the time to sit and tune into The Grid Live … +Scott Kelby and associates’ weekly live blog show about all things photography. Scott welcomed his wife +Kalebra Kelby and +Matt Kloskowski as they prepared to discuss Street Photography. Scott tells of an episode he had while in Paris filming “A Day with Jay Maisel in Paris” when a woman took offense to being photographed and created quite a stir in response.

The discussion then turned to photographing women on the street and what their perceptions of getting photographed were. In short, Kalebra and two other female guests spoke to how creepy it was! One of the women voiced a very strong instinct to protect her children from being photographed and would be extremely upset with a photographer that did so.

I don’t deny them their feelings and instincts. Their expressions are completely primal and uncontrollable. Like all humans they require security and an interloper such as some creepy photographer can present an endless array of discomforts to a creative and suspicious mind. In contradiction, however, they admitted that the more credibility the photographer had (even if it’s only on the surface: id badge, crew, handsome, available?) the more willing they were to allow the photograph and turn their concerns to how they felt about themselves at that moment: self-consciousness.

It’s an interesting contradiction of themes that send strange and conflicting messages to the sincere student of Street Photography.

I look at this issue two ways ... first and foremost, I'm a photographer in a public place and have the right to photograph anything there no matter how creepy somebody thinks the act of photographing people on the street may be. I would like to point out that I am not creepy nor do I harbor creepy intent. Whether you are particularly photogenic or not I allow you to think I'm creepy that's your right. But the bottom line is you, as a street subject, lost your right to privacy when you entered the public space.*

Secondly, the sincere and serious student of the craft needs to remember that no matter the activity you aspire to your success is based on the quality of your relationships. Including the fleeting relationships of street photography. Sadly, there are photographers who are creepy, whether they have a camera in their possession or not, they're creepy. We all know people like that. Every photographer should understand what creepy is and avoid it. I just ask photographers to do one thing and one thing only:

When you're exercising your public rights to execute your craft, please remember that you represent all of us. All other photographers. Take the work seriously. Take the relationships you create seriously and don't leave a cloud of creep behind.

* One "gotcha" you have to know about is a public space may be privately owned or operated. Example: an outdoor shopping complex. And security may exercise the right of their patron's privacy. That happened to me once ... I still think this may be a stretch.

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