The controversy of street portraiture

Depending on where you live, it seems that it is becoming ever more difficult to take pictures of strangers in the street. People see the camera and automatically turn away or look annoyed. And yet the ironic thing is, we live in a society, which more than ever, is inundated with camera surveillance. How many CCTV cameras capture our movements on a daily basis is anyone’s guess but the trend is certainly for more not less observance of our movements. The thing is, we don’t even see the faceless people who watch us through CCTV. I touched on this subject with another blogger yesterday. How is it that we get on with our lives and ignore CCTV cameras but get all paranoid when someone in the street wants to take our picture. It doesn’t make sense. As Richard Guest the other blogger said “part of the reason for the reaction is the closeness of the capture. CCTV cameras are so remote and non-descript-looking that people forget they’re there. Whereas when I point my camera at someone, my intrusion is uppermost in their mind.” That could well be true. On the other hand we all observe other people as we ourselves are observed, even if it is as simple as watching someone while drinking a coffee in a bar. Another example, watch some workmen working on the street. They know you are there watching them and get on with their job as if you weren’t there. The moment you pull a camera out you can see how they stiffen up a bit, but in reality, what has really changed? So what about you street shooters out there. What are your thoughts?

A street capture of a group of nuns in an ice-cream parlour. Also, if you notice, the picture of the ice-cream cone in the window was obviously stolen from iStockPhoto as it still has the watermark on it!