Question: Has there been any discussions regarding photographing children?

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Don Heisz

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No, I was responding to the generalizations in your post. My arguments are for a nuanced response to the issue, favouring those who are careful and concerned about others - in particular children.

My post was not generalizing. If you look at what I've said through this thread, you will find that I advocate a moderate attitude to all this - without abdicating the rights of the individual to do what he or she deems worthwhile. You, on the other hand, generalize against all activity that could be perceived as infringing on more-or-less imaginary rights of individuals.

Anyway....

The information recorded on the film belongs to the photographer, but the information about me being where I am, doing what I was doing, being with who I was, etc., belongs to me.

Your post was long and worthwhile, Alex. I just wanted to point out that, when I said information gathered about you belongs to whoever gathered it, I wasn't specifically talking about picture-taking. If it was known you were at Park X with Woman Y on Day A -- that's something that's known and does not belong to you. That is prior to any interpretation.

I don't disagree with anything you said in your post, though. You stated pretty precisely exactly why I like Winogrand, for instance.
 

Arthurwg

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Totally agree. I mentioned it in another thread: I find Bruce Gilden approach to street photography and documentary photography unethical.


.Yikes! I had not seen any of Bruce Gilden's photos before you brought them to my attention. And yes, completely "unethical," as you say, and that's putting it mildly. I could use other language but I won't.

Still, I find some of his more abstract compositions really exciting and fresh.
 

Arthurwg

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… but I understand. Down here in the Wild West we generally refrain from “flipping the bird” to crazy drivers who break the law and are unsafe because they all too often shoot a gun in return.

Absolutely correct. Not sure if it was ever OK to flip the bird, but these days you would be gambling with your life. Lots of folks here are carrying guns most if not all of the time.
 

Cholentpot

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Absolutely correct. Not sure if it was ever OK to flip the bird, but these days you would be gambling with your life. Lots of folks here are carrying guns most if not all of the time.

An armed society is a polite society.

Put it this way, if I walk into a park and the Capone family is having a picnic, I'm not shootin' any pictures yeah? I surely would be with my legal rights but it'd be the same as biking into the lane with an 18 wheeler in a bad mood. I might be right, but I also might be dead.
 

MattKing

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markjwyatt

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The person who took these images is clearly a pervert and ought to be arrested immediately!

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Walker-Evans-26.jpg
 

MattKing

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The person who took these images is clearly a pervert and ought to be arrested immediately!

When those images were taken, children were seen as chattels under the law, and by society as something very different (in many ways) then they are now.
Yes, things have changed. For the better in most ways - such as infant mortality rates, levels of education, opportunities.
But that doesn't mean things are simple.
 

markjwyatt

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When those images were taken, children were seen as chattels under the law, and by society as something very different (in many ways) then they are now.
Yes, things have changed. For the better in most ways - such as infant mortality rates, levels of education, opportunities.
But that doesn't mean things are simple.

I am not sure children have much better legal status today then back then. {Moderator's deletion***}

I would say neither of those photographs represent chattel conditions. The top one certainly represents poverty, the lower one is a group of reasonably cared for children photographed without [apparent] adult supervision.
 
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MattKing

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I've deleted part of your comment Mark because it is about an issue that is so incredibly political and religious that it breaches all the Photrio rules about those sorts of discussions.
That moderation action was taken without any reference to the position you appear to be taking with respect to the issues referenced.

My reference to the children as chattels is actually a reference to how the law stood not too long ago. And more generally, about how radically changed things are from only a number of decades in the past.
Historically, most children had no rights and were rarely considered as being of importance under the law. The only exceptions tended to be children who were heirs entitled to substantial fortunes.
Traditionally, the only time that there were legal disputes about children were when having their "custody" meant that the custodial parent had access to the use of the substantial inheritances that those children were going to receive when some future event occurred.
And in those cases, the law heavily favoured the fathers - mothers often didn't even have standing to be heard in those cases.
The concepts of best interests of the child or parenting rights or a raft of other things that seem normal to us are remarkably modern.
I reference all that, because it was the context for how the world looked at photographs of children until fairly recently. If there was any complaint that might have been made back not so long ago about a photographer photographing a child without consent, it would probably have had been a complaint from a father - never a mother - about potential damage to his property (child).
 

Don Heisz

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That children used to need to work, used to have few legal rights, used to be considered property under the law - none of that has much to do with how parents at the time felt about their own particular children. Personal sentiment and societal viewpoints often have not completely corresponded.

Laws also have tended to not really be particularly ethically motivated. Rather, laws favour the idea of property ownership.

Lewis Hine's photos would have meant nothing to people if Matt's position had been accurate. Dickens' novels, also, would not have had any emotional significance. The law has never been good at determining the feelings of individuals (thankfully). And, prior to 100 years ago, most people didn't have any significant amount of property and were barely considered worthwhile by the law, even as adults.
 

Helge

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One approach is to simply refrain from photographing children as a simple courtesy to the children and their parents.

Ladies and gentlemen, Captain Obvious has struck again!
👏
With a little help from Lady Virtue Signal, if I’m not mistaken.
 

Alex Benjamin

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Anecdotal, albeit related, side note:

The photograph Two Girls with Identical Raincoats, Central Park, N.Y.C., taken by Diane Arbus in 1969, was originally meant to be included in the Aperture monograph that was published in 1972 to accompany the Diane Arbus MoMA retrospective. The father of the girls objected to the publication and the photo was removed.

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faberryman

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Ladies and gentlemen, Captain Obvious has struck again!
👏
With a little help from Lady Virtue Signal, if I’m not mistaken.

Occasionally it is helpful to point out the obvious when people are flailing around in the weeds to refocus their attention.
 
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BrianShaw

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The father of the girls objected to the publication and the photo was removed.
Interesting example. Is there any story of why he objected? When I see this situation in the news or YouTube it’s generally emotional “privacy” rationale and quickly devolves to suspicion of potential sexual usage. Or, perhaps he was concerned that one button was not identical… or the light leak?
 
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cliveh

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Anecdotal, albeit related, side note:

The photograph Two Girls with Identical Raincoats, Central Park, N.Y.C., taken by Diane Arbus in 1969, was originally meant to be included in the Aperture monograph that was published in 1972 to accompany the Diane Arbus MoMA retrospective. The father of the girls objected to the publication and the photo was removed.

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I am surprised Diane Arbus didn't ask the girl on the right to button her raincoat as the girl on the left, it would have made a better image. However, it is easy to criticise in hindsight.
 
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That could be the case, although park security didn't say that photography was not allowed and I didn't see any sign that mentioned it. But it wasn't worth fighting it.

Who goes to an amusement park with their family and doesn't take pictures? So let's see, I pay hundreds to get into Disney and they stop me from taking pictures?
 

Alex Benjamin

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I am surprised Diane Arbus didn't ask the girl on the right to button her raincoat as the girl on the left, it would have made a better image. However, it is easy to criticise in hindsight.

Diane Arbus never directed her subjects. She always asked them how they wanted to be shown. Choices she made regarded the environment she wanted to show, if it revealed something about her subject. One of her interest was the small fracture between how people saw themselves and how they wanted people to look at them (how they wanted to be seen or thought they were scene). Her photographs are always about self-identity.
 
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Yet it should, in a way. The fact is, apart from what you see as selfishness, what is done for the individual often benefits the greatest number in the end. There's nothing wrong with ambition, but it must be guided by intelligence. Chances are, someone who will make a significant contribution is not going to get in a fight in a playground with parents. But such an altercation cannot be what prevents someone from making a contribution, or nothing ever gets done. If it's a city instead of a playground, if it's citizens instead of children, if it's police instead of parents - you can see how all these things line up the same way.



I think it's only a matter of time before similar legislation is introduced everywhere. Canada, for instance, is never far behind Europe in legislating things that don't matter.

In the USA, taking pictures in public places is considered free speech and strongly protected by our constitution. While social norms may override the law, (ie. some father punching you in the nose for taking pictures of his kids), police and cities don't want to get sued for violating the right of photographers.

Of course, these free speech protections are weaker in other places like Europe and Canada.
 
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And of course, what often benefits the individual, can also harm the greatest number in the end.


Exactly. You don't avoid taking photos of children to avoid a fight with the parents. You avoid taking photos of children without prior consultation and agreement to help protect the interests - privacy and otherwise - of children.
If you have a very good reason to document something that needs documenting, then I support your legal right to do so. But if you are merely desiring to satisfy your artistic needs, than the children and/or their guardians should be consulted, because their interests are just as important as yours.

Who decides which things need to be documented? That's a slippery slope.
 
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The French seem very concerned about their photographic "privacy." I believe that under French law, everyone has an absolute right to ownership of their own image. That goes so far that people have been known to jump into a crime scene picture so they can later sue on publication.

The American constitution does not protect privacy in public places. If you can be seen there by passersby, then you can be photographed there. On the other hand, the US constitution does protect free speech which photography is part of.

I don't know what the French constitution protects if anything. Is this just a new law they passed? Does it violate the French constitution? Do they have a constitution that's the law of the land?
 
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I'm a proud Papa. Does this give my opinion more weight?

I'd rather if my child was not photographed and splashed all over social media but there's nothing I can do about it. If I go to a baseball game with my kid and we end up on the scoreboard and then some network picks it up and we're top funny sports moment of the day, there's nothing I can do.

Just don't let your kid pick his nose while he's at the game.
 
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