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Matt Quinn
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Invasion of privacy?

Post by Matt Quinn » Fri Dec 22, 2017 9:57 pm

While waiting for my bride at the mall, I took this photo of an employee who had stepped out for a smoke. I kept far away so as not to interfere. I have hesitated to post, wondering whether I was violating a private moment, even though it was public. The convergence of the posture, curb lines and the Stop sign called out to me. The person had chosen to sit at the very end of the red emergency paint strip. Thoughts? Thanks. Matt
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Post by minniev » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:39 pm

Matt Quinn wrote:While waiting for my bride at the mall, I took this photo of an employee who had stepped out for a smoke. I kept far away so as not to interfere. I have hesitated to post, wondering whether I was violating a private moment, even though it was public. The convergence of the posture, curb lines and the Stop sign called out to me. The person had chosen to sit at the very end of the red emergency paint strip. Thoughts? Thanks. Matt


It makes for an interesting image/story.

We all have to find our own way in these things. I've taken similar photos, on public properties of course, and I don't always ask permission first. If the person is readily visible by anyone passing by, I usually don't feel like I"m invading privacy. However, I did not try to take a photo of the woman who fell at the parade last night and required medical care. The difference? I am not sure, just a feeling. I've taken photos of homeless people and poor people, tourists and entertainers and general passersby in public areas. I sometimes talk with them after I take the shot, show it to them, and sometimes I've been able to track them back down later to give them a print. It's a complex subject and might take your thread in an entirely different direction than image quality...
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Matt Quinn
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Post by Matt Quinn » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:33 am

Thanks, Minnie. Sometimes, if I sense it's appropriate, I will also talk to the person and offer to send a photo; the have universally declined because, I suspect, they do not want to provide personal info, even thought I don't look like Jack the Ripper. But who knows? This person got up suddenly and, with head bowed, hustled back into the store. I didn't pursue.

If this person were lying on the ground, however, I would not have taken the photo. In that situation, the vulnerability of the individual makes it inappropriate, in my mind. Thanks. Matt
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Post by Duck » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:37 am

Think of it this way; would this image have the same impact if he was just sitting there nonchalantly looking at you with "permission" in his eyes?

His "private moment" is only his in his thoughts, not in his actions.If he truly wanted a moment alone he would not have gone outside onto a public street. As a photographer we do have to be aware of what has been called an "expectation of privacy". Secluded in a corner of a restaurant, in a changing room or bathroom, behind a blind or screen... these are areas where people expect a little privacy. In this case you are reading body language and inferring an expectation of privacy, but the actions say otherwise.

In the end, it does come down to what you are comfortable recording in camera. Emotionally, though, this is pretty darn strong.
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Matt Quinn
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Post by Matt Quinn » Sat Dec 23, 2017 2:17 am

Duck wrote:Think of it this way; would this image have the same impact if he was just sitting there nonchalantly looking at you with "permission" in his eyes?

His "private moment" is only his in his thoughts, not in his actions.If he truly wanted a moment alone he would not have gone outside onto a public street. As a photographer we do have to be aware of what has been called an "expectation of privacy". Secluded in a corner of a restaurant, in a changing room or bathroom, behind a blind or screen... these are areas where people expect a little privacy. In this case you are reading body language and inferring an expectation of privacy, but the actions say otherwise.

In the end, it does come down to what you are comfortable recording in camera. Emotionally, though, this is pretty darn strong.


Thank you, Duck. Good clarification. Matt
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Post by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer » Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:40 am

Really enjoy this image Matt.

When we wait and ask for permission, what we saw won't be there any longer.
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Post by Matt Quinn » Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:14 am

Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:Really enjoy this image Matt.

When we wait and ask for permission, what we saw won't be there any longer.


Very true, Ernst. Thank you. Matt
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:42 pm

I don't think it's an invasion at all. I think it's solid "street." It has impact. It's well composed. It makes me sad, which is true for me of a lot of street. The guy's body English screams sad! I can easily come up with all sorts of sad backstory, which I think is much of the point of street. (Plus I'm in a mood right now so my thinking is pretty bleak anyway.)
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Post by Graham Smith » Sat Dec 23, 2017 5:12 pm

Absolutely no invasion of privacy here Matt. The whole time honoured genre of street photography is founded on, amongst other things, images such your fine example of the genre.
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Matt Quinn
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Post by Matt Quinn » Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:41 am

Charles Haacker wrote:I don't think it's an invasion at all. I think it's solid "street." It has impact. It's well composed. It makes me sad, which is true for me of a lot of street. The guy's body English screams sad! I can easily come up with all sorts of sad backstory, which I think is much of the point of street. (Plus I'm in a mood right now so my thinking is pretty bleak anyway.)


I thought 'sad,' too, as well as fed up, overworked, discouraged... The person -- not sure whether it was male or female -- sort of stomped out of the store looking neither left nor right and plopped down on the curb, took out the smokes and folded into himself. The supportive reactions here on pM have prompted me to go back and rework it, projecting more dark mood into it.

Also, I am "analyzing" Ernst's photos to figure out how he does what he does, if I can. Most have the same "look" but I cannot put it into words -- they are photos, after all, not essays. I don't know whether he has a recipe or secret sauce he applies to all and then tweeks here and there to suit his taste. I would like to develop a "style," that I can use initially on my bws. I am exploring PS, as I mentioned, and taking some tutorials with Unmesh -- incredible guy -- and have played around with some of the basic stuff, but I can go only so far and then I try to export back into Lightroom and the file vanishes. Patience, patience. I will figure it out.

Peace and good things. Matt
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