Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Studious

Studious reader on the Red Line

Yesterday, I had to go downtown for a haircut and to the office of a client to edit a document for them. Rather than fight traffic and pay through the nose for parking, I took the red line from Takoma to Chinatown. One of the stops is Brookland/CUA. This young man got on at that stop, sat down, and started reading a copy of Newsweek magazine he had in his hand. He was so intent on his article, I don't think he noticed when I rested my camera on my knee and snuck this picture. (Or maybe he did and he was too gracious to say anything.) I didn't get his name or story, but in my imagination I decided he's a poli-sci major at Catholic University and his goal is to one day run for Congress... Or something like that...

One of these days, I'll muster up the courage to actually ask the strangers I photograph if I can photograph them and what their stories are. Until then, here is Studious on the Red Line.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 09/08

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

So you've taken a photo of someone and distributed in on the internet without their permission? That's low. Whatever happened to their right to privacy?

kunal bhatia said...

i think its quite ok.. as long as your not offending the person in any manner.
and that's what i think is a major difference between shooting ppl where ur at v/s where i am living.
- Mindless Mumbai

D.C. Confidential said...

Anon: Photos of people are taken every day and distributed on the internet without their permission. Surely you read newspapers and watch the news and view YouTube videos. The reach of those types of photos is far, far broader than my little blog which, on an average day, less than 200 people look at and read. If you want to talk about low, let's have a discussion about people who leave scathing comments anonymously, shall we? I don't mind being given a piece of a person's mind and welcome disagreement, but have the balls to do it using your name. Thanks for dropping by.


Kunal: Thanks for your perspective.

Lara said...

this is a great portrait!

marley said...

I think this is a good photo, but you still haven't got a story!

The person who left the first comment isn't in the real world. Our images are taken every single day, hundreds of times over, with out our permission. If I take a photo of a strret in my town full of people I don't ask each of them for their permission. The whole issue is an interesting one and its good to debate the rights and wrongs, but 'anonymous' should be a bit braver if he/she really wants to join in.

D.C. Confidential said...

Lara: Thanks!


Marley: I agree. In fact, I agree so much, tomorrow's blog will open the door for a debate regarding privacy and posting pictures of people. When you leave snarky comments anonymously, be prepared for me to snark back! LOL!

Virginia said...

Public place, the photographer has the right. Maybe we need to post the "PHotographer's Rights" on here. Anonymity is the coward's podium. There's a constructive way to approach an issue of concern and there's this way. I say bring it on DC!

Strangetastes said...

Okay, as one of CDPB's resident lawyers: there is no right of privacy in the US for what you display of yourself in public. Anybody can look at you on the train and anyone can put your picture on the web for all to see. That's part of how news media function. There are exceptions at some times in some states for photos of people used for commercial purposes, although some courts, notably in New York, distinguish between pure commerce (a magazine ad, a business' web site) and so-called art photography (even if the photographer sells it). That's why photographers get model releases if the photos are for advertising, etc. What DC Con has come is completely acceptable under American law. Other country's laws differ. France is kind of a pain in this regard.

Dusty Lens said...

On our MPLS blogger photo walkabout, we had this conversation. Mitch pointed out it is OK to photograph people without their consent, they being in public places. But you can not sell these photos without their consent.

When we are out in the public spaces, there is no right to privacy. If there were privacy rights, we'd be able to enjoy a cigar with a glass of 12 year old Balvanie scotch on the train, or in the park.

Oddly enough, people have private cell phone conversations in our public areas. Thus their cell conversation is no longer private. I fnd these cell conversations in public places, especially cafes and restaurants very low. I hope to build a cell jamming device that will interupt cell signals when dining in a restaurant. Strange times we live in.

If this person was in their home, this would be a violation.

D.C. Confidential said...

Virginia: I'll be bringing it on tomorrow! And you're one of my star examples. As for comments: I agree. I don't have a problem with Anon's comment. My issue is that they didn't have the guts to say it and identify themselves. Had Anon left a name, my response might have run something like this: "My apologies if you feel my posting this gentleman's photo was low and/or a violation of his right to privacy. If you go through my blogroll, I can guarantee you will find similar postings all across the internet. If you still object to my photo after viewing other blogs, please let me know."


Strangetastes: Thank you for the legal rundown on this. My gut sense is, what Anon is really objecting to is the sneaky manner in which I took this gentleman's picture. Perhaps that wasn't above board on my part, but as you point out, it also isn't a tacit violation of his privacy as he is in public.

Maya said...

Nice shot! I also snapped a couple of shots of people today, but none of them turned out well enough to post.

Wayne said...

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that if you had mentioned after the fact that you'd taken his pic he would have been fine with it or even pleased.

If he knew about it I'll bet he'd tell friends that his pic was on a blog and where they could see it.

I've got this pesky shutter sound on my camera, which can be silenced, but only by people with degrees in computer science. Consequently I can't do the stealthy stuff.

All of our faces are captured dozens, if not hundreds of times a day on security cameras. My feeling, who cares.

Good for you for leaving the Anon post in JM.

D.C. Confidential said...

Rob: Your comment must have posted while I was responding to VJ and Strangetastes remarks. That said, I agree with you on all points. If you're in public, you're pretty much fair game. If I'd been at this man's home, that would be different. As for cell phone conversations in public--or cell yell, as my sister calls it--don't even get me started. So.very.annoying. Let me know when you get that cell jammer invented. I'll buy one.


Maya: Thanks! As for the quality of your photos, post 'em. I'm sure they're great. Your people pics always are!


Wayne: I agree. He probably would have been fine with it. My goal for the next time I'm in a similar situation and taking a picture is to do exactly that. Hell, I spent US$40 on card from Moo to be able to do that. I need to start using them! As for Anon's comment, unless it's belligerent or threatening, I pretty much leave comments as they are. Taking them down let's them off the hook!

Virginia said...

Rob, If I had any spare cash I would subsidize your CELL JAMMER! I hate cell phone talkers almost as much as I do people that.... well you know what I 'm talking about.

DC. I also want to pipe up one more time to say that your photograph today in no way degraded the person you photographed. He was not portrayed in a demeaning, offensive or embarrassing way. Why you predicted that he was headed for a brilliant career in what- politics? Most of us would relish that kind of commentary. I'm off my soapbox until probably tomorrow.

Debi said...

Legally? US law says that if they are in a public place, they are public, and so long as you aren't selling the photo you don't need a "model release."

Morally? I think if you posted embarrassing pictures of people doing things which maybe they'd rather not live on forever, then it would cross the line. (However, in some cases if they are doing stupid things in public, that's their bad anyway. See Johntv.com)

Common Sense? These pictures depict the BEAUTY of people. Come on, anon. Don't you have better things to do than complain about nice things? Ugh. What a world.

D.C. Confidential said...

VJ: Perhaps Rob should submit his idea to the Google 10-to-the-100th project and see if they'll fund it!

As for the picture, like you, I'm a people watcher and I like to imagine what their stories are. I avoid conjuring stories that would be degrading to a person, even if they're down and out destitute. This young man's visage struck me and I thought he'd make a compelling photograph. Based on the feedback I've had from you and others, I'd say I was right!


Debi: Common Sense? These pictures depict the BEAUTY of people. Come on, anon. Don't you have better things to do than complain about nice things? Ugh. What a world.

And to that I say, "AMEN!" Thank you.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

Well debate aside I think this a great picture. A wee bit lomo and a whole lot great! I keep wanting to take these sorts of photos but usually don't have the courage! I get all self concious and then the moment is gone.

As for the debate...I will post in reply to your post above about that!

D.C. Confidential said...

Lisa: I hadn't even thought of lomo, but now that I love at it, you're right! Cool! I like this picture even more now.

Lucy said...

Wow, Tewks...you sure know how to get a conversation started. And hey....you can take my picture anytime when I'm not looking. And if it turns out to be as good as "guy on subway", I'll even let you sell it. 50/50 I mean. 60/40?

D.C. Confidential said...

Lucy: Deal!

b.c. said...

this was a great photo...i really like it

D.C. Confidential said...

Thanks, B.C.!