The Little Voice
Your batteries are charged the lenses are clean and you’ve packed your rain coat. Then the little voice in your head starts asking questions:
- Am I allows to do this?
- What if someone asks what im doing?
- What if people think im weird
- Should I just use my phone so people won’t notice?
- What if I don’t get any good shots?
These are all questions that still, to this day, pop up in my head before a session in the streets. in the section that follows I will attempt to answer these questions (and hopefully put your mind at rest).
Am I Allowed To Take Photographs In Public?
It is not illegal to take photographs or video footage in public places … The taking of photographs of an individual without their consent is a civil matter.
askthe.police accessed 27 Jun 21 (https://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q717.htm).
But what does that mean in reality? In the United Kingdom, as long as you are in a public place, it is not illegal to photograph a person without their permission. Now there are a few cases where this may be challenged by authority. For example, if a photograph is taken of an individual classed as a “soft target”, under the terrorism laws, the Police may ask you to delete the image.
In my experience, this will not readily be an issue for most street photographers!
In reality, subjects may (very rarely) ask why you are taking photographs, and more importantly, of them. It is always best to be completely open and honest!
What If Someone Approaches Me?
My reply to “Are you taking a photograph of me?” has been and will remain:
Hi there, I have taken a photo of the surrounding area with you in the shot. If you wish I can show you? If you would rather I delete it, I’d be more than happy too.
You will be far more successful in your street photography journey if you remain polite and respect people’s privacy. And who knows, they may even take your details to see the final product… cheeky little future client?
What Will People Think Of Me?
It took me a while to learn this little secret … “No one actually cares”.
People now days are either taking photos themselves (on their phone) or are too busy with their busy lives to even notice you.
For the introverts out there (myself included) reminding yourself that “No one actually cares” is enough to suppress any anxieties that may crop up. The end result will always be worth putting yourself out there.
The bigger problem to worry about is when they start posing to “make it easier for you”!
Using Your Phone To Save Embracement
In the modern world, mobile phone photography most certainly has its place. It is far more convenient to pull your phone out to grab a quick image. Arguably, significantly easier and more often than not, allows you to get an image you would have otherwise not if you were carrying your DSLR.
However, in the context of suppressing that Little Voice I would strongly advice against it. Think of your phone as a safety net. In a situation where a DSLR would be insensitive or would distract the subject to the point you would miss the shot – use the phone. Having the image is far better than not – in every situation.
Otherwise, remember … “No one actually cares”.
What If I Don’t Get A Good Shot?
This is all in your hands. The photographs you regret are the ones you don’t take.
Editing can completely transform an image. I have written a small piece on the matter here.
- It is not illegal, in the UK, to photograph someone in a public place
- If someone asks you to delete a phot of them, please do – no image is worth the confrontation
- Use your phone only if you absolutely have to – or dedicate a full session to mobile phone photography
- Photography is subjective – you may not think it’s a good shot… someone will
- If that Little Voice crops up just remember…… “No one actually cares”.