Take the damn photos already

A commenter who identifies himself as Wigwam Jones took great exception to our recent writeup on Photography: Rights vs Respect. Personally, I disagree in part, but Jones makes his points so succinctly, that it’d be a shame not to toss it up to a wider audience.  

The way photographers lose their rights is by implying to others that they have some sort of right to not have their photograph taken. Eventually, people begin to believe it. There is no ‘right to privacy’ in public in the USA, as you stated. While it is up to the individual photographer to decide if he or she wants to take a photograph of a particular scene or individual, asking for permission is asking for trouble. Take the photo. Do it. Do not apologize, do not ask for permission. Permission is for sucks. Uphold freedom, take the photo.


Did the ATM machine that just took your photo as you walked by ask your permission first? What about the police surveillance cameras on light poles and traffic signals? How about the various cameras in every convenience store, bank, and many other businesses? Just because they are automated, those who put them there are somehow off the hook? No. If a person is in public and I want to take a photo of them, I do. I will not stop doing it. I’m doing the heavy lifting of ensuring continuing freedom of the press and freedom of expression by doing so.

The Amish know perfectly well that they don’t have the right to demand that no one take their photo. They will turn their heads or turn their backs at the last moment to spoil the shot – that’s their right to do so. But their desire is not the same as a right – if I indulge them, it is me indulging them, not their right to demand it of me.

Take the photos. Liberty beckons. Get busy.

Wigwam Jones is a photographer. He is currently working on putting together an on-line photography course, which can be found on Camera Mentor. It’s a work in progress, but we can’t but wish him good luck on his effort!

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