Petition to outlaw public breastfeeding photos is on after mom-photographer clash

Jun 23, 2021

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Petition to outlaw public breastfeeding photos is on after mom-photographer clash

Jun 23, 2021

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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A UK woman recently started a petition to ban taking photos while breastfeeding in public. She claims that a “creepy” man took photos of her while she was breastfeeding in public and refused to delete them. And now, she wants to make this “disturbing, intrusive act” illegal.

Julia Cooper tells her story in the petition she published on Coming home from a meetup with friends, she took a break on a public bench to feed her nine-month-old baby. “As I was breastfeeding, I noticed a man on another bench staring,” Cooper writes. “I stared back to let him know I’d clocked him, and that I wasn’t okay with his gaze.”

However, the man apparently couldn’t read minds. Cooper further claims that he attached a telephoto lens to his camera and began photographing her. “I quickly turned round so my back was facing him and finished feeding my baby,” she says. “But I couldn’t relax, all I could feel were his eyes and camera lens on me.”

After she was done feeding the baby, Cooper confronted the photographer and asked if he’d photographed her. He confirmed it, and she claims that he refused to delete the photos. “He calmly told me it was his right to photograph me as I breastfed because we were in public.”

The situation escalated as Cooper took it to the park warden, and later to Greater Manchester Police. However, they confirmed that the photographer complied with the law – so now she wants to change the law.

“We now need to show the Government that this issue is important, and has the public backing to turn into legislation,” Cooper writes. “I refuse to concede to the man that went home with photos of me and my baby, and I hope you will join me in my campaign to update the law and protect breastfeeding women.”

Cooper wants supporters to sign the petition and let their MP know they want them to back the amendment that would make it a crime to take photos of breastfeeding without consent. She even left you a template email to your MP to make it easier, and you can find it within the petition.

Now, I think this is a very slippery slope. First of all, I’d like to hear the photographer’s side of the story. But based on what I know, let me try and be objective here.

First of all, you can’t expect to have privacy in a public place. That’s why it’s called “public,” and that’s why it’s not illegal for anyone to take photos. Also, with all those CCTV cameras and people with phones, you’ll be in at least one photo or video every time you go outside. So, I think a single photographer is the least of your problem, and he really didn’t do anything illegal.

However, the law is one thing and empathy is another. I read all sorts of comments on this story, and some people were judging Cooper for breastfeeding in public. For starters, I’d like to tell them that it’s not always possible to be at home at the usual time of feeding. And here’s a fun fact: you can’t tell a baby “Wait till we get home, then I’ll feed you.” So, women sometimes need to sit down wherever and feed their little ones, and that’s perfectly normal and natural.

Now that we got that out of the way, the next thing I want to say is that, no matter how natural breastfeeding is, many women feel uncomfortable doing it in public since they’re often judged. So, no matter how much I get the law – I can totally understand how Julia Cooper felt when the man photographed her during this delicate moment.

Therefore, when she approached him and asked him to delete the photos, I understand where it came from. Even though he did nothing illegal, I think that he should have deleted them. In fact, I think that you should delete any person’s photo if they explicitly ask you to do it, regardless of the law. At least that’s what I’d do, but I understand we’re not all the same.

All in all, I understand the photographer as a fellow photographer, but I understand Cooper as a woman. I don’t want to pick sides since I don’t know both sides of the story, but I’d like to hear what you think based on what we know. What would you do if you were in the photographer’s place? Or if you were in the mom’s place?

[via PetaPixel]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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41 responses to “Petition to outlaw public breastfeeding photos is on after mom-photographer clash”

  1. Lis Thomsen Avatar
    Lis Thomsen

    Yes, he was on legal ground, but not moral. He should have stopped photographing when she showed she was not OK with it, and he should have deleted them when she asked for it.
    Here it would be illegal to use these pictures in any public way i.e. online or print exhibition, so why keep them. He is just giving street photographers a bad reputation.

    1. Duncan Dimanche Avatar
      Duncan Dimanche

      Lis Thomsen I agree with you 100%…. it’s just creepy at this point

    2. Rickey J. Farmer Sr. Avatar
      Rickey J. Farmer Sr.

      Unfortunately you are incorrect. A photo taken in a public space is legal. A photographer is legally covered and can photograph anything that can be seen from a public place. The Constitution is a wonderful thing in many ways and in this country if it’s in public there is no expectation of privacy. Just a small amount of research will enlighten those that disagree.

    3. John Atkin Avatar
      John Atkin

      Rickey J. Farmer Sr. As neither the incident nor this commenter are in the US, I’m afraid you’re wrong to call them incorrect.

    4. Jerimiah Miles Avatar
      Jerimiah Miles

      Street photogs already have a shit reputation.

    5. Paul Destocki Avatar
      Paul Destocki

      I don’t know where here is, however in NY it is perfectly fine to sell or exhibit anything shot in public on public ground. If not all the newspapers would be out of business.

  2. Tunes Firwood Avatar
    Tunes Firwood

    Photographers are fond of loudly proclaiming that their antisocial behaviour is not illegal, and therefore beyond reproach. This is how laws change, and photographers have nobody else to blame.

    1. Tunes Firwood Avatar
      Tunes Firwood

      Now how about that. :P

  3. John Wojciechowski Avatar
    John Wojciechowski

    It’s still flashing in public. Do it in a private setting. Problem solved.

    1. Duncan Dimanche Avatar
      Duncan Dimanche

      John Wojciechowski you make it sound like any mom is always within a 5mn walk from their house…

      And a baby eats a lot so yeah…

    2. John Wojciechowski Avatar
      John Wojciechowski

      Duncan Dimanche, women have been doing it privately for millennia. Unless you lived on a remote island somewhere.

    3. Lis Thomsen Avatar
      Lis Thomsen

      John Wojciechowski No, it’s only very recent it’s een frowned upon y some prudish individuals.

    4. Brian Fergusson Avatar
      Brian Fergusson

      John Wojciechowski It’s not “flashing” – it’s a completely normal, necessary human function. Being uncomfortable with the idea of public breastfeeding is your issue to deal with, undoubtedly exacerbated by the sexualization of breasts over human history.

    5. Justin Van Marle Avatar
      Justin Van Marle

      John Wojciechowski Jesus Christ man-It’s not ‘flashing in public’, it’s feeding a baby, why do you think breasts are there in the first place?! That’s literally the definition of what they’re designed for you absolute idiot. If you can’t see the difference between flashing and feeding then you’re most definitely part of the problem. ?

    6. Craig Alexander Lamont Avatar
      Craig Alexander Lamont

      John Wojciechowski please take your sexist, misogynistic, out dated views and crawl back into 1950, where you and your views belong.

    7. Duncan Dimanche Avatar
      Duncan Dimanche

      John Wojciechowski you clearly need to go out more man…
      here in France they breast feed wherever they want and no one cares.
      Some put a towel to cover their breast and some don’t… but once again no one cares.

      you know that there are other places outside the US ?

    8. John Wojciechowski Avatar
      John Wojciechowski

      Duncan Dimanche, I’ve been to France. I noticed they don’t pick up after their dogs. And, I guess no one cares. Good selling point to travel.

    9. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
      Jolyon Ralph
    10. Karl Delahaye Avatar
      Karl Delahaye

      John Wojciechowski So you’re a bit of a dick.

    11. John Wojciechowski Avatar
      John Wojciechowski

      Karl Delahaye, for being a person with decency? Yes.

    12. John Wojciechowski Avatar
      John Wojciechowski

      Karl Delahaye, for being a person with decency? Yes. If I was a woman nursing my child, you sure as hell would not be getting a free show. Perv!

    13. Woo Veitch Avatar
      Woo Veitch

      Dude, if you think a mother breastfeeding her infant is a ‘show’, you are definitely the perv. The fact that you’ve also monetised it?! Yeah you’re a full on weirdo.

    14. Vincent Cyr Avatar
      Vincent Cyr

      Brian Fergusson I mean, I get your point, but since a human female’s breasts have actually evolved as a sexual display device(them being as large and prominent as they are is unnecessary for function. Look at apes. They dont have large breasts), their intent was actually to be sexualized in the first place. Over-sexualizaton is admittedly a problem though

    15. JudeLawGuardian Avatar

      Yup. ???

  4. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
    Jolyon Ralph

    It’s photographers like this who ruin photography for everyone. Yes, of course this sort of intrusive photography should be outlawed. And when you want to blame someone for the loss of your freedoms take a hard look at yourselves.

  5. Jalan Lee Avatar
    Jalan Lee

    I never take a portrait without consent. With that established, I say to Julie Cooper “why don’t you grow up!” If you are in public you have no privacy. There were literally hundreds of cameras around the park where you fed your baby. Dozens of surveillance cameras probably captured photos and video. Are you are going to have them all thrown in prison because of your feelings? If you do something in public you cannot both call it natural and beautiful (and it is) and want anyone who sees you jailed. Don’t want anyone to see or photograph or video your breast feeding? Then don’t do it in public, cover with a blanket, or wear a tent.

    1. JudeLawGuardian Avatar

      EXACTLY. Don’t like it? Don’t whip it out in public. Go to your car or restroom like people used to do until everyone got so insistent on shoving their “rights” down everyone else’s throats. Or just put it in a bottle and take it with you.

  6. W Douglas LeBlanc Avatar
    W Douglas LeBlanc

    Oh poppycock! That tripe won’t fly in Canada.

  7. Jason Dunning Avatar
    Jason Dunning

    You are in a public area and so is the photographer. Just because he is creepy does not make it illegal.

  8. g_discus Avatar

    if you doing something in public, you have been seen.

  9. Paul Destocki Avatar
    Paul Destocki

    Simply put, carry a bottle of breast milk, use a breast pump, cover with a towel. If you don’t want something photographed don’t do it in public places on public ground.

    1. JudeLawGuardian Avatar

      ?????????????????????? THANK YOU!!! My suggestion exactly.

  10. Justin Case Avatar
    Justin Case

    There is a middle ground here. Any attempt to block people from recording what happens in the public domain undermines free speech and undermines art and should be treated with the greatest reservation.

    But if a photographer exclusively singles out a person in public to take multiple images, there should be more recourse to protective laws around harassment and infringement of the recipients IPR. Bringing a test case to court would be a pretty precarious course of action though, as it’s highly unlikely that the incumbent government in Britain would do anything as useful as providing updated guidance to the courts on this issue.

  11. Steven Naranjo Avatar
    Steven Naranjo

    There’s no budging on this for me. Your in public. There’s creeps in public. I’m perfectly fine with shaming them and making it public about their action. But no. Never go in that direction of banning photo/video in a public area. You want to have privacy while breast-feeding cover-up or do it in private.

  12. Woo Veitch Avatar
    Woo Veitch

    What’s tricky about this?! The guys a douche. Screw the law, if he is willing to make people feel this uncomfortable, he’s a straight up c*nt. I bet he scanned for a bit to see if her husband was around, urgh. How is this any different from trying to photograph up a woman’s skirt without consent?

  13. Vincent Cyr Avatar
    Vincent Cyr

    Honestly, both on legal and ethical grounds, this is tricky.
    On one hand, she is breastfeeding in full public view, making no effort to hide what she is doing, then yeah, the photographer does have every right to record it. Them choosing to do it in public means they made a conscious to give up the right to privacy.
    On the other hand, ogling people and being generally creepy is, while not usually illegal, is generally considered rude. It’s one thing to take a shot that shows a woman who happens to be breastfeeding, but to focus on it, to call attention to it, is just boorish.

  14. Dajanaye Rollins Avatar
    Dajanaye Rollins

    Smh I like to some of you defending use your same arguments when it’s an upskirt pic or of children.

  15. suruha Avatar

    When I was breastfeeding my three little ones, I put them on my breast in private, like in the ladies’ room, then, draped a baby blanket over all but bay’s face, and came out. I could walk around, sit and eat and no one even knew. Those that did had various reactions, some aghast, some cool. Either way, I was being discreet. To most, it just looked like I was holding my baby close.

  16. John Tunnicliffe Avatar
    John Tunnicliffe

    He was totally wrong, maybe not legally but certainly morally. Women deserve the right to appear in public without being hassled. Breastfeeding is not a sexual show nor is it for attention, it is to feed an infant. The photographer should have apologised and deleted the photo straight away (or even better not taking the photo in the first place.) Now because of his actions, yet another reason for the public to have less respect for photographers.

  17. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    1. photographer is a d##khead. Nuff said.
    2. I’ve been on enough public transit and in parks where mother breast feed. I have see some that seem to want to fount it as if to make a statement (whatever) and I have seen mothers that use a towel or cover to be more discreet. Two sides of a coin.