This article sparks outrage after calling street photography “gender-based violence”

Oct 22, 2020

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.

This article sparks outrage after calling street photography “gender-based violence”

Oct 22, 2020

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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An opinion piece in the NY Daily News recently caused quite a stir after referring to street photography as “gender-based violence.” The author shares her encounters with street photographers, two of which ended in her calling the police. She even proposes a law that would “protect women against all nonconsensual, exploitative photography and videography.” As you can imagine, her opinion wasn’t appreciated by street photographers or anyone who appreciates this photography genre.

The piece was written by Queens-based Jean Son. She describes three cases when street photographers aimed her lenses at her, both from afar and from up close. She called the police two times when she spotted photographers pointing their telephoto lenses at her. The third time, a photographer allegedly lifted his camera inches from her face. “It’s not illegal,” he said, according to Son. “It’s art. Get away from me.” The author admits that he deleted the photo he took and walked away.

“He’s right: It’s not illegal to take photos of people in public,” Son writes. “But women are victimized by this lack of legal protection of our images.” She cites several cases when charges were dismissed against men who were taking upskirt photos, adding that this kind of photography is a felony in New York. “But while it’s great that taking photos of specific body parts is considered a crime,” she continues, “any act of photographing someone in a degrading, violative way without her consent in public is wrong and the law should reflect that.”

“I have been working with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer on legislation convening an image privacy task force that will address photography as a vehicle of gender-based violence in public places. If this bill is passed, the next perp will have to think twice before assaulting another woman on our streets in the name of ‘art,’ or a ‘free country.’”

Judging from comments on Twitter, the article wasn’t received very well among many readers. There are a few things people pointed out as problematic, and honestly, I agree with most.

“There would be no Garry Winogrand, Bruce Gilden, Bill Cunningham, and a panoply of other great street photographers,” one user wrote. Indeed, if we made street photography illegal, wouldn’t that be unfair to all the amazing street photographers out there?

Another problem is in the language Son used. “Stop calling photography violence – you’re making a mockery of actual victims of violence,” another user pointed out. Indeed, when will people understand that photography is photography, it’s not terrorism or violence or anything that harsh?

“If it is to be banned, then why should it be exclusive to women?” asked another user. This is another potential problem. Even though women are more often subjects of creepy dudes with a camera, shouldn’t the law be equal for everyone? Not to mention that being a creep with a camera is not the same as being a street photographer.

Personally, I don’t see how this could be regulated. First of all, taking photos in public is legal and I don’t think it will change. I agree that we should all be protected from those creepers who take upskirt and other inappropriate photos. But like I said, these people are not street photographers. Also, most people who take photos for the sake of art won’t argue with you. If you don’t feel like being photographed, you can approach them and ask them nicely to delete your photo, without calling 911 or proposing a law. That’s at least how I deal with it, and I’ve never had a problem. But that’s just me.

What do you think of this piece? Do you think that the author is right or not?

[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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14 responses to “This article sparks outrage after calling street photography “gender-based violence””

  1. Lorenzo Morgoni Avatar
    Lorenzo Morgoni

    Well, in EU the behaviour of a street photographer who publish his photos should be now compliant with GDPR regulations. For example, if photographed person is clearly recognisable (close portrait, etc.), an explicit informed consent should be required for publication. On the other hand, for mass scenes or individuals portrayed in the distance/background, generally there’s no need for that. This is the main framework; but there are many cases in which it’s not easy to decide. Nevertheless, for personal archive of the pictures, no problem at all: taking photos remain legal, of course except for crimes like the ones mentioned in the article.

    1. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
      Jolyon Ralph

      Lorenzo Morgoni We’ll have access very soon to technology that will allow photographs of crowds, even individuals, to have faces replaced with generated faces of people that don’t really exist.

    2. Lorenzo Morgoni Avatar
      Lorenzo Morgoni

      Jolyon Ralph yes it’s further problem in fact. Photographer should always keep original image in digital negative format, for every reference.

    3. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
      Arthur_P_Dent

      Fortunately the United States still clings to the ideals of the Enlightenment. But Ms. Son would rather have us join the EU in going back to the Dark Ages.

    4. Matthias Avatar
      Matthias

      Oh really? Did you read that regulation? PDF is readily available in every EU language on the EU website. Read it, and you will see what you’re stating there is totally misguided. I can’t blame you, honestly, since most media fell in the same trap. The regulation is clearly and explicitly aiming at surveillance methods and building pictures databases to track people. It is very explicitly stating that it should NOT be used to impede artistic and journalistic liberties, and demands that state laws make this very clear.

  2. Вергунов Сергей Avatar
    Вергунов Сергей

    I used to practice ‘street photography’ in Soviet Union back in 1980-ies. Then any person with camera was considered a spy. In today America any person with camera is considered a sexual offender. US will follow Soviet Union.?

  3. Christopher R Field Avatar
    Christopher R Field

    Ugh. Edgelord “street photographers”. Boy I cant wait to see another overly processed photo of a homeless guy. No thanks. I find them obnoxious.

  4. Richie Vela Avatar
    Richie Vela

    Another girl OVER VALUING the price of the vagina…
    Public domain is for EVERYONE…photographers included
    Where this FRIGHTENED LITTLE RABBIT loses me is instead of making a viable point???
    She goes to the extreme and sights upskirt crap!!!
    GTFOH!
    So I definitely do NOT AGREE with her PARANOIA.
    That being said…
    Regardless of people’s right to take pictures in public…it’s NOT ok to be intrusive to the point that he or SHE is invading a person’s personal space…
    As a photographer that’s is where I draw the line…
    A Great Street Photographer is a invincible.

  5. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
    Arthur_P_Dent

    You should also mention the response from the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press. https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-photography-is-a-basic-right-20201019-o6jltewacrb2nbk5ycwe6yq4va-story.html

  6. Benson Stein Avatar
    Benson Stein

    What a *Karen.*

  7. Phill Holland Avatar
    Phill Holland

    Her message is a bit wibbly wobbly, she’s included a genuine concern about up-skirt photos and general exploitation and mixed it in to justify her own paranoia about men with cameras.

    This feels likes she’s being sexist, but maybe sexism only happens against women? Even though men with cameras are all violent perverts now.

    Every time one of those articles comes up, I feel the need to remind people about the abundance of CCTV cameras that are barely visible, operated by somebody you cannot see or know nothing about, who should scare you more, the man visibly holding a camera in the street, or the man secretly watching you in the dark room?

  8. No Image, No Name Given Avatar
    No Image, No Name Given

    It someone objects to you taking a photo of them delete it regardless if you “have the right” or not. For those that don’t object shoot to your hearts content their image. Someday the person that refused may regret their approach and demeanor towards life ….or not; doesn’t really matter but something for them to consider. In the meantime problem solved. People make mountains out of molehills.

  9. Bil Brown Avatar
    Bil Brown

    A CREEPER WITH A CAMERA IS A CREEPER WITH A CAMERA, a photographer is a photographer. This is an age old issue, and a concern of privacy for those involved. IT should NOT be a felony to take a photo of anyone in a public space. This has a great deal to do with things that are absolutely essential to the adequate images needed to push culture forward. This is also an issue of self-expression, as well as self-preservation of culture in general. If a CCTV cam can take photos of you and track your every-move, then an individual with a camera on the street should be able to do the same. I personally try to hide the identities of most people when I am shooting the street, like the infamous street photographer Daido Moriyama I feel as though this is a sort of honorable way. But to legislate it? How can YOU PROVE someone has ill intent? Also, this could be used to stop filming important events such as protest or police violence. No. Sorry. Not gonna happen.