Photography In Public Spaces
Crackin’ talk by Philip Wolmuth and John Gladdy hosted by John Phillips at the London Print Studio. These guys are steeped in London and steeped in photography, capturing images documenting London’s character and characters for decades – and yet they generously nourished us with their time, insight and wisdom on the issues facing photographers today.
What with the Met police forever threatening snappers with the Terrorism Act (wrongly!) to get them to move on and not record what’s going on, and the public assuming everyone with a camera is a paedo, you wonder that anyone takes a pic at all!
But we do. We take millions and millions each day, be they work of art or frivolous selfie, each capturing a little bit of the soul of life around us and trapping it for all time in 0’s and 1’s as a record of what was.
Spare a thought for the woman who, enjoying a photographic course, took pictures of her children (fully clothed,happy, smiling, normal) only to be reported to the police as a paedophile by one of her fellow students. So what?
The poor lady nearly lost custody of her kids. For no reason at all. Except of course for a fervent paranoia fanned perhaps by the media that anyone, everyone could be a paedophile.
Yep – even you.
Even though you’re not.
A recent case has led to attempts to ban taking a photo if it has a child anywhere in it at all. Add this to the efforts of the French and Germans to ban photos of buildings (because architectects own the copyright in them) and you won’t be able to film anything.
But what about cctv – constantly funneling hours and hours of pictures of our children, buildings and everything else to the selective and watchful eye of a seated unseen observer. Let’s be honest – what sort of person wants to watch cctv all day? Call that ‘normal’?
Someone passionately compared the unauthorised taking of a picture of a woman in a public place to being akin to physically groping her. (Yep I know – but it’s how standard deviation works). Our wise panelists thought otherwise. They thought it was taking a picture.
Anyway, the rather sad wisdom seemed to be, the police will accuse snappers of offences under terrorism legislation as leverage to stop photos being taken, and the public will accuse you of being a nonce for the same purpose. And the result is a wave of unspoken self censorship inevitably occluding the vision of our next Cartier-Bresson, Joss Sturgess, Sally Mann or Brassai.
Oh sod it – just go and take a photo. That’ll show ‘em.
Or show it to us.
Ah ha! I can feel a competition coming on!