Photographing strangers and posting the pictures to a public forum is creepy. Even if the picture is beautifully framed, wonderfully lit, and visually stimulating, unless the person has agreed to be photographed you’re crossing a line. Instagram has made this type of photography wildly popular and more accepted than ever. Many of my closest friends and relatives do this. Subway pictures of strangers, people waiting for a train, people crossing a street, eating food – I get it. The landscape of NYC littered with its citizens makes for compelling photographs. This is the sum + substance of why people watching here is so satisfying. But I don’t agree with the notion that just because it’s possible and popular, it’s ok to voyeuristically post pictures of strangers.
If I caught a stranger taking a picture of me, for whatever noble and artistic reason, it would bug me. Particularly if they were being sneaky about it. More so if they were taking a picture of any of my children. Honestly, that would freak me out. It’s just invasive, and that is the truth.
I think there are some exceptions. Vague pictures, not specifically showing faces but instead more of a landscape. Performers, who presumably are putting themselves out into the world to be watched. Maybe even police officers or other public figures on duty. Anyone who is not having a private moment. But the rest of us are just going from A to B, without trying to be on the stage of social media, maybe not feeling our best or looking our best or maybe we’re going through something or possibly feeling vulnerable or wearing something we thought looked great but actually looks awful.
But we have not agreed to be part of your artistic expression. By being in public, is it just implied that we consent? I don’t think so.
I’m seriously kind of shocked by how many people take and publicly post pictures of others. When did this become ok? How does it seem like a valid form of art? And if they have to do it covertly, doesn’t that just sort of negate any argument that it’s fine? In my experience, anything a person has to hide is usually kind of on dodgy ground.
I’d love to hear how others feel about this – particularly people who do it. Truthfully, I’ve done it before. I’ve seen a funny situation, photographed it, then posted it. But after seeing it done more and more, with people dancing a little too close to the line of invasive disregard, I’ve had to put the kibosh on my own involvement. It could be that I’m being ridiculous, though. What do you think?