Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are photographers simply latent voyeurs ?

Admittedly the term 'voyeur' generally carries negative connotations. This is apparently due to its origins in clinical psychology where it was related to sexual practice, i.e spying on the intimate moments of others. However most people today would understand it to be more generally applied as observing others without their knowledge. Paparazzi could fall into both categories, however they are driven by an additional financial incentive.
"....Voyeurism (from the French voyeur, "one who looks") can take several forms, but its principal characteristic is that the voyeur does not normally relate directly with the subject of their interest, who is often unaware of being observed....." Wikipedia
Where should non professional photographers 'draw the line' ? Do zoom lenses provide a hedge for the contravening of personal privacy ? For me there is something a little spooky about someone capturing my image and using it for any purpose without my permission.I find it particularly offensive that the marginalised, such as homeless people are photographed without permission, irrespective of intent. The subject has lost identity and becomes merely an object. When published, it's akin to gaining notoriety at the expense of another's self respect. I myself prefer taking photographs of nature, deliriously 'people free', unless of course it's portraits or character studies and the subject is aware of being photographed. I was just down at the water's edge, near sunset, scouting for a 'reflection' possibility and felt I had to apologise to the fisherman standing nearby in case he thought I was photographing him. Perhaps I'm paranoid.

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