200 F2 VR A few candids !

Started Jul 30, 2007 | Discussions thread
larsbc Forum Pro • Posts: 17,273
Re: voyeurism

pierre1 wrote:

Why is it that if the subject that is taken by a telephoto lens
happens to be wholesome and lovely and her photo is taken in public
with good lighting, composition, in good taste and in a flattering
way that this offends some people.
If I had shown this example, no one would have commented in the same
degree about voyeurism.

Judging by some of the photos I've seen posted and labelled as "street photography," I think it is an misunderstood genre. It's tough to define so I'll fall back on this entry in Wikipedia.org:

"Street photography uses the techniques of straight photography in that it shows a pure vision of something, like holding up a mirror to society. This genre of photography is present in contemporary times and is usually done as black and white photographs. Street photography tends to be ironic and distanced from its subject matter and often concentrates on a single human moment, caught at a decisive or poignant moment. In the 20th century, street photographers have provided an exemplary and detailed record of street culture in Europe and North America."

If the photo fails to live up to the above definition, then I suppose it's natural for someone to assume that the photographer either failed at capturing a "street photo" shot, or his (or her) goal was something else (eg: paparazzi photo, voyeurism photo).

It's tough to see where the line is drawn in some cases, but you'd have to be pretty...disconnected...not to see how some people would see your images in a more negative light.

Basically, I think your question is like asking, "why do the Secret Service guys always tackle me when I run up to the president and try to hand him the chocolate handgun I made for him?" (A shameless reference to a Jack Handy piece) In short, people may suspect your motives because your photos are similar to those taken for less savoury reasons.

Candid telephoto shots are particularly vulnerable to this perception for a few reasons:

1) The photographer is seen as being sneaky and dishonest in his intentions.

2) The compositional tendency in a lot of tele shots is to crop out the environment and zoom right in on the person. This removes a lot of potential meaning from the image. You've effectively eliminated the environment and interaction which is so often a big part of successful street photography.

And this is going off on a tangent but...

Just thinking out loud here, but to me, it's reminiscent of the question about the merits of a photograph of a beautiful painting. If the photographer's actions add nothing to the image, and the image relies purely on the qualities of that painting, then can we say that the photograph has no merit?

larsbc

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