Consider This Before You Take a Photo of a Homeless Person

The ethics of street photography are widely debated, and for some, have become a little tired.

One of the oldest, most common discussions is whether or not we should take photos of homeless people. The topic came up at a previous year’s Street London event. Some say yes, it’s all fair game. Others suggest it’s taking advantage of a person at their lowest point. Personally speaking, I no longer take images of homeless people. I see no purpose to it. When we start to make our work ‘socially aware’ we need to be sure we are making a difference with it. The truth is that a photo of a homeless person won’t change the world, nor should it be used to show how connected you are to societal issues.

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Why I Stopped Caring About Technical Precision in my Personal Work

julius motal the phoblographer technical precision

I’ve spent too much time taking technically sound images. By that, I mean images that have all the right elements: exposure, focus, composition, depth of field. When I discovered what bokeh was way back when, I had to get a lens that was an f1.something. The colors would pop, the composition was decent, there was a clear subject. They had all the trappings of aesthetically pleasing photographs, but they were artistically and emotionally bankrupt. I was dead set on making images that ticked off boxes that only the camera could tick off.

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Keira Knightley on Film Photographers vs Digital Photographers

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (6 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

Keira Knightley recently did an interview and shoot with Interview Magazine (Some images NSFW) where she talked about the difference between film photographers and digital photographers. Ms. Knightley states:

“I’ve noticed that the people who started on film still have the ability to see the person in front of them. Whereas for a lot of photographers who have only ever worked in digital, the relationship between the photographer and the person who they’re taking a picture of sort of doesn’t exist anymore. They’re looking at a computer screen as opposed to the person.”

While it’s quite the subjective thing to say, it can be argued that it’s very true in many respects. And even if it isn’t Keira is pointing out a very power statement: that you should treat your portrait subjects like people and remember that they’re not just a canvas for people to look and work with. Interaction is very important.

Thanks for the tip Mike!

BTW: sorry for the NSFW link, but the quote is way too genius. Especially given our current Facebook page hack. But the quote and interview featuring Keira Knightley on Film Photographers is well worth the read when you get the chance.