I'm part way through watching Master Photographer on Sky Arts in the UK, an excellent programme pitting 12 photographers against each other to find the ultimate photographer. But one thing has really riled me. It comes in the discipline of Street Photography, and it is a lack of respect in photography. I'm not a street photographer. Let's just clear that up. And this isn't an attack on street photography. That is just one example I shall be using to demonstrate my point about respect in photography.
A certain attitude
Amongst some photographers (including the judges) there was an attitude of "Whatever it takes, get the shot". While in the realms of self-sacrifice I might agree, that isn't what they meant. Repeatedly, people were photographing other people even when asked not to. Indeed, they were acting like paparazzi. In one episode, a photographer was chasing a group of nuns, after being asked by one of them not to, to get a great shot. He obviously hadn't seen Sister Act!
I fully expected the judges to berate the man for his lack of respect, but instead, he was applauded. Indeed, one guest judge stated that his own style was almost to jump out at people to capture a look of surprise on their faces.
I can't wrap my head around this. I realise the law is on the side of the photographer (so long as you are in a public place), but surely as photographers, we can respect fellow people.
Other contestants were opposite. One bought a homeless person a meal in exchange for taking photographs. Others engaged in conversation, building up a rapport with the person they wished to photograph. This produced much better photographs in my book.
Respect in Photography - Land Rights
I've recently been on holiday to Dorset in the UK and went to photograph a place called Durdle Door - part of the Jurassic Coastline on the South Coast of England. A most beautiful place and well worth a visit. However, there were several signs us saying that while photography was permitted, the selling of any reproduction of the area was forbidden. That included sketches, paintings, photographs or anything else you could think of. At first, it got my back up a little. I was on a public footpath and had every right to do with those photographs what I wanted.
Then I thought about the concept of respect that had offended me with the street photography. Wasn't this the same thing - the area is owned by The Lulworth Estate who do not charge for people to enjoy this beauty (though they could). However, they don't want people using it for commercial gain.
A quick search through Google and you can find hundreds of photographers selling photographs of the area - but I won't. I have been in touch with the Lulworth estate, and they feel that if others are making financial gain from their land, they should have a part of that gain - the alternative is an entrance fee to the area, which they don't want to do.
So out of respect for them, and for the land, I won't be selling any of these images. I wish I could, but in my view, we need more respect in photography. So enjoy these images - of a most beautiful place in England.
Fantasy Inspired Interpretation
This piece of art was inspired by my trip to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door - a fantasy interpretation utilising a variety of digital art techniques.