Archive for June, 2013

Street Photography and Moral Codes, is a new on-line exhibition curated by Peter Fahrni from the Forward Thinking Museum that tries to examine the moral code in street photography.

The practice of observing and photographing people in candid situations is a direct expression of human curiosity. A street photographer recognizes in a split second the visual potential of any number of human interactions, individual expressions, and patterns occurring in a public space and typically attempts to keep a decisive moment undisturbed by not alerting the subject. One approach is to stay as low key as possible, for instance by pretending to aim the camera at something other than the intended individual. A more aggressive approach may involve a sudden move towards a subject, perhaps with a handheld flash. Here, the singled out passerby usually does become aware, but by that time the shutter has already been released.

Photographing without the subject’s knowledge lays at the crux of potential ethical conflicts – without knowledge there cannot be consent. On the other hand, the absence of consent does not imply unethical behavior. Moral codes come into play for all parties involved: the photographer, who is looking to exercise her artistic freedom while safeguarding an individual’s dignity – the subject, who might ask for the deletion of his image, realizing he has no say in the creation or distribution of the photograph – and the public, who demands both access to street photography (in form of entertainment, news, or art), and to be shielded from excesses. A group not supposed to be guided by moral considerations is law enforcement. However, an officer called to the scene of a dispute may or may not be knowledgeable about the law he is supposed to enforce. The ensuing vacuum is likely filled with the official’s own moral code.

In this exhibit, each of the twelve featured artist shares in a brief essay some of the moral considerations that can come into play at any time. It is helpful to come forth from behind the camera at times to engage with a subject. A smile and some information about the nature and intention of a photographer’s work go a long way to ease tensions. As the legality of picture taking in public spaces continues to be challenged and cultural norms at home and abroad shift in unpredictable ways, a street photographer’s artistry has evolved to include advanced social skills.

The images in this show are as singular as the voices in the introductions. To some extent, this can be attributed to various cameras, including mobile phones, etc, but what accounts most for the individuality of each photographer’s style comes down to a highly personal way of connecting to people in a given space – a readiness to potentially consider everybody and everything worth taking note of. The viewer, in turn, is enriched with stunning images and a friendly nudge to take another look at what’s easily taken for granted.

– Peter Fahrni – Director, Forward Thinking Museum

 

© Street Photography by Sagi Kortler

© Street Photography by Sagi Kortler