This type of thing happens on a smaller scale to girls and women everyday. Just a few weeks ago, as my early-teen daughters and I stood outside of our house, a truckload of men driving stopped to hoot. One yelled, “Smile for the camera, ladies!” and snapped a picture as they drove away. But, woo-hoo, it got even better. Behind them in another car an older man stopped to scold my children for wearing bathing suits, beach cover ups and flip flops for the walk to the car from the front door. “You see! You see what you did? Put some clothes on!”
This post is worth a read for folks who are interested in photographers’ rights. It’s a bit of a rant (although certainly not an unjustified one), which places the sort of act described above (which — aside from the catcall — is not objectively very different from street photography) on the same spectrum as rape, nude paparazzi shots, and illicit surveillance.
It puts me a bit in mind of some sloganeering I’ve seen around gun control, something to the effect of “Your right to bear arms doesn’t trump my right not to get shot.” I think in photography there is a related collision between the right to photograph and the right to privacy (i.e., the right not to be photographed) — which leads to very different conflicts depending who or what is on which side of the equation. (E.g., the police, homeless people, businesses, government installations, men, women, children.)
Like many photographers, I feel it’s important to emphasize the right of everyone to photograph in public — the right to document is hugely and increasingly important and increasingly under fire from (usually) authoritarian interests. But it’s also important to think and talk about the ethical and moral implications of how people use their cameras and what kinds of enjoyment they derive from photographs.