Lucile BBQ family - madonna

Ethics in Street Photography

Family at Lucille’s BBQ.

How do you become an “ethical” Street Photographer, and is there even such a thing?

Conquer Your Fears and Meet New Peers

Don’t let anyone shove their code of ethics down your throat

Cindy with umbrella. Tokyo, 2017
Cindy with umbrella. Tokyo, 2017

First of all, Ethics is personal. Generally, most people follow the “golden rule” (do unto others as you want others to do unto you).

Also, we generally follow the “silver rule” in Ethics, which is the negative version — (don’t do unto others as you don’t like others doing unto you).

What is your personal code of ethics?

Woman with cell phone. Tokyo, 2017
Woman with cell phone. Tokyo, 2017

The first question you gotta ask yourself is,

Do I like having my own picture taken?

If not, you will have a hard time photographing others. Why? Because you assume everyone else doesn’t like having their picture taken (silver rule).

In reality, there are (vain) people like me who like having their picture taken. Therefore for myself personally, I have no ethical problems photographing strangers. Why? Because I don’t mind having my picture taken, I assume others don’t mind either. Now, this isn’t true, but it certainly helps me overcome any ethical qualms in street photography.

Ethical vs the Legal

Woman with umbrella in rain. Tokyo, 2017
Woman with umbrella in rain. Tokyo, 2017

Legally, you can shoot street photography in public.

Now, the bigger question is… ethically, how do you feel photographing strangers? In what situations would you not photograph a stranger?

My suggestion:

Follow your own heart in Ethics. Don’t let anyone super-impose their ethical beliefs on you.

For example, let’s say you want to photograph homeless people. As long as you have the right intentions, and feel ethically okay doing it, go for it. Realize, there will be other people who don’t like you photographing homeless people, because it violates their ethical code of beliefs.

Yet, once again… ignore all of the “haters”. They are trying to be Ethic tyrants— once again, forcing and super-imposing their ethics onto you. And I don’t think that is ethically okay. Nobody should force someone else to follow their ethical code of beliefs.

Trust Yourself.

To sum up,

Ethics in street photography is following your own heart, gut, intuition, soul, and code of beliefs.

You must build your own personal code of ethics, and please please please… don’t try to force anyone else to believe the way you do.

Also, ignore the ethics of others. Build your own moral street photography code.

BE STRONG and stay true to yourself.

Conquer Your Fears and Meet New Peers

Scroll to Top