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Dear friend,

A basic idea:

Let us feel no guilt in street photography.

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Why feel guilt?

Eric Kim Photography OSAKA - v10 - Lumix LX100-8590478

Guilt are social rules which are super-imposed on us by others. Shame is an internal ethical framework which we impose upon ourselves.

In short words:

Guilt is bad, shame is good.

This means:

1. Don’t feel guilty shooting street photography:

Eric Kim Photography OSAKA - v10 - Lumix LX100-8590186

This is others telling you that shooting street photography is ‘bad’, ‘evil’, or ‘unethical’.

2. Don’t shoot what makes you feel shame:

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Shame is your own internal code of ethics for yourself. In simple words:

Don’t do unto others as you don’t want others to do unto yourself (silver rule of ethics).


Taking photos of strangers without their permission isn’t that big of a deal

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To me, it makes no sense that others feel so indignant when you photograph them (without their permission).

If we really think about this:

Nobody has the inherent right to their own “image”.

What is an “image” anyways? It is light being reflected off the physical atoms and molecules in your physical body. Nobody has a “right” to control that — this makes no sense.

No physical laws.

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Furthermore, let us recognize that there are no physical laws that inherently dictate that we have an “unalienable right” to our own image.

I personally believe that we don’t have a right to our own image.

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For example, a lot of people who I photograph candidly (without permission), will get angry and yell at me, and ask me:

“How would you feel if someone photographed you without permission?”

I would feel fine with it.

I like it when people photograph me. For example in this episode of DIGITAL REV with Kai, I dressed up in a pirate outfit, and was photographed by all these tourists. I loved the attention!

Eric Kim Boston Photography-11

Now, others might make the case:

Not everyone wants to be photographed.

This is a true statement. But ask yourself:

Knowing that there are some people out there who don’t want to be photographed, do you feel ethically okay photographing them anyways?

There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer here. You must determine this for yourself.


I can sleep at night

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Don’t let others super-impose their code of ethics upon you. There are no ultimate code of ethics which apply to everyone. There is no such thing as ‘universally truthful morals/ethics’. All ethics and morals are man-made, and if you study history (ancient Greece, ancient India, ancient China)– you will discover that certain christian moralities we believe in (don’t harm others) are quite modern.

Eric Kim Photography OSAKA - v10 - Lumix LX100-8600137


Do you like to be photographed?

Eric kim black and white film photography Trix 1600 2015 Europe -027

Ask yourself:

Do I like being photographed by others?

If you don’t like being photographed by others, you won’t feel comfortable photographing others.

Why? Because you will make the (wrong) assumption that nobody else likes to be photographed (because you are using your own personal code of ethics, and applying this to others).

Eric kim black and white film photography Trix 1600 2015 Europe -073

However not everyone else thinks the way we think.

This means,

Recognize the fact that there are some people out there who actually like to be photographed!

However, you will never know whether others like being photographed or not until you try!


Greater good

This is my thought:

As a street photographer, you are making photos for the greater good.

Thus,

It is legitimate to (mildly annoy) a stranger — in order to make a beautiful photograph that will do a net-positive to society.


No guilt.

If you feel guilty shooting street photography, ask yourself:

Why do I feel guilty for shooting street photography? Is this something that I’ve been taught by society? If so, who taught me that it was “morally wrong/evil” to photograph others without their permission?

SHOOT BOLD.
ERIC

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