September 20, 2009


This is actually something I have been thinking about a lot. How to deal with privacy as a photographer, as a blogger. As you might have noticed, you'll hardly ever see pictures of people here or in my photostream on Flickr. In my early blogging days I did post some pictures of my girls. I even had a family picture up in my profile. But at some point, as I didn't feel entirely comfortable about it, I took down those posts and changed my profile picture as well. I don't even use the full names of my loved ones for the same reason. The result is a little bit of a "sterile" blog, I sometimes have the feeling. 'Where are the real people?', you might have wondered. (Note: It's only recently I gave myself a face again on this blog.)

The same thing happens when I wander through town with my camera. I'll never take pictures of strangers, worried they might get upset when they notice they just got their picture taken. In some situations people in the picture are unavoidable, but even then I try to make them "invisible" by choosing a different angle or a different lighting or by waiting until they're gone. At stores or museums, I'll always ask for permission to shoot pictures first (well, I actually forgot to ask or check once ...). If I get a "no", then it's a no... The last thing I want is someone ranting at me or, even worse, my camera taken away.

How do you deal with these privacy issues? Should one tell a stranger they just got photographed? How about posting pictures of loved ones?

I'd like to know how you deal with this ...


Jacqui said...

That is such a hard question and one I think I haven't solved to my satisfaction yet. I put pictures of my daughter up and I use her name but I'm not always happy when my imagination runs riot on what repercussions there might be. On the other hand my logical mind can't think of any really, except the really far out ones. I put my name up, my face (once), not my husband's, no pictures of other kids although I would if I'd asked the parent's permission I suppose. I did start my blog intending not to put up pictures of my daughter, but I just couldn't not share them! The things I do worry about are more the fact my last name is accessible and therefore I suppose my address if you wanted to put the effort in, and my email. I think photographing strangers in public is technically ok, certainly legally it is, but I'm too shy! Unless they're just there by accident. I think I'd post them, if they weren't the focus of the photo. I don't know, it's a murky ethical area for sure!

Kelly O. said...

I also have a pretty "sterile" blog.
I have trouble with it sometimes but safety and privacy is something my family and friends value. I have shown photos of my children as newborns or from behind but that's about it. My father has passed away and my blog is dedicated to him so his are really the only photos aside from ones of me. and who am I kidding--how often am I in front of the camera instead of behind it? Never.

Andrea, the collector said...

I have posted pictures of family and friends...part of the audience of my blog, but I try to never use their names. It's such a tricky thing, knowing how much to share is such a public place. I have gained a few good friends through the intimacy of writing and connecting via our blogs, so I find myself wanting to share honestly about my life, but EVERYONE can access this. Blogging is about connecting and sharing, but our lives also need privacy and protection in ways.

I wouldn't consider your blog "sterile". There's a lot of beauty and creation, both dynamic things. You don't need kid pictures to connect about creativity and life experiences, but I understand the conflict. It feels at time like blogging is a dance between revealing and hiding. I think there may always be a bit of conflict on how and how much to share unless you are COMPLETELY open or posting COMPLETELY anonymously...and then you'd be concerned about protecting your identity! Sigh.

virginia said...

I also limit personal information, and rarely post photos of people.

I hesitated to include my son, but he's older and has a public blog, so I will feature one of his images (art work) on occasion.

I love your new look, and photos. It's not sterile, and I like your minimalist approach to object and accessory design. I may admire the layered, bohemian look, but your look is closer to my personal style.

For an opposite sensibility, check out "elsita", in my blog list...and this Dutch photographer, who captures grayness beautifully:

I will eventually re-configure my blog, and "borrow" what you have learned about HTML!

cindy said...

i'm concerned with safety and previously worked in an information security firm. i try to limit photos of ourselves (especially my husband) and too much specific information about ourselves, i.e. exact birthdays, etc. it's hard though because i also want to protect my work with a full copyright and have to put my name out there. i've also been interviewed a couple of times.

as far as taking photos of other people, i usually don't. i'm really shy and would rather not have to get into a discussion. sometimes, a person will find their way into one of my photos and i either won't use it or will crop them out. usually, there might be someone from the side or back like you described. i have the most beautiful photo of this little boy at the zoo, but i feel funny using it.

it's a tough balance, but sometimes i guess we have to come out from behind the curtain to make it more personal and risk being found out by the 'blogarazzi' ;). i think the photo of your daughter is lovely and very discreet.

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