Street photography and privacy

Hello everyone,

At work I only take photographs of plant diseases but today, for a change, in Turin downtown, I took a “street photography” with my smartphone.

There were plenty of people involved and I am now wondering what I should do in case I need to publish similar images in the future (it is quite unlikely for me but you never know…)

I am already aware I should always ask the permission before taking a picture to someone for privacy matters but what about having dozens of people involved such as in this picture of mine?

Quite often you don’t have much time because you are in a hurry to have the picture taken and all people involved in the scene are quickly walking away :slight_smile:

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I’m starting to enjoy taking street shots.
I think each country has its own legistlation regarding privacy so you should probably do some research of your countries laws.
I didn’t so far :slightly_smiling_face:, but almost always I ask people before taking a shot. I find that part interesting, explaining to people that I am an “amateur photographer” and that I only share pictures, when I do, on specialized fora. Usually they are very receptive.
In my plans, still not accomplished, printing and giving back to them - when it applies.
As for crowd pictures… humm, never thought about that.

Hello @gadolf

I’m starting to enjoy taking street shots.

As of today, I have always taken pictures of plants and fungi.
They never complain about my results and I am blessed as a photographer because of this :slight_smile:

Joking aside, I do think smarphones are extremely apt for street photography since they do not capture the attention of the crowd (as far as the “privacy matters” are concerned etc).
Nowdays, their quality in terms of photography has progressed so much that is extremely easy to get good results with them even though you are not an accomplished photographer. On top of that, they have many more bonus such as GPS tagging, prompt backup (DropBox etc). Gosh, you can even save your pictures as Raw (Dng) :slight_smile:

Ciao @Silvio_Grosso,

Yes, it very much depends on what country you are in.
Set duckduckgo to work, and use the search phrase
street photography laws.

Apart from which: wouldn’t it be a great idea to make a playraw of the
clown photo above – making it a special quest to make the
soap bubbles more visible :slight_smile: ?

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

PS: I fully agree with you – plants, especially my favourites withered flowers, are much better motives. They never complain…

Yes I am very positive like others said it is based on what the countries laws are. I know in the USA where I live is that in public locations all photography is allowed even with people in it with no permission required. This is how the paparazzi can get away with what they do. People tend to not like it however but they can’t stop you here. I shoot landscape s though never tried street photography yet.

Hello @blj

I know in the USA where I live is that in public locations all photography is allowed even with people in it with no permission required.

In Italy the law is quite “blurred” about this topic, as it often occurs in our country…

What it looks pretty clear by reading some articles on-line is that it is better to avoid taking pictures of children since you must ask the permission to their parents.
Since my picture contains lot of children I might get in a lot of trouble by publishing it (e.g. in the Play Raw section of this forum). This is why I have blurred on purpose every face on this picture from the very beginning of this post.

To make it short, to avoid problems, is much better to stick to my usual line of work: which means only taking picture of plant diseases :slight_smile:

Yes I agree. Children are off limits here as well as far as I know unless permission is granted. I have seen some YouTube photographers in the US where they could not avoid the child but waited till they were turned around. Still quite worrysome having unknowing people in shots. I do agree with you and for sure stick to nature on my end.

Actually, the plants do not have to be sick!
Healthy ones can be interesting as well…

Hello @Claes

Unfortunately, due to my work, I only get plants diseased as subjects to shoot :slight_smile:
Luckilly, I can also take pictures of fungi, bacteria and insects causing these diseases and they are quite interesting to look at…

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Besides the law, I find there are two general camps: the timid and the bold. A more extreme member of the latter would take the shot regardless of the circumstances, even if the subject is in danger and could be rescued, or the photo could be exploited. The shot is all that matters. I am on the other end of the spectrum. Even if I take the shot, rarely does anyone else see it for one reason or another. And I only share the mundane and poor shots with you all. Well, the ones of Mr Shakes are okay because I want to share the good boy to the world. :smile:

I love to share my shots but not on any of the current platforms out there. Would be nice if there was a heavily CC friendly sharing site out there with a awesome community like this one. I do fall in the cautious camp as well. Even when I am doing landscapes in one of my favorite locations that can get very crowded depending on the day and weather I go out of my way to ensure no one ends up in the shot. All my shots seem poor in my eyes but I am still learning not only how to take a better shot but to edit my horrendous in camera mistakes :smile:

We discussed several times about starting another platform. I personally am most excited about pixelfed, but it doesn’t seem mature enough yet.

I’m open to any suggestions of social media software we could run.

great composition!

CC as in Creative Commons, or as in Constructive Criticism?

Hello @stefan.chirila

great composition!


At work, with our samples, I am forced to be quite picky about the composition stuff :slight_smile:

  • I shoot with my camera always mounted on a tripod. This really allows me to concentrate my efforts on the composition part;
  • At first, I have to choose the right background: usually it is black or white but sometimes also green for some macro-fungi.
  • When there are more samples in the picture they must be all “straight” and at the same distance one another.
  • The “strenght” of their shadows must be the same and it must not touch the other sample on its side.
  • Since there is a big lamp on my right, I use a panel with a silver coat to reduce the shadows of the samples on the very left and to increase the brightness of the left’s side of these samples;
  • I shoot with a low ISO (200) together with medium aperture to avoid difraction (usually F8) and, most of all, I am blessed with a full-frame camera (Nikon D700) and a macro lens to get good results…;
  • To top it all, since it is not a “street photography” I can repeat the shot over and over until I am very satisfied :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

BTW, as regards the composition of this street photography it was straightforward.

  • There was the clown on the left with very interesting colours (face, clothing);
  • The children on the very right, with their enthusiastic and smiling faces (which, unfortunately for the final result, I had to hide due to the privacy);
  • In the middle the place (Piazza San Carlo - Turin);
  • All over this image there are plenty of soap bubbles which make this picture a bit different and less cliché: the clown and the crowd are quite usual in the street portraits.
  • etc etc

What really always surprises me is the quality of the pictures taken with smartphone nowdays.
I am pretty sure my Nikon D700 takes better pictures, “on the whole”. However, over the years, the most advanced smartphones (Google Pixel 4 - Apple Iphone 11 - Huawei Pro 30 etc) are really catching up.
IMHO they are the perfect tools for the street photography. Just think at their big displays to check immediately the composition for instance; the fact that they are not cumbersome to carry and so on and so forth… :slight_smile:

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If you’re in Europe, you’re bound by the GDPR regarding privacy issues. This seems like a good read:

The consequences are, murky…

@elGordo CC as in Creative Commons. Constructive Criticism is always good as well.

@paperdigits Interesting. I have no clue about what web packages are out there that can do it. Will for sure keep my eyes open. Image social sites seem to be the rough end of web software something might have to be written if other packages can’t be adapted to it.

@Silvio_Grosso Thanks for giving your thought process behind the composition that is very useful knowledge to gain for me at least. I too am shocked by the quality of cell phone images. I have a Pixel 3a and the images are astounding even for I think it is a 12mp camera on there. It is amazing what computational photography can do. If some of that tech trickled into cameras it would be interesting. When I compare shots between my phone and camera it feels like sometimes the phone is able to auto exposure blend not sure what kind of foolery they are doing.

Hello @blj

I too am shocked by the quality of cell phone images.

Yep. No wonder the smartphones have wiped out the market of the compact cameras…

IMHO, With the right conditions (light, most of all), the best smartphones produce magnificent pictures nowdays.

I have a Pixel 3a and the images are astounding


I have been reading great reviews about the images of the Google Pixel 4 (XL) too. It has a smaller sensor compared to the Huawei Pro 30 (which even sports a Leica hardware) and less lens than the Galaxy Note 10. However, Google does have all the software knowledge to apply some magic tricks to their picutres :slight_smile: