Street Photography yay or nay?

People love to take photographs of anything. Whether it be rare sights they’ve never seen before to a good looking piece of steak they’re having for lunch. People want to take a photograph to freeze that moment in time and look back on it another time. With the increased accessibility to cameras in this day and age, people take photos more than ever. Whether it be for recreational or work purposes, photos are taken every day.

This brings us to street photography. Photos are often posted online and shown to a wide variety of people and sometimes may include someone’s face. Of course, not everyone is okay with their face being so easily seen in a public space. In this day and age, having your face widely available to the public can be detrimental to your identity. That’s where the Street Photographer’s Rights come in.

As the name suggests, it covers what a Street Photographer is entitled to and what rules to follow when it comes to street photography. Interestingly enough as stated within the Street Photographer’s Rights:

“There are no publicity or personality rights in Australia, and there is no right to privacy that protects a person’s image. However a person’s image can constitute ‘personal information’ under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) with the consequence that there are circumstances in which businesses and agencies subject to that Act may breach the law by publishing a person’s image.” – Arts Law Center of Australia 2016

This leads to an interesting situation. Generally from personal experience, if the reason you provide is adequate then the person will gladly accept their photo being taken. However it is also possible for them to decline due to a person’s photograph being linked to personal information.

Me and a few of my colleagues were tasked with asking people to take a photo of them and seeing what their response was. All of them were fine with it. But my colleagues were asking a group of 3 or 4 people. I took it upon myself to take this photo:


The photo has quite a few people within the shot. Generally it’s common courtesy to ask someone before having their photo taken but here, there’s too many to ask. Considering the nature of the photo is not focusing on people’s faces, I figured I’d take the photo anyway. The few reasons why I took the photo without asking are:

  1. Main focus of the photo is not on people’s faces
  2. The people pictured are simply walking and no specific message can be seen from their actions
  3. I am a student within the university therefore I am allowed to take photos

In this case it was easy to determine whether or not a photo was allowed. Generally the Street Photographer’s Rights is common sense. No one wants their photo taken without their permission if they’re the sole person within the photo and they’re the focus. However in this situation with the focus not being on the people and various people being in the shot, it’s easy to determine that a photo was allowed. Just think about it for a second and it’ll be fine.


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