Real Estate Photography by Michael Kojoori

 Commercial and residential real estate photography, serving the Clark county Las Vegas Nevada region.   

Filtering by Tag: photography ethics

Photographic rights in the public space

Photographic rights in the public space


               I think that this subject is deceptively complex, but can be approached rationally. I think that the issue makes a great deal of sense, from a historical context.  I’m not going to site specific historical events, but I will allude to broad historical movements.  

               I think there is a general consensus, which suggests that our society has struggled with the idea of privacy.  This assertion for autonomy is deeply imbedded in the United States.  We live in a dichotomy, and straddle a line between government oversight and personal space. And this problem has yet to be reconciled.  Consider the recent events involving Edward Snowden.  Our fear of misuse of personal information permeates our lives.  Is it justified?  Perhaps, but I’m not in a position to make any dogmatic claims.

               I speculate that our society is suffering from privacy PTSD. We have a kneejerk reaction to any documentation that could negatively impact our lives.  This makes sense, in an age where economies use complex profiling systems to strategically target specific demographics; governments monitor its citizens and private parties use personal data with malicious intent.

               Given that individuals believe that they are entitled to a specific treatment in the public space, they react to volatility, when they observe a transgression of a (misunderstood pact).  I think that these individuals are analogous to (Trolls) of the internet space. Trolls sow seeds of discord by uncritically attacking ideas or peoples, with the pure intent of malice.

                 I’d like to propose that this type of behavior is not justifiable (at least within the public space).  I base this claim on the fact, that the public space is a shared one, and is navigated through the social contract of “Good Faith”.   When we become a part of an institution, we are implicitly agreeing to adopt its ideologies, for better or worse.   It would be ignorant of us as a citizen, to think that a society should and will conform to our beliefs’ and values. In fact, it borders on solipsism.  I’m afraid to say, but I think that a large part of our society functions on such a level. 

                              I believe that if we allow individuals to behave in these ways, they will set precedents on what society deems acceptable.  If unchecked, they will continue to erode the boundaries of the public space.  As a citizen of a society, it is our duty to adopt the code of conduct of the region.  As a society, we share the responsibility of matriculating immigrants into our culture.


               Years ago, I was on a pier and I photographed a bearded man, while he was fishing. He reacted violently to my photographic endeavor.  He swung his fishing pole, towards my face with Hook, line and sinker.  It whizzed by me at an uncomfortably close distance. I could have been seriously injured, all because of a digital representation of another person, in a public space. Because I found him to be a foreigner, I forgave his reaction and did not escalate the situation. But I find this to be unacceptable behavior.  When we enter the public space, we forfeit some of our rights, by virtue of being in a self-evidently observable state.

                               In closing, I think that photographers must take up and assert their rights to photography in the public space.  If we do not, the future will show a (visually documented) gap in our history.