Rights and Respect in Photography

DIY Photography has an article that explores photographer’s rights and their sense of respect for their subjects.

The question of photographer’s rights is frequently a tricky issue as a travel photographer where local laws and customs are frequently unknown to you, but as this article mentions, erring on the side of being respectful is a good tactic. Unfortunately, sometimes you won’t always know the proper way to be respectful.

As an example, while shooting the morning precession in Luang Prabang, Laos, I watched a photographer break every rule for shooting the monks and their daily ritual. A little reading beforehand or talking to any of the enthusiastic novices in the area would have told this photographer what was acceptable behaviour and what was not. In fact, at most of the temples in the city, there are signs posted that list the guidelines for photography, so I truly don’t think this photographer could have even used ignorance as his excuse.

He’s an example of someone who probably knew the rules and chose not to exercise much respect. I’m more forgiving of those who err out of ignorance in such cases – it can be difficult to keep track of who wants to be treated how. But wherever you go, with the first English-speaking local you find, just ask about local attitudes towards photography and you’ll be well on your way to being able to treat others as they would have you treat them.

The point being that common sense is the foundation of the respect you may have for your subjects, but frequently, you may need to do some research to discover just what respect means for different people.

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