In class this week, we were instructed to photograph someone using a mobile device in a public place and manage the ethics of the photography as we would like. As we had just recently grasped the idea that as a society, we understand the shift from private to public space in terms of access and control, this task served to allows us as students to explore the principles of public and private media practice firsthand.
We questioned whether mobile devices and the advancement of media technologies in communication, surveillance and marketing have changed the way be understand public spaces and developed an understanding of how we as users respond to the blurring line of publicity and privacy.
I myself am a very private person, while many individuals have their social media accounts set to public and allow strangers to follow and view their images, mine are set to private and I only allow those I know to follow me. In an effort to maintain privacy, I deleted Facebook for almost four years and only recently began using the platform again, limiting its use to keeping in touch with only family and close friends.
The Arts Law Center of Australia confirms that street photographers are allowed to take images of individuals in a public space without asking for permission as “there are no publicity or personality rights in Australia, and there is no right to privacy that protects a person’s image.” While the fact that everything is now recorded and photographed can be understood to be a positive development of technology as it allows us to both document our lives and also doubles as a means of surveillance, I feel it is both a good and bad thing.
When instructed with the task to photograph an individual, I decided to see what it would be like to do so without asking for permission, however, I will not be posting that image as I feel it would be unethical. I did this in order to reflect on the ethics of permission and discretion and photographed the individual from almost 10 meters away without his knowledge. I zoomed in and took the photo and while he didn’t realised what I was doing, his girlfriend look up at me suspiciously.
I didn’t feel comfortable doing so without permission and it’s scary to think that your photograph may be taken and used without your knowledge. I will not be doing so gain and I feel there should be greater safeguards in place that aid in restricting the ability to do so.