Is street photography creepy?

Street Photography is done in the streets, and necessitates making pictures of strangers going on about their daily lives. That might give some the heebie-jeebies but is it really that creepy? Let's answer this…

So..Is street photography creepy?

Street photography is not creepy because it CANNOT be creepy. Why? Because it's an action, in the same way that “looking” and “touching” are simply actions. But you betcha street photographers can be creepy. Here's some examples:

  • There is a kid inside a car, and a street photographer approaches and takes a picture of the kid, the lens protruding inside the window. That is totally creepy in my book. 
  • I knew someone who stalked their subject from the mall and followed them around in order to get the shot. Creepaholic.
  • I know someone who gets uncomfortably close to their subjects' personal space and shoves their camera in their subjects' faces. Creeptastic.

A knife cannot hurt you, only people who wield knives can. Street Photography by itself is NOT creepy, but it’s street photographers that can make it creepy, all under the misguided mantra “get closer”. Newsflash: Getting close doth not equate a successful image.

Culture differences & Creepiness

If your image is crappy, getting closer will make only make a crappy image bigger. There is also another aspect of this, and it has nothing to do with the photographer: Depending on what country you are in, having a camera is de-facto seen as suspicious. Look at this image:

Osaka street photograph with a woman looking suspiciously
That woman think it's creepy

I didn't even care about the woman looking suspiciously. I was focused on the arms, the arms of the runner in the background, the arms behind the woman, and the arms of the guy with the phone on the right. But she looked at me so intently that I just had to shoot it as-is. I'm paraphrasing a photography quote, I am not going to say no to a gift handed to me!

The reason why she was suspicious if because I was in Japan. In Japan and Korea, there's lots of perverts and it's a real problem there. Especially in subways and trains. With that fact in mind, it's easy to understand her reaction.

Street Photography: Creepy or not? Conclusion

So yes, street photography is creepy because immature, disrespectful, misguided shooters make it so. It's also creepy depending on the country. But for the rest of us? It’s an art. And we respect our subjects as all half descent human beings should.

If you are reading this, you are interested in street photography, right? Make sure to check out my street photography course, magazine and presets, all designed for street photography.

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