Street Photography is not Voyeurism

I can sense the discomfort when I talk about street photography. Not my own, but of the other person on finding that it means taking pictures of people in public spaces. I’ve never received a coherent explanation for their unease, just the slightly wary, discomfited look to their eye, the muttered statement that they wouldn’t feel comfortable with it. Perhaps my too-simple description conjures the image of a photographer who concentrates his interest on a particular individual, and their particular actions, to the exclusion of all else. Perhaps there is a sense of distance, of judgment . . . of photographer as voyeur. But street photography is not voyeurism. The intent is not to pry into one’s personal life – no 1/60th of a second can reveal the totality of you. And it’s certainly not to do so from a distance, surreptitiously . . .

• • •