Consent is one of those words whose true meaning and weight is quickly being eroded. On an average day, we’re asked to provide our consent in one way or another maybe dozens of times, to access websites, to use services, and to be surveilled. Consent is a concept that reaches all the way from a website's cookies to ownership of our own bodies and image.

In a world of heightened awareness around personal privacy, and a chilling of attitude toward those who ask for personal information, how is photography (in particular, street photography) affected?

For many years I have comforted other photographers with the clarity of the UK’s privacy laws when it comes to photo consent, which gives over a generous share of rights to your appearance to any keen street snapper. It’s common practice to carry a piece of paper with a title like “Photographer’s Rights”, to wave in the face of anybody who may be less educated on the matter. In a lot of ways, street photography is a medium which has depended on a kind of entitlement to, and legal ownership of, little snapshots of others’ lives - an entitlement possibly unchecked because of demographics (historically, street photography is a white, male pursuit).

In a world where more and more people are stopping to ask, “are you using my information responsibly?”, what could the implications be for photographers?

Posted
AuthorThomas Riggs