People are much more suspicious today about having their photo taken in public, and police have clamped down on photographers in the name of terrorism and keeping society safe.
It was, I must admit, rather refreshing to visit the Street Photography exhibition at the Museum of London, in the City of London. The exhibition features over 200 photos from the 1860s to today and examines the relationship between photographers, London’s streets, Londoners and how the anti-terror and privacy laws have affected the place of photography today.
I started off in my early photographic career in photojournalism and street photography. It was something I really enjoyed doing, but found increasingly difficult, even before the anti-terror and stricter privacy laws came into place.
Although I found much to photograph on London’s streets, as well as Ottawa’s, I found that people were increasingly suspicious as to my motives, and often thought I was with a mainstream newspaper or publication. Much of my photography was personal, and trying to capture the social history at a particular time.
The death of Princess Diana had much to do with the public’s suspicion of photographers, and many, if not all, street photographers were branded paparazzi. I feel this is somewhat unjust as many photographers weren’t.
Not surprisingly, my photography became much more architecturally based, and the street photography fell by the way-side. However, after seeing the exhibition at the London Museum, I am wondering whether to do more street photography, particularly with my film camera. The reason is I have found people often become interested in the camera you are using if it’s not digital.
If we stop photographing ourselves, the documentation of our history will be terribly affected.