There is a topic I have been wanting to write about for a long time. It is, in my view, as important as the orphan work legislation that is still, by the way, a living, breathing potential threat, democrats or no democrats.
The French Government, ruling in favor of the elite class (France class system is very strong and visible in everyday life), passed a law regarding privacy and the limitation of photography. Hidden behind this law was the need of celebrities and royals to be protected from the legions of paparazzi that seem to bother so many people.
on a side note : While everyone seems to complain about them, they are one of the richest branch of photography and I dare any photographer that believe there work is easy and crappy to spend a week doing what they do.
Anyway, The Prince of Monaco walked into the office of “Jack” Chirac one day and said, “this has to stop”. And it did. For those who are not aware, and think the only thing you cannot photograph in France is the Eiffel Tower at night, here is a brief description explained by pro photographers: Lightstalkers
This has made life unbearable for existing editorial photographers that have to have their images badly altered in order to get them published. It has taken all a huge toll on creativity and is slowly killing photography. Photography is about life and the human condition. If you take out the human, their expressions, out the picture, you practically loose everything. Not much a US photographer has to worry about since in this country, we are “protected: by the first amendment. At least for now.
But a whole tradition of candid photography is being slaughtered right before our eyes and no one is actively reacting. why is that ? Why is it that the international communality of photographers do not rise together in show of compassion and revolt ? I guess photography knows and respect boundaries and as long as it does not happen in their own little back yard, it doesn’t exist. So let’s worry about Microstock and Orphan work, two very American trends and ignore the most important threats for the outside world.
It will come into our backyard one day as we tolerate more government invasion and “protect” ourselves from the preying eyes of fellow photographers.
In a digital age, where images taken on one side of the globe can be delivered to the other sides in matters of seconds, where images travel at the speed of sound, sometimes of light, our interest in other photography world has instead taken a turn for seclusion and self-worry.
But this is where the future of photography stands. In what is legislated in other parts of the world. Photography, photo agencies were invented in France. It is part of the cultural landscape and a second language to its population. Features, unlike in the US, are a large part of what people “read” in magazines. They read images as much as they read articles.
It would be, or rather, it is a big mistake to think that this will not affect the US. Or other parts of the world. Magazines, newspapers, websites are being pushed to use RF or Commercial Stock images to illustrate news because they have paid models in it. Is that what we want to see ?
PS: here is a good example of how the media bundles photography and privacy laws : MSNBC.
and here is some of the damaging results : RAPHO