I’ve been playing around on Google+ lately and am a bit confused by all of the so-called “must follow” lists out there. In particular, I’m surprised to see Thomas Hawk’s name bandied about so often, when his actions seem to be detrimental to photography in general.
Perhaps it’s my poor memory, but it seems to me that I’ve only noticed his name in conjunction with attention-gathering activities: his recent criticism against Jay Maisel and pushing the boundaries of appropriate behavior at a museum in San Francisco come immediately to mind.
This seems to be a shame to me. It’s possible that he’s right on all accounts (for the record, I support Jay in the recent issue and have suspicions about Hawk’s personal behavior in the latter), but his manner of pushing back works to the detriment of all photographers.
I’m sure I’m not being terribly clear, so let’s go with a more generic scenario. It’s 100% legal to take a photograph of someone who is out in public. Take an attractive woman to a public beach in a bikini, for example, and have her strut around. If some photographer comes up and starts shooting away, there’s nothing that can legally be done about this. It’s not illegal for the photographer to make posing requests, either: “arch that back”, “let’s go for something sexier.”
It might be totally unwelcome and disturbing, but it’s not illegal.
So here’s the thing: if the attractive young lady’s boyfriend/husband/guardian/father (collectively or individually: the defender) comes along and stops you, who’s wrong? We know it’s not the photographer. If the confrontation gets physical, the defender will be looking at jail time. And yet, since the photographer was at the very least creepy, who is going to stand up for the photographer?
Only other (already biased) photographers, who the general public will generally ignore.
I believe that it’s this type of behavior that gives photographers a bad name. While perhaps being correct (legally), actions like this make it impossible to get support from the people around us – and that means we lose it when it’s critical for everyone.
Just a personal thought, I suppose.
- Photographers violating personal space is a bit of a personal issue, so I’m biased towards disliking people who act in such a manner, as did Mr. Hawk at SFMOMA.
- For the record, I like Mr. Hawk’s work. He is an excellent example of issues I have with photographers in general (some of them, at least).
- This entire article is an option. Duh.