USA. Queens, New York. 2005. Fashion shoot. Mafia funeral.

I saw that blond young German gal in the street of Freiburg. Her red in white polka-dot dress made her stand out of the crowd. She was sitting with her friend on the asphalt leaning on the wall – together with many other city-dwellers and tourists on a warm spring afternoon. As I passed by her with my camera in the hands facing the crowd she jumped up and attacked me quite aggressively. I was not prepared, and, what is more, it was the first time I was attacked in the street for making a picture. She said that I should delete her picture immediately, and her pretty face turned  evil mask. I felt self-righteous and said I took no picture of her, and showed the last taken pictures. Which was true. But the real truth was that I did intend to take one: I hold my camera to focus on her and for the first time in my life I pressed an “off” button instead of releasing the shutter…. Funny as it was it saved me a scandal. But made me think.
I do not understand her.
Why a nice-looking girl is against of her picture being taken?
In contrast, when I was in Romania taking pictures around Bran castle, next to me there were very your girls aged 11-12. They stood to each other and as I turned to them to make a picture they froze for better effect. They stood still, smiling, and as I finished I heard “thank you”….
They enjoyed the attention that was given to them.
I understand them.
I also understand alternative-looking African (and not only) Americans who are against being photographed – many of them are illegal in the country or connected with the drug-scene or other petty crime, so they naturally avoid to be pictured.
I do not exclude that a red polka-dot dressed girl was living illegally in Freiburg but somehow I think it was not about it.
People grow extremely obsessive about their privacy.
Now, let see what it means.
I think people are private in their houses, hotel rooms, etc. or when naked. I have not trespassed any of these.

The law in most countries prescribes a photographer to have consent from the person he or she photographs. But it is also common among street photographer go around it – there is simply no time to ask each persons’ you meet in the street for permission plus the photo is not natural anymore. But I my intention is not to discuss the law and the RIGHTS but the attitude. So I am addressing to the people who have already behaved aggressively towards photographers in the streets and demanded their photo to be deleted.

Surely you have the right to do it but what is it exactly that you are you scared of? That the picture will be published in a magazine and someone will recognised you in the street? Too many seek such fame, so don’t think it may happen so easily. The chances that your photo will be captured by a famous and high-profile photographer is pretty slim: most likely very few people will see it, so there is no danger your face becomes famous. If it happens anyway, consider to be lucky: if not a photo magazine, a photo of you may end up in a timeless collection, which will make a lot of photographers around the world to admire.
If you want just to be asked a consent, don’t forget the spontaneity effect will be ruined for photographer – that is what is most needed.
If you meet me in the streets, you wont feel robbed – I will always give you a smile back.

The choice is yours.

Mafia funeral. © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos.