Camera etiquette

I paid Crazy Glue Mechanic for this photo. 

As sailors who take our vessels to distant lands, we want to preserve our memories. But the rules about what is acceptable behaviour, especially behind a camera lens, are different in many places around the world. I have the belief that if in doubt, ask permission or don't take the picture.

In one place I visited, people believed that if you took their photo, they lost their spirit. Clearly taking their photo with or without permission was a no-no.

I took a picture of a sign in front of a house on an island once and a man came scurrying out asking for money for the photo I took. I gave him what he asked and went on my way. Another time I took a photo of a band playing on a street and the band leader got angry with me for not paying him or buying a CD. I don't have a CD player so it wouldn't have done me any good. I also felt that if they were taking up public street space, they are fair game for photos. If they're playing in a private venue, they have a right to ask not to be photographed.

I remember wanting to take a photo of a particularly striking woman walking down a dirt road in the Caribbean. She had the darkest shade of skin, a brilliant pink dress, a colourful head scarf, a basket on her head and a machete in her hand. I felt it would have been impertinent to take a photo of her but I didn't want to insult her by asking when she stopped to chat. I ended up taking a picture of her from behind when she walked away. And I felt bad about doing so. I have since only taken pictures if I was given permission to do so.

Shutterstock has a very good discussion with leading photographers about camera etiquette around the world.


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