If you’re in the public space using media, you’ve already signed the contract.

For this week’s task, I have taken a video of various students going about their daily business in a grassy area in the university. It is just a simple panning video with some students on their phones; some other students chatting to others and some others are eating. I recorded this short video just to give a sense of relaxed student behaviour on campus. I did not ask anyone in this video if they would let me film because I think it would be impractical to ask every single person in the video for permission . “In actuality, it would be impractical to ask every person in the frame whether they’re OK with a picture. That said, if someone clearly does not want to be photographed or if they are for their photo to be deleted after the fact, then I do think those wishes have to be respected.” (Colberg 2013)

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I think that I am not being unethical because I am not focussing on anyone in particular, plus if someone asked me to not video them then I would respect their wishes. I also did not ask because I did not want to disrupt the essence of the whole video. I wanted to capture student behaviour in its most natural form, so if I asked before taking the video then perhaps it would have disrupted the environment a little. Perhaps I could have asked after, but if someone said no to the video then it would make things complicated. Plus, I do believe that you can learn a bit about yourself from other people observing you “That said, and second, it’s the photographic community’s task to educate the public about what they’re doing. In other words, instead of posturing about what they can do, street photographers better tell the public how what they’re doing is not only mindful of the public’s concerns, but also constitutes an important and valuable artistic practice that enriches not just the practitioners’ but everybody else’s lives.” (Colberg, 2013)

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I do believe that you should ask for permission if you are intending to use the video or image in a way that could be viewed as negative even if they are not your intentions. I chose these students in particular because they weren’t doing anything negative so that I couldn’t have possibly portrayed them that way.

I also made sure that there weren’t any minors in my clip because I didn’t ask for permission. If I did however record a minor, I would ask because it is highly frowned upon filming or taking photos of children that are not yours without giving reason, even if it is legal. Colberg (2013) explains how photographers have been getting into hot water from taking photos of their own nude children. One aspect of my behaviour that I am battling to find ethical is that if being in the clip goes against their religious, spiritual or personal beliefs. Or maybe they do not want to be “exposed”. It is the fact that someone else has the power to do it and not them. I will never know because I did not ask for permission, but I think that I tried to make it as ethical as possible by not portraying any one of them in a negative light and also made it quite a “general” and “natural” clip. I do think that if you are going to use media devices in a public space, you are subjecting yourself and basically resigning yourself to the fact that it is ok to be the subject of observation due to this behaviour. Public space ethnography is effective because then we can maybe get a clearer understanding as to why our behaviour might be influenced by changing media patterns. Being in the public is essentially making yourself more vulnerable so researching behaviours out in the public will lead to answers as to why media patterns are shifting these behaviours.

References:

http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/the_ethics_of_street_photography/

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