the Roadside Artist studio
Oregon/NW fine art, photography, now featuring  Chriss Haight Pagani
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Rural Street Photography Project

  Street photography  is a subset of documentary photography that features subjects in candid situations in public space - it is not about streets; it is about life. The goal of street photography is to document people and life around us in the least obtrusive way possible. It is capturing without affecting. For more on the definition of street photography you may go here.
STATEMENT ON STREET PHOTOGRAPHY BY THE ARTIST: Most of my street photography work appears only on my blog but it may become something else at some point. My main focus has been on rural/small town street photography. I feel that there are already a million photographers documenting the target-rich environment of urban settings; small town and rural people deserve attention too... Although I have always loved street photography, I was finally inspired to take up the cause by the amazing  Juliana Beasley (candid, documentary photographer) and the great (and mostly unknown) works of Chicago street photographer  Vivian Maier. To me, the ideal of street photography is to capture mundane life as it naturally occurs around us. As much as possible, life should be captured without altering it in any way. Therefore, if the subject of your photograph sees you taking their picture, it may spoil  the naturalness of the moment. Nevertheless, there are many reasons why I might want to use a person's image even if they are looking at me. To be true to the art form, however, one must be very careful in this regard lest ones efforts at street photography degenerate into common portraiture or even snapshots. 

Had your picture taken? Here is what you need to know:

   If you would like a copy of your image, write to me and tell me about it! If I can match up a person with an image that I've saved, I'll be happy to give you a copy of your photograph for free. I have yet to have someone complain about having their picture taken, although there is sometimes a degree of discomfort. If someone were to become truly upset, because I'm a very polite person, I might delete their image if I am using a digital camera just to help them feel better - and that would be their loss. This is entirely optional, however. Contrary to the belief of some, there is no right to not be photographed in America.  If you are in a public place, you can be photographed by anyone at any time and for any reason. In fact, there are  probably security cameras taking pictures of me as well as my subjects at every moment.

   It's just something most of us prefer to avoid thinking about but the truth is that most of us are photographed many times every day in public places, and even some that are not so public. Most of those photographs are taken by government  cameras and anonymous corporate cameras - they do nothing for the subject; they simply file away your image for future reference/use. And just to add to all of this,  the police in many cities now employ street photography techniques to "gather intelligence" on the general public.

   In contrast to that anonymous and sometimes hostile collection of data, there is my work; and my work is art. If I take your picture, I have imparted a kind of immortality. Whether you know it or not, my picture may well become your greatest and most lasting legacy.

   What generally cannot be done (and I do NOT do) in Street Photography: 
 - Someone cannot use your image for purely commercial purposes, such as in an advertisement, without your permission. If you ever hear about a lawsuit over a photo, this is always the reason behind the suit. However, "commercial purpose" does not mean that a photo cannot appear in a magazine or book. In fact, this is the main means by which street photographers make their living. Photography in pubic places is considered photojournalism, and as such is protected by the first amendment to the US constitution.
 - You have a right to privacy when not in public space, such as in your home or a sequestered place otherwise accessible to the public,  such as a public restroom.  This is another case where  permission would be required as a general rule. As a side note, though, in my home state (Oregon) the State Supreme Court has ruled that people can be photographed in public restrooms without their permission. I think that refers to the open part of restrooms, not the stalls, but it doesn't really matter because I won't be doing that sort of thing, anyway
 - If you are an actor or model, you have some additional rights under "rights of publicity" rules:  The idea here is that if you make your living from your own image then there is trademark protection for that image. Even then however, you can still be photographed in a public place without your consent and those photographs can be reproduced and sold - that's how paparazzi make their living!

   If you give this matter more serious consideration,  why wouldn't one want to be immortalized? That is why celebrities are celebrities; they worked hard to get there - they were not drafted. And although they may complain and whine about paparazzi taking their picture everywhere they go, I know for a FACT that the celebrity himself/herself (or his/her assistant or agent) is usually the one who tips-off photographers about where he/she is going to be. In other words, they want it while  they complain about it. It's what makes them a star.

   Still, I can understand that someone might feel differently and object to my photographing of them. If that were to happen, I'd have to wonder about that person's level of ignorance; do they think the camera can steal their soul? Are voices in their head telling them that the big bad photographer is plotting against them? But I also know that everyone is entitled to his/her wrong ideas about things and that is just the way of the world.

   This is my personal view: Many people spend tons of time and money trying to become "somebody" (note the aforementioned celebrities) - yet I offer that opportunity for free... for a fortunate  few. A hundred years from now my pictures may be the only evidence remaining that my subjects ever lived or did anything. It may sound  grim to some and you may even think it is rude but it is the truth: There is more fame in being the subject of a street photograph than there is in 99.99 percent of the rest of life.

  This is real life, as it happens.

Read more on the Phyla of Street Photography or see other Pagani documentary photos at the RA blog.

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