Friday, February 8, 2013

Northrup and Paparazzi

I've gotten some interesting reactions to my recent post on publishing photos without consent. It's definitely a loaded issue. Jin Zhu's reaction in particular I think is worth reading. Somehow my post was conflated with another one written the same day by Joerg Colberg deriding Paparazzi.

Although I think the two cases are somewhat related, they are also quite different. Northrup's photos were made with the subject's full knowledge and consent. In the case of Paparazzi, photos are generally made without consent, often from a distance and without the subject's knowledge. Sometimes the Paparazzi may even go to the extreme of shooting from a hidden location, perhaps a darkened room or Oswald-esque 4th floor window.

Such photos blur the line between candids and outright surveillance. It's almost guaranteed they will catch subjects in compromised positions.

Paparazzis have no shame. Sometimes they shoot innocent kids on the way to school.

Hey, what about naked kids? Anything is fair game, right?

From just the right angle, one can eliminate identity entirely and just focus on raw carnal imagery.

To me these photos are a million miles from what Northrup is doing.

What are those Paparazzi thinking? How dare they? From my point of view they're engaged in a purely malicious act. Does our right to make or take any photograph really trump people’s right to live dignified lives? Why, there oughta be a law or something.

(Photo credits: 2012 Concientious Portfolio Competition winner Hye-Ryoung Min.)


PE Preston said...

This video of Joseph Gordon-Levitt giving some paparazzi a taste of their own medicine in both brilliant and totally depressing:

But we (by that I mean people generally) have only ourselves to blame for making such behavior pay.

Jin said...

Not sure how it came to be thought that Northrup = paparazzi. Joerg's post is relevent because of the issue of consent and having one's image used against one's will. There's no doubt that Northrup is not a paparazzo.

That said, there are some parallels - it is not outright illegal to photograph celebs in public nor is it exactly illegal to publish photos of someone without their consent. In both cases though if the subject feels like their privacy has been invaded, they can attempt to take legal action. Both are in a rather murky moral territory, but that is admittedly a matter of personal opinion and belief.

However, there is one key difference. The paparazzi are (for the most part) in public spaces where no one really has an expectation of privacy. I don't for a second think Northrup was treating his wife the way a paparazzo would but I do think the photos he took were in a more private arena and she has more basis for an expectation of privacy than a celeb in public.

Blake Andrews said...

The Northrup/Paparazzi comparison is not mine. It was raised by others on Facebook and Twitter. I agree it's a stretch. I also agree celebs in public have diminished expectation of privacy, but what about a kid on a school bus? Thanks for your thoughtful comment, and the post you wrote. I think you've given this issue more thought than most.

PE Preston said...

If there's a similarity between them, it comes from the similar arguments made in support of the right to take or use these photographs regardless of any objections from the persons on the other side of the lens. Although Northrup did not take the photographs of his ex in a "paparazzi" way, his desire to use them despite her objections feels a bit more "paparazzi."

strobo said...

There's something missing in these last couple of responses, and thank goodness people took time to respond. But I think there's 2 things at work that hasn't been discussed... Property and Ownership. I feel my photos are my "property" and I "own" them... like my house or my car, or an idea. They are "copyrighted". And as Iv'e said before, a photo is just a 2 dimensional plane of values arranged to "mimic" reality. There's also the First Amendment which is overlooked here. As long as the photos were done with the subjects total knowledge, and that the photos are not used to defame or embarrass and their publishing/showing does not cause direct harm to that persons way of life, than even if the subject is simply uncomfortable with their exposure is not enough to sit on years of professional work. The distress to the photographer, their profession, their life, must also be considered.