The Ethics of Shooting Street Photos of Strangers You Can’t Identify With

Here’s a thought-provoking 9-minute video by UK photographer Jamie Windsor regarding the ethics of street photography.

Windsor examines the work of the late Hong Kong photographer Fan Ho and American photographer Nan Goldin, contrasting their photos with the work of Magnum photographer Martin Parr.

Since Ho and Goldin have “lived the subjects they’re representing” (i.e. living through Hong Kong’s changes and struggling with drugs and abuse, respectively), their photos have a truth that comes through, Windsor says.

On the other hand, when Windsor looks at Parr’s work, he can’t help but feel that they show glimpses of the working class through the eyes of a middle-class photographer.

“Can you accurately represent a culture that you are not part of?” Windsor asks. “How much insight can you really offer?”

“When we see a stranger for a brief moment on the street, we know nothing about their lives or who they are. Any commentary we wish to make is determined by our preconceived ideas about them. We are limited by the lens of our own experience.”