“There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.” ― Abraham Lincoln
My short family vacation in Quebec comes to a close and as usual I enjoyed the scenery and life in the city. Quebec City has a distinctly European feel and is unlike other cities I have visited. It is one of my favourite destinations, the restaurants are great, the atmosphere is friendly, the street entertainment is excellent, and as a photographer there are rich opportunities on every corner.
However I am not likely to post street photos that feature people because Quebec’s laws are not as photographer friendly as most of other countries or provinces. I have read a couple forums and discussions on Quebec’s laws and I am not clear on what is allowable, so I err on the side of caution.
A link regarding this is posted below and it is interesting and worth reading if you plan to pursue street photography in Quebec. There are several discussions about this on the Internet and interpretations seem to vary widely, so read carefully.
So if you plan to pursue street photography in Quebec be mindful of the legal nuances that make this area unique.
Should photographers capture people’s images without permission.
I can understand both sides of the argument. One is the right to privacy, The other argument is that there should be no expectation of privacy in a public area (I agree with the latter, but don’t get to decide). In Ontario, a point to note is that not all areas open to the public are public areas, Malls and museums etc.are examples where the owner of the property can post signs restricting photos without permission. City parks and gardens require permits for commercial photography, but private photos are not an issue. I find however that some guards assume that if you have a DSLR camera or any light modifier (small flash) you are assumed to be a commercial photographer. I have been asked to stop photographing my wife while other people around are snapping away with point and shoot cameras or cell phones. I don’t suggest arguing the point because in a private location the guards have the right to tell you to stop.
Personally, I prefer asking for permission for taking photographs of people especially those that I want to post. If I see an interesting outfit or person I go up and say what I like about them and ask if I can make their portrait and I explain that it may get shared with a group of other photography hobbyists. The personal challenge for me is to identify a location, engage the subjects and communicate my plans in a manner that is acceptable, and finally pose them. This is a skill that I am still working on.
This is an unprecedented age of photography, every phone has a camera and photography is now one of the most popular hobbies, but the laws are generally not well known by all amateur photographers. The rise of popular blogs also adds another dimension to the discussion; photographs are allowed if the subject is deemed newsworthy, but the point when a blog turns into a news agency is blurred, especially given that people now get their news from personal blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. There are always stories about people being caught unawares by passers-by and being unwittingly thrust into the public eye when the post goes viral, sometimes with dire consequences to the individual. This is not s trend that I am comfortable with.
Some photographers are not respectful of the public at large which puts all photographers in a bad light. It is not fair to the vast majority of photographers, but this is not a new problem or one even peculiar to photography. I am sure that there are changes around the corner, but for now let’s just enjoy our hobby responsibly.
The photograph used in this post is the Quebec landmark Montmorency Waterfall. There are people in the photograph but they are not the subject of the photograph and is therefore perfectly legitimate.
Note: This is my interpretation based on reading several posts. I welcome any corrections.