Each photograph in the 2022 365 Black & White Challenge is made available as a single limited edition print. If you are interested, click here to purchase this print. I thank you for your support of my photography and this website.
Entry number 16 in the 365 Black & White Challenge is a photograph of a sheep I have this morning named Baaart.
Baaart is part of what I refer to as a “mini-farm” on the road on which I live. There’s a house and an expanse of land surrounding it which holds a few sheep and occasionally other animals. The street on which I Iive is by no means a rural area, there are many houses and many estates containing many units which makes this little self-contained farm stand out. Baaart lives on his/her own in a plot of land protected by an electric fence. I’m not sure what crime a sheep has to have committed to be doing hard time like this but I can only imagine having seen the fire in his/her eyes.
I try not to hang around baaart for too long in case farmer Joe (not his real name as far as I know) is watching and comes at me with a shotgun of which I am positive he has. Legally he does have the right to ask me not to photograph the animals on his property and if asked, I will most certainly desist and move on.
This seems to be a good point to discuss what/who can and cannot be photographed out in the real world. It’s also nice to know as a citizen of Australia when you have the right to be not photographed.
In the age of social media, it is increasingly common for someone to get photographed without their permission and for images of them to be published without their permission or without their knowledge. In the early days of photography, the same issue arose with unsolicited street photography being done by amateur or professional photographers. While some countries have legislated to protect people from unwanted photography and to give people the ability to control the use of their image, other countries, including Australia, have yet to make such laws.
As it currently stands, I can legally walk up to you on a public street, shove a camera in your face and photograph away.
Legally, I can do this. Ethically and morally, I would never do this.
In Australia, it is not currently an offence to photograph someone without permission or to distribute or publish photos of someone without their permission in other circumstances. There is currently no civil law remedy for being photographed without your permission or for having photographs of you distributed or published outside of the abovementioned situations. Furthermore, it is not against the law to photograph or video children in public places without their parents’ permission, provided the images are not obscene and do not breach criminal laws on child abuse material.
The biggest frustration I have faced as a photographer was when I took my son or daughter to a park and bought a camera along. The looks I’ve occasionally received have made me uncomfortable. I’ve never tried to explain that I am completely within my rights to photograph any person at the park as I feel that would not help the situation in any way. I must also note I’ve never pointed my camera at another child without introducing myself to the parent and obtaining permission.
This includes recently when I took photos at my daughter’s dance class (this photo on the blog). Even though the teacher informed me that every parent has signed a form stating they give permission for their child(ren) to be photographed within the activities of the dance class, I still went to say hello, explained what I was doing and obtain permission. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Having been a Dance Dad for a while now, they all knew me and had no issues, even going as far as to ask where the photos could be seen. It does also make a difference when you are wielding one or two cameras that look “professional” as opposed to a mobile phone.
I recently heard of a town or country that has passed laws making it illegal to photograph breastfeeding in public. I wish I could remember where I saw this because I applaud this legislation. I’ve taken many breastfeeding photos in my time but always in the line of my work as a photographer and at the request of the mother as they can make a beautifully intimate portrait of the connection between a mother and child.
Just to provide balance and education, as Australian law currently stands, there are a few ways person may be committing an offence if they photograph someone without the person’s permission or publish a photo of someone without permission in the following circumstances, but as they are rather heavy and explicit in nature, we’ll leave it off the blog for now.
It’s important to know these things as a photographer and as someone having a camera or recording device pointed at them. I’m no lawyer and my comments here are based purely upon regular research and conversations with a couple of lawyers (in social situations).
To bring this post full circle, having photographed Baaart on what could be considered private land, am I in the wrong? Baaart was well aware he/she was being photographed and moved closer to the camera (and not to ask me to stop). I’m also not sure that the property Baaart was on is owned by the mini-farm from discussions I’ve had with locals and that the farmer is using the land as it’s been left abandoned for quite some time. Maybe he has an agreement with the owner, I’m not sure. But one thing is for certain, I only photograph Baaart when he/she is close to the fence, I would never enter the property to photograph and would certainly stop shooting if asked to do so, by the sheep or the farmer.
Have a great day and I’ll see you in the next post.
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Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max @ 26mm (35mm equivalent)
1/3800 | f/1.5 | ISO 50
Tuesday January 11, 2022 @ 18:40
Carrum Downs, Victoria, Australia
B&W 365 - 16/365