Street Photography & The Law

by | Oct 18, 2021

Thoughts for today from Joe Farace

The subtitle of today’s post should really be “Why I’m not a Street Photographer” because it’s not a genre that I’m all that good at or am even comfortable shooting. Believe it or not, part of my difficulty—just ask my wife— is that I’m basically a shy person and don’t want to impose on anybody’s privacy. When shooting street photography in Colorado I’m also concerned about the possibility of offending people, getting punched in the face or having a run-in with police. I don’t like any of these options but I’m trying to overcome this reluctance and it’s going to be one of my 2022 New Year’s Resolutions.

How I Made this Shot: I photographed this street in Brighton, Colorado with the unicorn* Epson RD-1 digital rangefinder camera. Lens (I think, no EXIF data on it) was a Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f/2.0 with an Av exposure of 1/270 sec at f/8 and ISO 200.

While studying photography at the Maryland Institute of Art, I was privileged to have Jack Wilgus as an teacher. One of my fondest memories of Jack was his occasionally facetious comments about how some of the best photographs were being made by students in the school’s break room. Not real photographs, mind you, but conversations from my erstwhile colleagues about the great photographs they were going to make—someday. While some of those images may have actually gotten made, I’ll bet few of them actually produced the photographs they talked about so excitedly with their friends and Jack’s comments echo with me today.

Photographers, both amateur and professional, often get so wrapped up in what they have successfully been doing for so long that they forget to explore the kind of new directions that attracted them to the art form in the first place.

Digital imagers, I think, can spend so much time being mesmerized by the pixels on our computer monitors that they often forget to make time to create some new photographs, something different from the last batch of images. I think it’s a good idea to not only take time to smell the roses but photograph them as well. Make yourself a promise that this week you’ll go out and make some new images.

Tip: What are your rights when photographing on the street? Bert P. Krages II, attorney at law, has developed a one-page flyer containing information on what your rights are when stopped and confronted by the authorities. As the author of Legal Handbook for Photographers, Mr. Krages is knowledgeable about photographer’s rights. I would like to thank him for producing a document that explains what our rights are, legal remedies if/when harassed, but most importantly how to handle these kinds of confrontations. Print a copy and keep it in your camera bag—just in case.

*Unicorn. The 6.1-megapixel Epson RD-1 digital rangefinder camera with Leica M-mount was manufactured by Cosina/Voigtlander for Epson from 2004 to 2007. The camera was never officially imported into the USA but back in the day, when Epson liked me, the company sent me one to review for Professional Photographer magazine. I loved the camera. You can pick up a used one on eBay from Japan with prices ranging from $1500 to $3000, about what you could buy a 10-megapixel Leica M8 with its legendary CCD sensor. Look for a post about that camera real soon now.



My book Creative Digital Monochrome Effects is available from Amazon for $18.80 with, as I write this, used copies starting around two bucks. That’s cheaper than a venti Starbucks latte, so get’em while you can.