Q Are there any rules I should follow when photographing people in other countries? Keith Wyatt
A I don’t think there are any rules as such; it all depends
on where you are and what the situation is. However, I do think you need to be sensitive to any cultural considerations and think about whether what you are doing is likely to cause any offence. I’ve lost count of the number of countries I’ve visited and photographed the people. Yet I can count on one hand the times that I’ve inadvertently upset someone – and I shoot candids.
Being discrete rather than sneaky works well for me, as does the simple measure of asking someone for permission. But you get two different types of image with each approach. I know that photographing people can be very daunting and it makes a lot of people feel uneasy. But there’s no doubt in my mind that when you are visiting a different culture, the people are an important part of the photographic record you should come back with.
Basically, Keith, I’d suggest you make sure you understand any nuances of the culture of the place you are visiting that might be an issue, but also be open and friendly when you are there. I think if we are all sensitive to cultural differences, then we’ll know when it is appropriate to shoot images and when it’s not. Sticking to strict rules doesn’t work – you have to be able to judge the situation.
Learn about the cultural quirks of any country you visit, but remember that a friendly smile can get you a long way towards your photo.