Dilemma: To shoot or not to shoot? Part II

Is it appropriate to take photos of children?

Another topic that I find myself discussing fairly frequently is whether it is appropriate to take photos of children while shooting street. This can be a very heated topic, and much like our political climate in 2019, you won’t find many moderates, just a whole lot of people leaning very heavily to the left, or to the right.

I understand why things are so heavily split. I’m sure that there are a lot of photographers out there that are also parents. Also, there are many people out there that don’t understand the art of street photography and think that any photo taken of people in a public space is a violation of rights, so to them, a photo taken of a child would probably set them all the way off.

Personally, I understand why people would be against taking photos of children, however, I am not. Like most things when it comes to street photography, you have to ask yourself why you’re taking the photo. If it feels like a great moment — one worth capturing for future generations — why should it not be captured? If every street photographer felt like it was not appropriate to photograph children, we would lose some of the greatest work from Diane Arbus, Gordon Parks, Vivian Maier, Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helen Levitt, Mary Ellen Mark, Garry Winogrand… this list could go on forever. What I think onlookers fail to understand when they see a photographer taking a photo of a child is that the photographer is trying to capture a moment — a moment that can be admired by future generations, just as we admire the past work from the legendary photographers that I have mentioned above.

While I do feel like taking photos of children is appropriate, there are times where it is not. I’m not going to go into too much detail on this because I’m sure that this list varies from person to person. Moments that feel appropriate for some, may feel inappropriate to others. I’ve attached a carousel of photos below. All of these photos are candid. Some of the children I know personally, while others were complete strangers. In both cases, to me, they were moments worth capturing.

Lastly, I would love to hear your opinions. So if you feel like discussing this, please leave a comment and we can continue the conversation.