Privacy should be guaranteed

Photographer Brian Green (“Privacy Not Guaranteed,” May 27, Xpress) doesn’t seem to have a very strong moral compass. Addressing some folks’ concerns that his work — which seems to consist mostly of nonconsensual photographs of people in public, sometimes taken without their knowledge — is exploitative, he basically says he can’t help it, and that he “[doesn’t] even think about it.” Later, he adds, “Anyone can take photos of anyone on the street. There’s no expectation of privacy in public. Period.” Cool, real strong stance there, buddy. Is that in the Constitution or something?

I’ve walked by Green’s latest DIY show on Biltmore Street countless times over the past few weeks, and every time I do, it makes me so mad! In one of the photos, someone is literally covering their face with their hand, clearly indicating a desire to not be photographed. But I guess Green doesn’t care about stuff like that.

I’m not interested in whether what he does is legal (it probably is…) or whether it’s art (what isn’t?); what I care about is basic human decency. It’s a sad truth that we live in an an era where our rights to privacy are quickly being destroyed by the NSA, smartphones, social media, and even more nefarious techno-gadgets like Google Glass, but that doesn’t make what Green does any more OK.

Would it be that hard for him to check in with folks after he’s photographed them and ask them how they feel about it? Oh wait, yeah, I guess it would, because most people would probably be pissed off. Or at the very least they might want him to throw some dollars their way instead of using their likenesses, without permission or acknowledgment, to advance his art career.

Mr. Green, why not try making art that calls into question, rather than exploits, our growing lack of privacy?


Sam Kaplan

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2 thoughts on “Privacy should be guaranteed

  1. Dionysis

    Unless the photograph was taken in an area where there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy” it is legal. Whether such photos, taken without the subject’s permission, can be used for profit is another question, still somewhat ambiguous. But you raise valid questions. I wonder if Brian Green would care if someone followed him all over town every day, photographing him as he snapped pics of people on the street (as well as other action shots a bit more candid)?

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