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When is it okay to snap and share pics of strangers?

by AirTalk®

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It's legal to take photos of people in a public space, but does always mean it's ethically okay to take them? Hugo Chinchilla/Flickr

Photography has become so easy, instantaneous, fleeting and disposable. To complicate matters, unless you're a flip-phone holdout, your smartphone isn't just equipped with precision cameras but a connection for sharing it with the entire world at the simple touch of your finger.

While it is legal to photograph a stranger in a public place, is it ethical? If you snap a picture for well-intentioned reasons, does that make it okay?

Photographer Adam Marelli believes there are three questions to ask yourself before you click: Am I really interested in this person, or are the just a odd looking person? If they want a copy will I give them one? Would I talk to them if I did not have a camera?

Self-styled street photographers are growing legion thanks to Instagram and the like. But is it exploitative? What if you sneak a photo of someone wearing a ridiculous or hideous outfit? Or someone who is embarrassingly drunk? Or a hipster with a typewriter on the highline?

And if you don't plan to share it on social media, does that make it okay? Do you have to ask permission first? Or should we all be on our best behavior in our Sunday best, because it’s a free-for-all?

Adam Marelli, Photographer and Artist based in New York; Marelli teaches photography workshops, including at the Leica Akademie; on the web

Alveraz Ricardo, Street Photographer based in Los Angeles; his current exhibit is showing downtown at the Blackstone Gallery on Broadway St.; on the web

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