'Permission Slips' by Nathan Jurgenson in the New Inquiry

Image by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Image by Henri Cartier-Bresson

'The specific ethics of individual street photographers vary wildly in both theory and practice: Some focus intensely on permission, respect, and consent; others less so.

These ethics matter, because the street photographer’s practice is a powerful force today, pursued not just by the people we actually call street photographers but also the masses of smartphone-carrying camera flâneurs, as well as by the corporate and governmental surveillance apparatuses surrounding us. These all congeal into a pervasive cultural perspective that views and treats the world as a street photographer does: people in public are objects to be claimed and exposed, and incipient virality takes precedent over consent. What is it like to live in a world of so many web-connected lenses? Street photography is not just a photographic process any longer but a cultural ethos, an obsessive way of seeing the world as always possessable, to be acquired, collected, managed, and ultimately sold.'

Read the essay here.