Digital Media Prompt due by Tuesday 5pm

In his article, The Ethics of Street Photography, McGorty discusses a distinct difference between the work of street photographers and the paparazzi. According to McGorty, what is the main distinction? Explain why you agree or disagree with his explanation.

How do the captions of his street photography contradict or align with his work philosophy?


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19 Responses to Digital Media Prompt due by Tuesday 5pm

  1. Elana says:

    McGorty says that the difference between the paparazzi and street photography is that the paparazzi try to create a story by any means possible regardless of the ethics behind their actions, while the street photographer captures an already existing story and leaves it untouched. I would go even further to say that the paparazzi go out of their way to create a story that will shed some negative light on the subject (whether it be fighting at a bar, going clubbing, wearing no makeup, getting arrested, etc.). Street photographers, on the other hand, do not try to bring negativity to the photo. As McGorty said, “my goal is to create a photo and photo series that correctly, and positively, portrays a “street” situation.” Street photographers try to capture everyday life, nothing too exciting, and that is what makes it beautiful.

    I think McGorty’s work aligns with his philosophy because the photos he took do tell a story of their own, do not have negative connotations, and are respectful of the subjects.

  2. knkern94 says:

    McGorty is highlighting that the difference between street photography and photos captured by the paparazzi is the essence of the photograph and the methods behind how it was shot. Street photography is the most authentic you can get, and in a way a tad creepy with how it works. The subject should be unknowing and un-staged, but should still have some purpose in the photo. They should also have no idea the photographer is even there. The paparazzi bombard the subject of their photo and give no care to how their intrusion affects the subject or how their photo turns out. Honestly, the paparazzi could get the ugliest of photos and it will probably sell for a lot more than a beautiful candid. Street photographers make ethical and artistic decisions to make their art while the paparazzi just go in for the kill.
    McGorthy’s work shows his passion for street photography and taking the art seriously for what it is. In every photo there is not one person looking into his camera or even noticing him. There doesn’t seem to be staging and his captions are simplistic, not giving too much away because the photos already do. They are REAL life, and that shouldn’t always need a caption.

  3. alangdon93 says:

    McGorty says that Paparazzi takes a photo to create a story, while street photographer’s capture a candid moment or an “untouched” story. I disagree with his distinction. When one takes a photograph, as we have read in multiple ways, everyone attaches a personal story to the photo. Perhaps the distinction lies in the character of the story being created by the photographer. The paparazzi make a story more negative or less sympathetic story and the street photographer with a positive outlook makes a story more sympathetic to the subject. The Paparazzi takes a single candid moment, pulled out of context to tell any story true or not of the celebrity for the public’s curiosity about celebrity’s lives, while the street photographer takes a candid photo pulled out of context, and looks for the story within that moment for personal enjoyment, a documentary aim, a natural and personal curiosity to step into the life of somebody else. Both are to fill the natural desire to know about a stranger’s life. Both attach a story to a moment, pulled out of context or its “long quotation” as Berger would say. McGorty’s captions add a story to the moment, so his claim that his the stories are “untouched” is contradicted by his addition of captions “touching” the story supposedly inherent in the picture. No matter how “truthful” to the moment he thinks he captured, the truth is that we cannot know, and what we know comes from the caption or story McGorty assigns to the photograph. In short, McGorty’s explanation of street photography to me, sounded a lot like paparazzi and made me uncomfortable that he did not recognize why taking pictures of people without permission and putting it on the internet made people feel uncomfortable, or acknowledge the similarities.

  4. joezim1994 says:

    McGorty makes the distinction pretty clear: the paparazzi “seek to create a story by any means necessarily (sic)” whereas a ‘street photographer’ “captures an existing story and leaves it untouched.” I’m not sure that the dividing line is so clearly defined. What makes one story ‘captured’ and another ‘created?’ It seems like the street photographer cannot always merely capture a story that is already there. At least, the street photographs alone do not. McGorty uses text to embellish and build upon the stories in his pictures; I think that the use of captions tends to go against his professed belief in leaving photographs “untouched.” The photographer is still at play– they cannot be removed and it is disingenuous to say that they merely act as an entirely unbiased capturer of moments, incapable of touching their work.

    The difference ethically is not entirely clear either. McGorty notes that people “do not always want their photo taken by strangers for sport” and, while he says that he “[respects] that,” I did not get the impression that this bothered him. He goes about taking pictures of anyone anyway– even if he has his own personal limits and would not go into paparazzi territory, he admits that other proclaimed “street photographers” might very well take it further than he does. The distinction between street photographers and paparazzi seems much murkier than he will admit.

  5. Ross Fasman says:

    McGorty says that the difference between the paparazzi and street photography is that the paparazzi try to” create a story by any means possible regardless of the ethics behind their actions” while the street photographer captures an “already existing story and leaves it untouched.” In other words, the goal of the paparazzi is the force upon a picture a context or story while in street photography, the goal is to capture a self-promulagating candid moment.

    To me, the difference lies in the ulterior motive. McGorty’s claim that individuals will only ‘allow’ street photographer if captured by a ‘professional’ (the Las Vegas Couple Example) demonstrates that people collectively feel the only ethical means of photography is by the professional; however, this helps support McGorty’s innocent attempt at amateur photography. In other words, the fact that McGorty doesn’t particularly acknowledge ‘professionalism’, but acknowledges the extrinsic quality and intrinsic worth of his photos makes me agree with his claim about his distinction.

    Because the street photographer is trying to capture a moment that isn’t staged nor forced, the captions do seem like a contradiction. The captions are crafted by the photographer; while the caption could genuinely describe the studium of the photograph, it can also drastically alter the punctum which is more along the lines of the paparazzi photographers, not the street photographers. So it is a very delicate line to balance.

  6. According to McGorty, the major difference between paparazzi and street photographers is the respect held for the subject of the photograph. In his article, he states that the paparazzi try to “create a story by any means necessarily regardless of the ethics behind it”. He separates this from the street photographer, who he characterizes as not disturbing the scene or person they are photographing. The paparazzi’s goal is to sensationalize, to create a story or a scandal even if one doesn’t exist, whereas a street photographer attempts to capture real life.
    I would agree with McGorty’s explanation of the difference between paparazzi and street photographers. While there work is similar, there is still a very distinct separation. Street photography clearly tries to be unobtrusive, whereas paparazzi have the opposite aim. But, it appears to me that one of the major differences between the two that McGorty did not elaborate on is the difference between the subjects of their photographs. It seems that street photographers mainly photograph average people that they pass on the streets, whereas the paparazzi targets celebrities.
    The captions of McGorty’s photographs are very brief and ambiguous, and several relate more to himself and the backstory of the photographs than to the pictures’ subjects. I think that he retains respect for the subjects of his photographs, as he professes to do, as he neither claims nor does the text blatantly appear to be the words, thoughts, or sentiments of the people pictured.

  7. sjfrazier015 says:

    According to McGorty, “the paparazzi seek to create a story by any means necessarily regardless of the ethics behind it. A good street photographer captures an existing story and leaves it untouched.” I think to a certain extent, this is true, but in many ways, I’m not quite sure it is accurate. The way McGorty was speaking about street photography was in a way that made it seem almost at a higher moralistic level than a paparazzi. I would have to disagree with this assertion. Many times, the street photographers that capture moments for documentaries or their own collects exploit people and situations. And many times the paparazzi do not create stories with their pictures, the pictures are just a possibly unwanted depiction of reality. And in the mix of things, can’t anyone claim to be a street photographer when in reality, the whole scene is staged. There is no way to give a definite distinction.

    And from what I could tell, the captions most certainly contradict his school of thought. For many weeks in class, we have discussed how weather intentional or unintentional, for good cause or bad, captions add the authors interjection into the photo. So by McGorty adding captions to his photos, he is actually telling his own story instead of letting the photo tell its own story. Many of the captions that I read actually did change my original conception of the photograph from first glance.

  8. The main distinction he argues is that the paparazzi seeks to make a story around their photographs without an ethical consideration. I would have to disagree with this assessment. While he is not necessarily taking pictures of famous people, he still seeks to invade the privacy of the subjects and to photograph them without their knowledge. There is something inherently dishonest and unethical about his creeping around. The fact that he finds that moving on after he is noticed as a sign for an ethical procedure is laughable and nonsensical. It seems that he only moves on because the chance for voyeuristic photography has passed.

    I also think that the captions he provides completely undermine his goal of only documenting street life. If he were to truly document street life, he would not add captions that cause a story to be created. It should simply be a photograph which is self-evident and in no need for further context. This is a clear echo of paparazzi tactics, which he hopes to avoid.

  9. In a moment of self-elevation, McGorty makes the distinction between the paparazzi who “seek to create a story by any means necessarily regardless of the ethics” and himself, the street photographer who “captures an existing story and leaves it untouched.” Interestingly enough, his descriptions that soon follow make the street photographer sound more and more like the paparazzi. He claims that “as long as the subject is in public, and doesn’t have the expectation of privacy, it is legal to take their photo” and that if these offended anyone that “leaving the house in general should be given a second thought.”

    This doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t like the idea of someone taking my photograph and using it to tell their own story. Because, whether McGorty intended to or not, all of his photos and their descriptions told the story he wanted them to. He included captions to alter the viewer’s mindset, and leaves his own imprint on the photo. And regardless, every picture ends up telling the story he wants it to, whether it’s ‘the quirky people at an Irish festival’ or ‘the destitute harmonica player.’ This happens through selection of subjects to photograph and selection of which photographs to use and publish. So as much as McGorty thinks himself superior to the paparazzi, he is actually guilty of the same practices as the paparazzi, just towards average citizens rather than celebrities.

  10. shulamitshroder says:

    Jason McGorty is an amateur photographer who likes to take “street photographs.” He defines these as pictures of people who do not realize that someone is taking a picture of them. He declares this to be different from acting like a paparazzi because street photographers merely take a picture of a story and do not influence it, whereas paparazzi try to create a story. I disagree with his distinction. The only apparent differences are that he is not taking pictures of celebrities but of ordinary people and he is not selling his photographs to tabloids and gossip sites. By taking photographs of people who do not know they are being subjected to the lense of his camera, he is assuming the right to tell their story, to decide what is the truth and what needs to be told. He is not letting them portray themselves as they would like to be, which is also what the paparazzi do to celebrities. The captions under his pictures contradict his stated philosophy, because they do not leave the story untouched – like he said a good street photographer would. For example, his photo of a wedding is captioned with “Wedding Photography Crash”. This caption distracts the viewer away from looking at the happy couple and their friends and forces him/her to find out about the crashing mentioned. This image then becomes associated with the photographer and his adventures, not the beautiful flowers or the bride’s hair. He leaves a big mark on his pictures by captioning them the way he does and so undermines his appearance of being a dispassionate observer clicking away.

  11. According to McGorty, the main distinction between a Street Photographer and paparazzi is that the Street Photographer documents unbeknownst to the subject while the paparazzi has no system of ethics and will do anything to achieve a photograph he or she wants.

    I feel that, for the sake of definition, his explanation is tenable as it is fairly basic and that other photographers probably think of the same when they take photographs anonymously. The only issue I see with it are the situations between a subject being aware of their presence in front of the lens and being completely ignorant. In order words, what is it if a person sees the camera but pretends not to notice, or what if someone is exposed to the camera for so long that they condition to its presence? I feel that it would be hard to define these moments, which makes this definition of street photography more ideal than practical.

    I feel that the captions McGorty places for his photographs justify him and his point in the article similar to how Mohr did in his essay on the relationship within the photographer, the subject and the observer. His captions serve to prove how ignorant the subjects are of their documentation, with captions such as “Nobody knows…” or “Wedding Photography Crash”. Otherwise, the unknowing subjects in the photographs and the photographs themselves are largely defined by what the caption says they are, “rebels” and “sunset”. This channeling of representation to the photographer expresses the concept that Street Photography is taken without the subject’s knowledge.

  12. According to Jason McGorty, street photography is “candid pictures taken in public of real life.” He notes how once the subject of the photograph notices the camera and recognizes that they are being photographed, it is no longer photography. I believe it was Barthes that wrote about the human tendency to pose when they realize they are in front of a camera. McGorty believes in this concept as well because he only classifies candid photographs as street photography. McGorty explains that this is different from paparazzi because paparazzi “seek to create a story by any means necessarily regardless of the ethics behind it.” Paparazzi will sit out and wait for their target to step out into the public, whereas street photographers happen to stumble upon things that are already happening. Paparazzi also have no concern for ethics. While it is not illegal to take pictures in public places, street photographers still know when it is appropriate to take a picture of someone whereas paparazzi are on a mission to get the picture they need, regardless of ethics. I agree with McGorty that these are the main characteristics that separate street photography and paparazzi. I think that the photographer’s purpose is most important. Both pictures can be candid, but street photography is simply documenting a story that is already there whereas paparazzi are taking pictures and making a story out of them.
    McGorty’s photographs both support and contradict his philosophy. The photographs look candid, but how can we be sure that they are not posed? McGorty could have told the subjects to look away and act normal; or they could be truly candid. The captions on the other hand seem to contradict his philosophy. He is creating his own story by adding those captions and warping our interpretation of the photograph. How can we be sure that his captions are the real story that he happened to stumble upon?

  13. Emily Schweich says:

    McGorty believes that paparazzi seek to create a story out of an image, regardless of the ethics involved in this story’s creation. Meanwhile, street photographers capture existing stories and leave them untouched.

    I agree with McGorty’s explanation. I believe that paparazzi focus on the importance of the operator in identifying the truth of the picture. They play a more active role in shaping the photograph to represent the story they want to tell. For example, if they want to convey that “stars are just like us,” they might capture the photograph from a less flattering angle.

    In contrast, street photographers are more passive, capturing the moment that the subject is experiencing and moving on. McGorty seems to embody this philosophy through his photography and his cameras. His captions are so brief and ambiguous that I don’t feel that he’s imposing a story on any of the subjects as Bourke-White and Caldwell did in You Have Seen Their Faces. McGorty does assume that if subjects are in public, they have given consent to being photographed, which is not always the case, but he seems to know where his boundaries begin and end as a photographer and doesn’t seek to harm anyone through his photography as paparazzi would. For example, he stepped away from the wedding party when they acknowledged his presence, limiting his photographing to a few candid shots.

    P.S. When I traveled to Boston two years ago, I saw several weddings going on in the Boston Public Garden, including a really cool Indian wedding procession. I may or may not have been one of those amateur “street photographers” lingering around with my point-and-shoot. McGorty, I get you.

  14. esrayagoub says:

    According to this article street photographers and paparazzi do the same thing with different motives. Both want to capture scenes that are not staged and want the subject to be unaware of the photographers. Street photographers want the photo to tell the story whereas paparazzi want to tell a story using the photos they have taken. based on his own definition I don’t think the author can consider himself a street photographer, By adding captions to his images he is creating a story no matter how vague the caption might be. Also the author claims that street photographers aren’t necessarily looking for a certain subject but later contradict himself. When he was taking photos at that wedding he was looking for the wedding party to act in ways he considered normal, he wanted to capture them laughing.

    Street photography fascinates me, but I am not sure this author clarified it for me. I get that street photographers want to capture scene without being intrusive or invading people’s privacy, I also get that they are trying to capture a reality that is not staged, I just think that it is an impossible task.because In a way every image is staged: the photographer chose to take that image rather then capture the same scene from a different angle. As far as captions go, I think there shouldn’t be any in street photography.

  15. The main difference between the work of street photographer and the paparazzi according to McGorty is that, “The paparazzi seek to create a story by any means necessarily regardless of the ethics behind it.” McGorty views the paparazzi as using unethical methods to get a story out of the photographs. However, I think I would disagree to him claim. I am not completely opposed to the idea and the art of Street Photography. In a way I see it as a more organic depiction of certain subjects and environments. However, I would not claim that street photography is that different from paparazzi.

    I don’t see it as being very “ethical” to take pictures of people and posting it on a website without the subject’s knowledge. Although McGorty is not trying to get a story out of the photographs (with an ideology of capturing, “an existing story and leaves it untouched.”)there is still the factor of taking pictures that people may not have wanted to be taken. For instance, he does mention a concerned woman who thought that he may have taken a picture of her unbuttoned blouse. I also believe the McGorty has some unethical techniques that he mentioned he wanted to use. There is something morally wrong with making fancy business cards and giving it to people in order to trick them that you are a professional photographer. Despite these facts, I still believe this is an interesting form of photography but it is not completely performed differently from the way paparazzi performs.

    In a couple of his photos, there seems to be some captions that display some harm in ethics. In the image with the man playing the harmonica the captions says, “Nobody know…” This gives the spectator a potentially false idea of who this man really is. It gives the idea that he may have been through something harmful or traumatic. Its a very abstract caption that may elicit more bad ideas than good. Another photo with potential misrepresentation is the picture of the three people sitting in chair in front of signs. The caption reads, “Rebels with a cause.” This caption is somewhat redundant because most rebels have a cause. Also, how does McGorty know that these people are rebels. “Rebels” often times comes with a negative connotation. I don’t think he knows their story well enough to label that on them.

  16. shjones says:

    McGorty defines the paparazzi as those who “seek to create a story by any means necessarily regardless of the ethics behind it.” He defines “good” street photography (although I’m not sure where his credentials are coming from) as one who “captures an existing story and leaves it untouched.” I do have to agree with McGorty. The paparazzi are those who wish to sell photographs of celebrities and their personal lives by making them into stories. That is to say, the pictures they take are much less subjective and more biased towards a certain interpretation. Street photographers just take pictures of what they see, based on aesthetic merit, and do not try to deliver just a single message.

    McGorty’s captions do contradict his belief in the role of a street photographer however. If the street photographer is supposed to be taking “candid” pictures that deliver no specified story, then what is the role of a caption? It serves to do just the opposite, and create only a narrow space in which the photograph can be interpreted.

  17. McGorty argues that the main difference between street photographers, as he considers himself, and paparazzi is “the paparazzi seek to create a story by any means necessarily regardless of the ethics behind it. A good street photographer captures an existing story and leaves it untouched”. To follow this argument to its logical conclusion, McGorty would seem to be arguing that it is only when accompanied with blocks of text that street photography becomes the work of paparazzi. After all, paparazzi take photos of celebrities and then write a story to go along with it, while McGorty simply, he argues, captions his photos with text. However, this argument does not hold up in every situation, or indeed in many situations.
    McGorty’s caption of the photo “Red Rocks Creator” is a perfect example of this. The man in the picture is not creating the rocks, as that is not possible. He could be enjoying the weather. He could be stretching. He could, indeed, be pretending to be creating the rocks. Or he could be glorying in the view. Regardless, McGorty has defined how the observer should see the man in the photo. He has created a story by denying all other possibilities. While the story he creates may be less wordy than the story created by the paparazzi, the method is the same. Thus, the difference between a paparazzo and a street photographer is smaller than McGorty thinks.

  18. megmck12 says:

    The biggest distinction McGorty makes is of the stories involved in paparazzi and street photography, respectively. Paparazzi use photography to support a story they are seeking to create. The street photographer captures a story that already existis. Further, the street photographer is conscious of the rights of the subject, where the paparazzi are conscious only of getting the story. I agree with this definition–street photography is an art form working towards capturing a story, while being conscious of the subject. Paparazzi, on the other hand, aims on capturing a story for entertainment, without the subject’s privacy or consent in mind.

    I believe McGorty’s photographs do align with his philosophy. They are photographs of existing stories and have no qualities of scandal or entertainment.

  19. maxinesrich says:

    According to Jason McGorty, the difference between street photography is that it does not get in others’ ways, and is not “pervy,” whereas paparazzi photography is taken and published regardless of the desires of those being photographed. McGorthy explains that a street photographer must follow the golden rule, doing what you would want others to do unto you, as he takes his photographs. I do feel that this is an acceptable definition, because paparazzi photography is by definition invasive, nosy, and often times searches for a scandalous story that may not be there. However, McGorthy’s own tactics do not align with his professed definition and values. In his description of the woman with the stroller, he explains that he found her overly brash in her questioning of his photographs upon realizing that she had lost a button. While he did not take the photographs, he does laugh off the woman in his writing, indicating a general lack of respect of her. The part of this article that particularly struck me was his complete disrespect of the security guard at the end of the article, who asserted that the bulding that was McGrothy’s camera’s subject was private property, and thus not fit to be photographed. Although a building is not exactly a person, McGorthy’s complete disrespect of the desires of the security guard in charge, both in his mocking characterization of the guard as a “homeless man” in the caption and his posting of the photo just to spite the man, with humorous mocking in its caption, completely falls in line with his definition of paparazzi–to break his self-professed ethics without regard for the desires of those on the street.

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