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ETEC-565G-65A

Hands-on Assignment 1: Culture Mapping


Chad Tobin
January 19, 14
Defined Cultural Practice: Taking a Photo of a Person in Public
Rational: One of my personal hobbies that I spent most of my free time doing is
being a street photographer. This type of photography is quite different from
shooting landscapes, weddings, and general photography. Street Photography
includes capturing the human condition as an observer on the street sometimes
informing the subject and sometimes capturing their photograph without them
knowing. As soon as I read over this assignment I couldnt help but reflect on my
practice of taking my camera out in public and the cultural expectations that happen
with the click of the shutter.
Another reason why I chose this topic is because my life partner who is a lawyer
cannot be with me when I am doing street photography because she does not like
me taking photographs of people in public without their permission. There are
times that I ask for permission from a stranger if I can take their picture and for this
assignment I have chosen that for my defined behavior.
Asking to Take Someones Photo in Public
Instruction Manual
*(Warningtaking photographs of people in public even with their permission can
result in: Being told off, having the people that are with them become upset or
violent. Please proceed with caution!
Authors Note: This guide on How to Take Someones Photo in Public will allow the
user even if they are new to our culture to be able to start right after following my
step by step instructions. YES YOU TOO can become a street photographer with my
easy to follow guide or your money back!!!
Cultural Rules of How to Take Someones Photo in Public
Step 1: Before leaving the house or place where you are staying make sure you have
on clean clothes and a tidy appearance. Having a clean appearance makes you more
non-threatening with a camera. Avoid wearing dark color clothing as it may give off
an appearance of being sneaky. Bright colors are associated with happy and more
non-threatening photography.

Step 2: Take a small camera with you instead of a large one. Having a camera with a
large lens on it projects the appearance that you are a professional photographer
and the subject may think they are going to end up on a billboard or commercial
somewhere. A small camera projects that you are more of a hobbyist who is learning
photography as a craft and are looking to increase your skill level as opposed to
using someones picture to make money.
Step 3: When you have spotted the person in public that you want to photograph it
is time to approach them. When approaching the subject do not come at them
directly. By coming at your subject directly it is more confrontational. Approaching
from the side is more non-threatening.
Step 4: Approach the person from the side and make sure you stay at least one
arms length away from the person you want to photograph to ensure that you have
enough personal space between you and the subject. Personal space is the area
around a person and their comfort level of just how close they want to be to other
people. By standing at least one arms length away from your subject you are at a
safe distance not to violate their personal space.
Step 5: If you make eye contact with your subject the first thing you should do is
show a warm smile. By smiling first you are showing your subject that you are not
threatening and this will be a pleasant experience from the beginning.
Step 6: If you cannot make eye contact you can use the verbal expression: Excuse
me can I talk to you for a minute? If the subject stops you should immediately smile
again to let your subject know that this is a positive exchange. Do not forgot the
personal space rule and maintain one arms length away from your subject to
respect personal space.
Step 7: If the subject does not stop let the subject keep on going and move on to
another subject. If a person is in a hurry to get somewhere they may not have time
to stop and chat and model.
Step 8: If the subject does stop use the verbal expression: Excuse me This opening
dialogue is a very polite way to get the attention of someone and have them focus on
what you are going to say.
Step 9: This is your opportunity to ask your subject if it is ok to take a photograph of
them. Your choice of words should be: Is it ok if I take your photograph?
Step 10: After you have asked your subject if you can take their photograph, identify
yourself as a street photographer and explain that you like to take pictures as a
hobby and if they give permission their photo will not be used in public or in an
advertisement. Explain that you find them interesting or like something they are
wearing. This makes a person feel better about the experience and why you have
chosen them to photograph.

Step 11: If the subject agrees to have their photograph taken, take the picture. If
they say no, thank them anyway for their time and smile again and let them go about
their business.
Step 12: After taking the photo for people who agree, thank them and let them
know where they can see their photo by having a card with an e-mail address so
they may receive a copy. This will make the subject feel more connected to the
photographer. Say goodbye with a smile and shake their hands as a symbol of
goodwill and move on to your next subject!
Reflecting on this assignment I must say that I found it to be very interesting. Once I
came up with the topic I had no idea what the steps would be in my head for the
instructions. Once I began writing step one all of these underlying expected social
behaviors came out on to my word processor without thinking. I connected this
experience to the notion of culture as a problem solving method. In the formation of
my instructions I found guidance from my culture like Lustig & Koester (2012)
illustrate. My behavior as a street photographer is affected by my culture and it
helps me navigate through situations of people being rude to me when I take
pictures and when people are nice to me.
With my example of taking a strangers photo, this type of behavior is definitely not
mainstream but does happen with both pleasing and not so pleasing results. If
something goes wrong by making the person upset there is usually no more of a
consequence of being told off or witnessing the person being annoyed. The values
that might be underlying within this subject could be that everyone has a right to
privacy and photographing them even in public is not normal. The law states that a
person can be photographed in a public place even if they do not give permission.
We gain culture and create it through how we interact with others and what we
consider acceptable and not acceptable.
When considering the models in Unit 1 I have to say that with my photography
example I see a connection to Hofstede (1991) Onion model. The contents of my
instructions can be peeled layer by layer with the rituals I used with interaction. By
using these rituals I am showing respect and acceptable ways of interaction to try
and get my subject to agree to a photograph. The heroes layer is found in
researching other photographers and study how they are successful with
interaction. The use of symbols can also be connected to using a small camera that is
not threatening, having a clean and tidy appearance making me less menacing, and
the explanation of what I am going to do with their photo. This assignment was very
enjoyable and allowed me to really unpack the material in a meaningful way.