Thursday, October 15, 2009

Be careful, even with consent you might get busted...

We have been talking a lot about the ethics of taking photographs in public in Japan, perhaps too much. Now it seems many of my students are afraid to take pictures of people. The following story certainly won't help matters...

Story from Japan Today, 10/15/09:

Taxi driver, woman arrested for making up-skirt videos in Osaka park

Police on Wednesday arrested a Kyoto taxi driver and his female companion on charges of creating a public nuisance after they were caught making up-skirt videos on a slide in a park in Osaka’s Minato Ward.

According to police, Isao Tanabe, 38, and Maiji Kurozawa, 25, were spotted by a passerby at about 11 a.m. Kurozawa was flashing her underwear while Tanabe was filming it. The passerby, a woman, called police.

Officers arrived on the scene and questioned the pair. The two told police they met via the Internet, and that Tanabe paid Kurozawa 10,000 yen to pose for the video. Tanabe was quoted by police as saying, “It’s been a passion of mine to film women’s underwear, and I have done it before.”

The park is located in a residential area.

OK, so this is an extreme case. But the point is that the taxi driver asked for permission to take photos of the woman. And she said yes. In class I didn't mean to scare my students away from photographing people by introducing a set of guidelines, rather I hoped to encourage them to interact with people. Get their permission to take their photograph. Talk with them. Get useful information. This is called fieldwork. Respecting people and their privacy and following ethical guidelines does not mean avoiding people altogether. As some of our readings have suggested, the camera forces us to be out their and open with the people we study. It forces collaboration. This is an important contribution that visual methods give to the discipline of anthropology.

1 comment:

Alfie Goodrich said...

I guess it kind of depend what sorts of photos you are asking permission to take. Personally, although I shoot lots of pics of people here in Tokyo, none of them are o ladies undies and if I were to do that? would be in a studio and not in a public place.

Plus, it doesn't say in this article whether the consent was written or verbal. Written is obviously always best.