A Tragic Story of Caution for Street Photographers

Street photographers are notorious for producing gritty, candid pictures of daily life in urban locales. Unfortunately, taking photos of strangers can sometimes incite unpredictable aggression and even violence.

Twenty-three-year-old Christine Calderon was fatally stabbed on June 18th after taking a cell phone picture of panhandlers holding up cardboard signs in Hollywood. The accused perpetrators are three transients, who apparently demanded payment for the photo. Alleged reports say that when Calderon refused to pay, she was attacked on the crowded sidewalk near the Walk of Fame. Learn the details of the story by watching the following report:

Below is the photo that led to this tragedy:


With some exceptions, United States law generally allows for photographers to take pictures freely in public spaces without consent from subjects. However, safety precautions should always be taken to avoid unnecessary conflict between you and the people you choose to photograph.

Safety Tips for Street Photographers

  1. Ask permission. It never hurts to approach a subject before taking a photograph. While some of the spontaneity may be lost, you are eliminating the chance of offending someone on the street.
  2. Go out in a group. There is often safety in numbers. Find a friend or two to join you on your photo walk.
  3. Share something with your subject. Bring photos of your work to reassure your subjects about how your photos will be used. Offer a small payment, if appropriate. Take down the person’s contact information so you can send them the photo.
  4. Be respectful. Honor a reasonable expectation of privacy. Refrain from taking photographs of people who communicate that they do not want a photo taken. While it may be within your legal rights to take the photo, decide whether or not a photo of someone who does not want to be photographed is worth the risk of a verbal or physical confrontation.

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