Le Bar du la rue Buci (Again)

bar BuciIn Paris exists my favorite bar— Le Bar du la rue Buci. I don’t know why I like it so much but I do. It’s where I met Francoise 5 years ago as she went from bar to bar with her suitcase full of pens, jewelery, and cigarette lighters. It lies right in the middle of the left bank scene at an intersection of small streets lined by bars and cafe’s. Its cosy, and it allows the visitor to Paris to experience the one thing that all Parisiens enjoy—people watching. All you have to do is walk in, find an empty seat facing the street and sit down. In about twenty minutes, a waiter comes over and asks you what you want and he returns about twenty minutes later with your drinks. For the next hour or two you just hang out and watch the street, or the people at the next table. That’s what the picture is of.

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  1. It’s very nice to see that you love Paris and taking street pictures 🙂

    I’m French, always have lived here, and it’s true that since laws have been introduced to protect people’s right to their pictures (droit a l’image it’s called) there has been a lot of articles about it.

    You can take shots of people in the street because it’s a public space, as long as you don’t specifically take one person in picture, and no one else (large shots are okay, shooting just one person opens the right to the “droit a l’image”).

    The law has been designed because of two things : famous people that wanted their privacy protected. Sure, they’re public figures, but when they’re not doing their work like acting or being a politician, they want to have their private life : they don’t want to see their baby’s of children picture end on Internet or elsewhere because you don’t know what your kid will become later in life, and you want to protect the kid by not having someone, someday later, pull out a pic of the child or kid which could be annoying or become a problem for the child become adult). The second reason was because we had a few lawsuits of people having taken their pictures while manifesting, and some people ended up with their faces yelling in front of some newspapers, and some didn’t like it because it gave them a lot of trouble later. Again, the law here tries to protect not the context of the picture, but the future : later, 10 years or more from now, this person might get into trouble in his/her professional life because of a pic taken while being under 20 and manifesting for some right in the street.

    What judges have said for years is that when you’re in a public space, your picture can be taken. It must not be covert. So the photographer must not be trying to hide, but shoot in plain sight. You must take the whole street or place in your shoot, but not specifically aim someone and remove everything around one person (in this case, is was polite to ask if you could). The law came a few years later because it had become a problem not seen before : people suing photographers or newspapers and magazines, and judges very oten found they only did this not to protect their privacy, but to make money. They thought the press was making money by exploiting their pictures, and they wanted a part of it.

    Street photography has become somewhat difficult, because people now think the droit a l’image always applies. It only applies if the picture is posted on Internet or used somewhere else (a publication for example). But if you take pictures for your own use, this law does not apply. The problem is people see in magazines and the TV stars suing on the basis of this law, and almost everyone wrongly thinks that the droit a l’image protects them from anyone taking a picture of them in a public space. If you’re on a public space, someone taking a picture of the whole place has nothing to ask you, you have no right here… And most people won’t even understand when you try to explain this to them.

    Street photography has become sometimes so annoying with all those people that think they know the law that most of my friends shoot from the hip or in a discrete way (ex. setting the camera on a 2 or 10 sec delay and putting it on the table, takes the pic, and no one sees you taking the pic). In the Metro for example, almost every street photographer has to do covert photography (I have to admit that in the Metro, it is forbidden to takes pictures, so people should not expect to be taken in pic there).

    I have a few friends that know I do street photography. 99 % of the time, I don’t post the pictures even on Internet or anywhere else. This work is not for me, but for future generations. In 50 or 100 years, they’ll be able to see people going around, living their lives. They’ll be amazed like we are when seeing pics of the 1900’s of Paris and its streets and people. This is a work we do for future generations, street photography. And even when I explain to my friends, they don’t want to understand. They tell me : if anyone takes a picture and I’m in it, the law Droit a l’image protects me. I have to explain them they’re wrong : if the pic is not used later in anything public, and if the pic was a large shot taken, they have no right. They tell me : how do I know the pic won’t be used ? Well you don’t. And usually, you don’t go to extreme lengths and believe every photographer on the street is there to make money from shots of you : come back to reality, you really are not… paparazzi material (I have to be blunt with them but that’s the only think that works). Even when I explain them the law, they keep thinking that if any photographer takes a picture of them, they can act or even take the camera and break it on the floor. To this I explain to them that the photographer will assault them in Legitime defense, and sue them. Because they attacked the photographer and because he acted in Legitime defense (to defend itself) not only the photographer will sue and win, but they won’t be able to sue in return even if the photographer breaks them a bone because he was acting for defense (so you’re gonna break a camera, end your face broken and pissing blood, and being sued by the photographer for assault + camera’s value and won’t be able to sue back because you’re the initial assaulter).

    The truth is people are stupid. They don’t know the law, believe they do, and invent rights they don’t have. And when explained to them, they think they’ll react with violence and try to break the camera, which usually they won’t because the guy taking pictures might be twice their size, twice their body weight and they’ll just shut the fuck up. I take pictures of the street and if people in it don’t want to be in the picture, if they ask politely I will take another shot, with a smile (and after a few moments the person will come back and ask to be in the picture and i’ll email one copy to them) and if they’re aggressive, I put the camera away, won’t let them see the pics, explain the law to them and if they become aggressive, I tell them to try and that I’m gonna break them in pieces, then sue them and because I’ll be acting in self-defense they won’t be able to sue back in return. Being quite big and not looking friendly, they usually shut the fuck up and leave.

    I respect the law and people’s right. But any moron trying to put out an invented law out of his ass and being stupid will be treated like the moren he or she is. Street photography has to be defended, for future generations and historians. And trust me : Parisians are for most of them morons. Even when they speak of “rights” all they’re interested in is money.


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