While travelling I often end-up taking photos that prove to be a cross between a formal portrait and a street photograph. I took this photo in an overly touristy bar in Havana. As touristy as it was, the music was fantastic and the mojitos and cubatas were cold and tasty, a perfect combination to shake the days dust and heat.
I talked with the band for some time and asked if it was okay to snap some pictures. They didn’t mind at all. The band seemed to mind even less when, after taking photos for a while, we bought their CD. If we hadn’t been taking pictures that day, I would have likely bought the CD anyway, they were great.
While I snapped away, the lead singer, the drummer and the guitarist hammed it. The bass player on the other hand, as all bass players playing jazz in Havana tend to be, stayed as cool as a cucumber and just played away. He stared off into the street as he played, occupied, or so it seemed, with something more important than where he was. Perhaps that’s why I focused on him. I digress.
This brings up the point of this post:
Is it okay (ethically) to pay people on the street to take their photos? Is it okay to buy someone’s wears that you wouldn’t otherwise buy just to get a photo or two?
There are at least two streams of thought. First, you shouldn’t pay as that taints the ‘moment;’ commoditizes an innocent interaction. Doing so makes it more difficult for the ‘subject’ of the photo to be real, essentially the subject becomes a posing model. Or, second, you’d pay a model in a studio, so you should also pay someone on the street
What do you think? Is it okay to pay to take someone’s photo on the street?