Street Photography Ethics

Street Portrait Photography is my passion.

I love stepping out with my camera, wondering who I might meet on my travels, and what photos I’ll make along the way.

My vocation is portrait photography, and the street provides so many interesting subjects.

The opportunity to learn about people, a snippet of their lives is what motivates me to keep stepping out.

When the portraits are downloaded, it’s another opportunity for me to gaze upon the subject, recall our conversation and imagine more …

This is a short list of what is important to me in my craft of Street Portrait Photography.



I try to be respectful of people and their desire to be photographed. For example when I’m shooting candid portraits without the persons permission, I’m watchful for body language. A body stiffening / hiding the face / angry hand gestures and harsh words is a signal to me of their discomfort and I move on.

People eating – do you want to be photographed chewing your food? I think not. This is a no-go zone for me.

A final note on respect, if I take a photo that is awkward or unflattering I won’t produce it, and will delete the file.


I learned a very valuable lesson many years ago, arriving in Paris there was a group of street people camped out. I lifted my cell-phone to take a photo, and one of the group started cursing and threw an empty bottle (I imagine he’d not waste a drop of good liquor on a stranger) toward me.

I try to keep my lens away from Street People.


When asking for permission from a person I’ll start a dialogue, enquire about what it is they’re doing, where they’re from, their name etc.. However, this can be a challenge when we don’t share a common language. Gesturing sometimes gets us through.


When communication works and I’m able to get a contact – phone number or email address I’m very grateful. It makes me happy to be able to send through a digital copy of their photo.

I will also print photos and deliver them should I know the person’s regular hang out space.


Generally I don’t take photographs of children, unless I have the permission from a caregiver to take the photograph. However, I don’t seek out children to photograph.


The street is full of characters, a good laugh is easy to find.

Street portrait kuala lumpur
Soon – Pasar Seni – Kuala Lumpur
Lecia camera street photography
Soon’s camera – Uncle was trying to fix the flash mount
vendor key repair kuala lumpur
Uncle – repair shop – Pasar Seni – Kuala Lumpur

About Tahnia Roberts

Tahnia is a Kuala Lumpur based photographer, and she loves telling stories with photography. She contributes to several platforms for photography and arts, and has received acknowledgement from FWA Photo and other publications on several occasions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *