Last weekend while home in Canberra I went to the Floriade Tulip Festival. An annual event in the Canberra calendar, my friends and I were eager to attend and see the same things we see every year… flowers, flowers, more flowers oh and a gnome…

Bush, E., 2016. Floriade. [photograph] (Eliza Bush’s own private collection)

When I was younger the festival often involved making your way around the Commonwealth Park trying to find clues for a treasure map. Children with bright smiles and happy families walked joyously around enjoying the moments of blissful spring. Now there are still smiles and happiness but the linger of mobile technology hovers and distracts from the views around us.

Walking around, I was enjoying the nice weather that Canberra hasnt had in a while. I turned around to make a comment to my friends and saw that they were on their phones. I said something and noticed they were oblivious to what was happening in the moment.

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Bush, E., 2016. Floriade. [photograph] (Eliza Bush’s own private collection)

“Hold on one sec guys,” I warned them as I also pulled out my phone to take a quick snap of them. The 5 girls walked in a line all on their phones texting people that were in a different state, scrolling through facebook and instagram and even taking a photo of me! Though legally, according to the Art’s Law Information Sheet, I can take photos of people in a public place without their permission, I still deemed it ethically important to let the subjects of my photography know what I was doing. It just seems like common curtesy to say hey I am taking a photo of you and I am going to post it somewhere with the intent of using it for an educational purpose.

To what extent can we have control over what is placed in the public sphere?

I think that in todays society there is little room for anonymity in the public and private media sphere. We are constantly online creating content through Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram ect, taking photos and tagging our locations. There is no guessing how many times you’ve been in the background of another persons facebook post or their instagram image. I think it is important now we dont protest the appearance of ourselves in the public sphere and embrace the fact that we are existing within it.

It is understandable that certain safeguards are in effect to protect the innocency of young children and misrepresentation. In enthographic research it is important to understand the way we interact with eachother in our current digital world, to know the reasoning of what we do, how we do it and why that is.

I would definitely love to know your opinions on photography in the public sphere. Do you believe that its okay to photograph and distribute images of strangers? Let me know your thoughts.

 

Until next time,

Eliza x

 

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