German street photographer Robin Schimko runs a YouTube channel about photography with over 40,000 subscribers. One of his favorite genres is so-called street photography – the English term “street photography” is much more common.
You grab a camera and capture moments of everyday life that you find out on the streets. Today’s story shows that this can sometimes lead to conflicts.
The attack occurred last year in Melbourne, Australia. The weather was perfect for grabbing the camera and snapping pictures – so Schimko did just that.
With the Leica M6 and a DJI Osmo Pocket 2, which constantly records his photo walks, he goes in search of special moments.
As he walks past the Yarra River, he takes a photo of it and the people who were sitting there. Just a few moments later, a voice stops him, calling after him and asking him to stop.
The man claims that taking photos of strangers is illegal. However, Schimko does not describe the man as aggressive, but rather nervous, which seemed strange to him.
The German YouTuber replies that he knows his rights and that taking photos of strangers in public places is legal in Australia (and he is right).
The man continued, arguing that he can claim money from Shimko for the picture. The YouTuber realizes that the man’s main concern is money – so he simply stalks off towards a security guard.
The angry man followed him and threatened what he called “civil arrest.” The security guard had already noticed the conversation and slowly made his way to the two men.
When Schimko refused to hand over his expensive camera to the other man so that he could delete the image, which would not be possible anyway since the Leica M6 is a film camera, he attacked him and threw him to the ground. He shouted loudly “Civil arrest!”
The security officer intervened and reprimanded the attacker, saying that Shimko is allowed to take photos in public places. The attacker didn’t believe that and threatened to call the police because the officer was helping with a crime.
He then stalked away angrily. He didn’t call the police. Schimko refrained from filing a complaint.
Link to YouTube content
What is the legal situation in Germany?
Legal hurdles: Street photography is an exciting genre of photography, but it also brings with it some legal challenges – especially here in Germany. While Schimko was certainly in the right when he took photos in Melbourne, there are a few things that need to be taken into account here.
Basically, the so-called freedom of panorama applies in Germany. This means that it is permitted to take photos of works that are permanently located on public paths, streets or squares.
These can be, for example, buildings, monuments or works of art. However, you must maintain the perspective of a pedestrian on the street and must not use any aids such as drones or cranes.
People may be depicted: People may also be depicted in such photos, as long as they only appear as accessories. This means that they do not significantly influence or change the message or character of the image. Then no written consent is necessary from everyone pictured if you want to publish such pictures.
However, if you take a photo in which a person is the main subject of the picture or plays a special role, you need the person’s written consent for publication. This also applies if the person has been cut out of the image or enlarged.
Right to your own image: Finally, everyone in Germany has the right to their own image. This means that a person being photographed may ask the street photographer to delete an image taken or to prohibit taking or distributing it. This is especially true if the person was photographed in intimate or embarrassing situations or if they were in a private sphere.
However, you can read about how to take photos without any electronics here:
Why did I forego a digital camera for my vacation?
How do you feel about the topic? Did the YouTuber behave correctly here? How would you have reacted in such a situation? Do you see street photography as problematic? Or is it okay as long as people’s personal rights are not violated? Have you perhaps already been in such a situation yourself? As always, write us your experiences and opinions in the comments!