You Can't be Private in Public

The person whose legs and hand are visible in this photo from the French Quarter is in public view and has made no effort conceal herself (assuming it’s a woman) from public view. Stated differently, she has no reasonable expectation of privacy.

a person sitting on a window ledge while smoking with feet on the sidewalk amid construction scaffolding
smoke break in the French Quarter

I state this because too many people have put forth the idea that a person in a public space, clearly visible to anyone nearby, has a right to privacy from photography.

A street musician, of which we have way too many in New Orleans, has the right to refuse to play for a photographer unless compensated. A person who has erected some type of shelter in a public space and concealed himself or herself within it has a right to expect photographers to leave them undisturbed.

I’ll state it another way: The space you’re in is either public or private but it can’t be both and if you’re in a public space when I’m around with my camera you can look away, run away, flip me off, make an ugly face, and call me mean names but you can’t demand privacy that doesn’t exist.


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