How My 1D Concert Experience Became a Lesson in Ethics

So after a series of failed attempts to take a decent, non-pixelated photograph of the inhabited public spaces I frequent, I thought I would take a look through my photo album instead to find patterns of technology usage. This meant sifting through a series of old baby photos, embarrassing tween selfies and really weird photos of the ground — why the ground? I don’t know.

It wasn’t until I got past all the photos of myself and friends, weird ground snaps and family portraits that I found what I was truly looking for — photographs of a public space occupied by others, many of them random individuals I didn’t actually know. The photos were taken on the 13th of April 2012 — for those not fluent in fan-girl, this was the moment One Direction played at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney for the very first time.

Looking at the photos that would be collecting dust in an album — if of course I didn’t have them saved to my hard-drive, — I found it quite intriguing to think that here I was, sitting in my lounge room looking at photos of people in a crowded space, many of whom I never knew, let alone will never get the chance to see again. Then I began to think about all the times my photograph was taken accidentally, all the times someone had captured my image without my knowledge. It kind of felt creepy, like someone had invaded my personal space while I was completely unaware of it. I don’t like having my picture taken at the best of times — unless I get to control the filter, and whether or not it is shared in the public domain — and despite this, my picture could be living in someone else’s photo library as I type.

I suddenly became ten times more aware of the importance of ethics and the value of care when capturing moments and sharing them with the world. So what makes public space ethnography acceptable? Where do we draw the line between being inquisitive versus being a down right stalker?

I strongly believe that context has a significant role in determining what is ethically sound when it comes to such ethnography. Say for example a street photographer captures an image without a subject’s knowledge, then uses the image for commercial purposes — maybe the photo is used on a public billboard. Is this okay? I personally don’t think so. Another point I want to make is that privacy is a key concern one should address when conducting public space ethnography. I think that if the image of an individual or a group of individuals is clearly identifiable, you should ask for the subject’s consent. I also believe that if a photograph is taken of someone and they later ask for the image to be deleted, this is a reasonable demand. Having empathy when carrying out such research is crucial, and one must consider the implications of their actions. Having discretion and following a moral code of conduct would make the research process far more effective.

Having said that, I share with you the images I unknowingly captured of strangers back in 2012. You will find that some of them are clutching their technological devices — iPhones, cameras and other means of communication — whilst others aren’t.

Crowd For One Direction Concert

Crowd For One Direction Concert

Crowd For One Direction Concert

Crowd For One Direction Concert

Inside the One Direction Concert

Inside the One Direction Concert

I think that these photographs meet the criteria I briefly mentioned, and thus capture public space ethnography and photo-taking in an ethical and morally just manner.



4 thoughts on “How My 1D Concert Experience Became a Lesson in Ethics

  1. Pingback: How My 1D Concert Experience Became a Lesson in Ethics | Passionate About Music

  2. Hey Melissa, I really enjoyed this post! It’s actually crazy to think about how many times I have probably been in photos that complete strangers have taken, especially in a concert setting. On the topic of One Direction, I once actually found a video from a 1D concert on YouTube where I could see myself perfectly for the entirety of the video. It’s a bit strange when you actually see someone else’s image or video and realise that you’re in it, and to them you’re just a random in the background.

    • Hi Tess,
      I am glad you liked it! It is a bit eerie to think anyone could have a picture of you unknowingly! As for the concert video on YouTube, that is crazy! I am surprised you even found it! Thank you for the comment, I appreciate your feedback.

  3. Pingback: A Reflection on My Blogging Experience – It’s Not Just A Novelty | A Blog in the Life of Melissa

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