I’ve continued thinking a lot about creep shots – partly, because you keep commenting on my previous posts on the subject; partly because I miss taking them; and partly because, well, because “creep shots” turns up among my readers’ Google queries leading here more than any other search term. Seriously. (Ed. note: No longer true. Nowadays, the top search term leading readers to me is “bratty subs” – 8/6/2020)
To bring you up to speed:
1) A “creep shot” is a surreptitiously taken photograph of an unwitting subject, usually an attractive, or attractively dressed, woman.
2) I used to enjoy taking them, but mused here about the creepiness of doing so.
3) In the wake of the discussion that went on in the comments, I decided not to take them any more, except of those who explicitly encourage me to do so. This did NOT reflect a conclusion that they’re categorically “bad” – only that, having established this public persona, with relationships with my readers that I value, I would stop – in service of that persona, those relationships. And, I replaced my previous photographic creep shots with verbal paeans.
There. Now you’re up to speed.
Now, for some additional thoughts:
- To reiterate a prior point, there is a bit of magical thinking going on in people’s objections to creep shots, a vestigial sense that the taking of a photograph involves the taking of something from its subject.
- There’s something else going on: the taker of a creep shot is asserting/exerting power over his (yes, his) subject. He’s taking something without asking. This is an interesting intellectual point, because what is he really taking? (In economic terms, what he’s taking is both non-rival and non-exclusive – like breathing air, my doing it costs no one else anything.) But re: power, when I take your picture without your knowledge, I’m asserting my power to do so. And regardless of whether your resultant feeling of violation is intellectually justifiable or not, when I take the picture in spite of my knowledge you might have such a feeling if you knew, I’m being, at a minimum, disrespectful of, inconsiderate of, your feelings. Probably worse.
- One commenter intelligently, and, I think, correctly, pointed out that photographers have a “right” to take creep shots. I agree with this. I think, though, that the fact that when taking creep shots, photographers rarely ask permission should be a bit of a tell that something untoward is going on. If it’s not objectionable, then why not ask?
I have the right to do all sorts of things that it’s unwise, or rude, or even cruel, to do. The fact that I may well have the “right” to snap a furtive picture with my phone of your (truly awesome) ass as you walk down the street doesn’t mean it’s cool if I do.
- There’s a whole sub-genre of creep shots which feature the photographer getting caught in the act, the subject’s facial expression as she realizes she’s being photographed. These, too, are a bit of a tell that something is wrong.
- Finally, there’s the reaction of the photographer himself when caught: I can’t speak for others, but the few times I was caught, I was not at my best. My behavior typically was denial – “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Any time I find myself lying is a good time to question just what it is I’m doing.
So I don’t know that I have a “conclusion,” beyond the more developed sense that creep shots are inconsiderate, rude, creepy. Wrong? I’m not sure. But as much as I miss taking them, the occasional verbal creep shot I’ve been posting is as close as I’ll be coming, for the time being.
Thanks for accompanying me on this thought journey. Your thoughts continue to be welcome.