GDPR & Photography

And now for something a little dry, but relevant for Photographers who wish to freelance.  This post is part of the DMU summer blog and primarily intended for that audience.  I thought I’d share it to my followers here.. What do you think about GDPR and Photography?

If, like me you’re receiving a lot of emails about the new General Data Protection Regulations you should be aware that data laws are changing across the EU.  This is good news for most of us because it helps to unsubscribe from junk emails.

However, you should be aware of your obligations for any clients you engage with, how you use their data, what your privacy notice should say on your website, when you can and can’t contact them and what to say if they ask you to delete their information (including photographs).

In my regular job, I’m an office administrator and I’m the ‘Data Controller’ for our organisation.  I’ve had training on GDPR and implemented these changes in a health care office environment.  I’m not providing a full run down on GDPR here, but the same information can apply to us as we work as a freelance photographers.

In short, GDPR replaces the Data Protection Act and has new rules for personal data.  Personal data can be anything which can identify someone and used to be defined as Name, Address, Phone Numbers, Email Addresses etc..  This data (which can identify someone) is now called ‘Special Category Data’ and includes photographs, moving film, someone’s hair colour, someone’s political beliefs etc..

As photographers, we all hold special category data in the form of photographs and contact information for our clients.  We may wish to use their photos on our websites to help promote our services.  In this case, under GDPR, we must inform our clientele that we will only hold their information for the correct reasons.  In most cases, we will have their consent because they have signed a model release form.

New rules around marketing also apply.  If you already have a mailing list you use to market yourself, you need to ask permission (again) to use their email address, just like the GDPR emails we’ve all been receiving.

I contacted my clients today with the following self-explanatory information

I hope this note finds you well, I’m contacting you now because we have exchanged emails in the past and I’ve provided photo or video work for you.  I’ve never sent newsletters, nor do I use your information for marketing.  I’m simply a freelance photographer.  Apologies if this appears to be spam. I promise you are not on any mailing lists or database

Under the new GDPR rules, I need your permission to continue contacting you if I ever market myself in the future, which is something I intend to do. 

If you don’t want me to contact you again, please just ignore this email and I’ll delete your details from my address book.  Otherwise, please drop me a quick note to say it’s ok.

If you use a website for your commercial work, under GDPR, you need to have a privacy policy online which states what you are using client’s personal information for.  Different organisations will have different privacy policies, depending on the nature of and needs of their business.  There’s not many freelance photographer examples around so I’ve created my own.  It’s available here.

Under GDPR, your clientele have the right to request that you delete their information.  In practical terms, this normally means contacting a company and request your contact details be removed from their database or even deleting all mention of you from their records.  (This is new under GDPR).  So what then if a client asks you to delete photographs you have of them?

Your photographs of them is special category data because it can identify them however, your photographs are also your own intellectual property and they are essential to you in the running of your business. For that reason, there are lots of scenarios in which you should be able to cite a legitimate interest as a basis for storing and using photographs of people.  This is important for us photographers as we may publish their image within our art, or to help sell our services.

These are examples of changing laws that we should know about.  We’re on a photography and video course, not a data protection course.  However changes in the business environment will have an impact on our photography work.  I hope, that providing these examples and templates, we can all be more efficient photographers and understand not only the creative, fun side of our practice but to understand our responsibilities in a work place environment.  Thanks for reading, and if you have any GDPR questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.

The Garden of Winter

In this winter garden
Everything is silent.
Still ground, sleeping trees,
Frozen in space, frozen in time.

The water is calm
And as black as the night
Sparkling and cold
Yet un-barren.

Blue skin
Cold eyes look up
And search the tree-line
Thin layers of frost
Cover and seal my lips

In this garden of winter
I am the silence,
The lack of sound
Hushed whispers
And lonely footsteps

In this white garden
I make new friends
Beautiful and cold.
Will cry their life away
Until they are no more
Spilled on to the grass

In this garden of cold,
Nothing rules here
Except for frost and ice
The coldness and winds
Will never change.

Sound is still
And time is broken.


The Reaper


As I slept that night I had no idea The Reaper was in my house. I remember locking the doors and windows so I don’t know how he got in. Maybe he slipped through while I wasn’t looking. At this stage of my life, I didn’t believe in Reaper’s so it didn’t occur to me to check if we had one in the house.

So I lay asleep that night, cosy and comfortable in my bed, blissfully unaware there was a Reaper in my home and completely unaware that I had seen my father for the last time.

Dawn breaks.

Several days and nights come and go but I don’t remember them. I can’t remember much of what happened, I will not remember, I don’t remember, I do not want to remember what happened.

So it’s just me now, a wreckage in the modern world. Every and every morning begins with the realisation that he’s gone.


He’ll never be there to watch me become the man I’ll eventually become. He’ll never know me, who I’ll be after I’ve finished growing up.

I’m supposed to say goodbye.

How do you say goodbye?

Do I hold his hands? Do I cuddle him? Do I sit with him and drink a cup of tea? Do I say everything I never did but always wanted to? Do I tell him I love him and I want him back or do I say nothing?

If I never say goodbye, he can’t really be gone.

The Reaper made a mistake.


A Decisive Moment

A Decisive Moment
Everything I’ve lost
Everyone I’ve hurt
All the times I lied
All the moments wasted
All the things I’ve done
All the people I wronged
All the times I hushed
All the moments wasted
All I never changed
All the dreams I had
All the things I could change
I would change them
I would make right what I’ve done wrong
I’d change how the future becomes
I’d take hold of my enemies, love their obscenities
I’d kiss them, (then leave them like lovers who’ve gone)
And now the moment has come…

The problem with Ren Hang’s book

The problem with Ren Hang’s latest book, is that it’s so good! – It’s almost exclusively photographs and are the last set authorized by Ren Hang himself.  There will never be any more in this vein.  I’ve only sampled a few pages because when I get to the end, it’s the end.

So I read with caution and I promise not to ‘over excite’ myself with new material. I will learn to read with antici…

…pation and view just a few pages every and now and then and appreciate his work for longer.

Visit his website, ( put his name in every search engine you come across and don’t forget to look at his beautiful, playful and innocent yet evocative, constructed and dirty photographs.


Find me online:

Full Length Photography Documentaries

Documentary Image

There are plenty of photography documentaries available online which span different genres, period in time and subject and I enjoy it when I find relevant, feature length and interesting films, which help to educate as a change from books or blogs.

When I’ve finished watching a documentary I’ve particularly enjoyed, I’ll update this post with a link to the video. (There’s a twitter thread too). As of 28th August there’s 15 videos around 10 hours.

If you know people who aren’t into photography as much you are, and would like to introduce them to your passion, you could send them your favourite from this list as an introduction to the Photograph as Art.

Born from Science and Art, what follows are stories of imagination, of playing with light and technology or changing worlds and societies. Without photographs, would we see the struggles of marginalized people, perceived by the general populace as ugly, outcast or irrelevant?

Without photography, how would we illustrate issues around death, sex, mental health, drugs, sexuality and abuse?

Do you simply enjoy pictures or are you intrigued at, or maybe excited at the reasons behind why people are compelled to create and share photographs? Are you genuinely interested and surprised with other peoples work?

We take photographs, we read about photographs, we read about people taking and reading about photographs and we want to know and understand more about photographs. How very meta.

Take some time out from your reading, delve into these documentaries instead. These videos highlight our interest, demonstrate why we enjoy what we do, explores the craftsmanship of some of the great photographers while showing how diverse our photography community is.

What’s missing? Do you have a favourite? Is it online? – Why should we watch it? – Please let us know!

Ren Hang: The Art of Taboo

Gregory Crewdson’s Photography Capturing a Movie Frame

William Eggleston Documentary: In The Real World

The Many Lives of William Klein (2012)

Joel Meyerowitz 1981 Street Photography

“Reely and Truly” – A Film By Tyrone Lebon

A Day in The Life of Andy Warhol

Robert Mapplethorpe

Vile Bodies Part 1 – Naked

The Wizard of Photography (George Eastman ‘the Man who created Kodak’ documentary). Part 1 below, be sure to watch Part 2 and Part 3


Find me online:

Without My Eye

Without The Eye

Without my eye I’m in the gutter
And without my mind I cannot see
Pick up the lens and press the shutter
Shoot what I love, what I perceive

Without the heart there is no story
And without the story I’m horrified
My imagination, my laboratory
Then work it over, ’till I’m satisfied

Before I came, I was nothing
And without production I can’t live
I show the world I amount to something
This is my work, my narrative

I’ve woken up, I’m here forever
And I do these cycles all the time
Explained for you, it’s for my pleasure
That’s why I wrote this dirty rhyme!

Why do you even try to stop me?
From doing things I need to do?
Get out the way of this tsunami
And give me credit when its due

Every one of my creations
They are something to behold
No fears or doubts, nor hesitations
I’m breaking through my threshold.


Find me online:


Why Photography?

Road to nowhere
Road to Nowhere by Tom Robson

Entitled ‘My Life Is About To Change‘ the last meaningful article here is over 5 months ago.  It’s an excitable announcement that I’m going to university to study Photography & Video suggesting I was about to start sharing ideas, work and articles as I begin my degree.

Like many people, I get lazy.  I read about photography, I generate ideas for my own photo projects and I’m excited that I’m starting university soon. In the past 5 months though, when it comes to actually taking photographs or conducting research, or writing about photography, I’m not so good.  I’m not particularly skilled at writing, (in fact, I’m having an assessment soon to determine if I’m dyslexic) which is why I need to do this more and do it online in the open.

I’d love to promise a worthwhile and meaningful photo essay once a week, I’d love to share every useful and decent article or book I read.  I’d love to write more and share my research.  I want to do these things, but I’m no good at the process or routine of it – it doesn’t make any sense, does it? – All of this will become automatic in a couple of months, so I’m trying to give myself a head start, share more and try to do this more regularly.

Where do I start? – I guess the most obvious question is…

Why Photography?

Photography isn’t about holding a camera, taking a picture and sharing photos, that’s what we all do every day with our smartphones.  Most of us today assume the the purpose of taking photos is to share them on social media, whether or not they are faked selfies or emotional acts of expression.  For the most part, the cameras which most of us carry every day are used to take photographs.  But there is more to photography that this, we create photographs.

This is an important distinction because photographs are created for different purposes, they are created for art, for documentary reasons, for memories, for sharing on social media, to sell products, to take photographs of dead babies, the list goes on and on.

What is always evident is that photographs are created for a reason and I’m interested in the reasons behind the photographs.  This is why I can look at photographs of tower blocks or people pushed up against windows as works of art.

Maternal Line

Olive Cotton 2017 winning work: Maternal Line by Justine Varga.

Justine Varga caused outrage when she won $20,000 in a portraiture competition with her work ‘Maternal Line’.  In her photograph, she captures her grandmother’s portrait.

The controversy appears to stem from people being offended that her portrait did not conform to their idea of what a portrait is.  Photography is subjective, it can mean different things to people.

A photographic portrait isn’t necessarily the image of a person.  Isn’t it better when the photograph is a real portrayal of the person? – Anyone can snap a photo, some people take great shots, others take great portraits while some really think about how to portray an individual using photographic technology.

People are upset because they were expecting the winning photograph to be an image of a person, they may look at Varga’s work and say “my 4 year could have done that” but you know what, your 4 year old didn’t, and neither did you!

As Justine Varga’s grandmother was testing pens on a sheet of paper, she noticed the action and wanted to ‘capture’ a portrait of her Gran doing this.  With so many photographs (or portraits) already, she decided to explore and capture the essence of her Gran, rather than a traditional photograph.  She asked her grandmother to test her pens on a 4×5 negative and after it was developed, you see her scribes, her movements, an imprint of her hand and even some saliva stains.

  • Is it a photo? Yes, a negative film with an imprint was developed and printed in colour.
  • Is it a portrayal of someone? Yes, there is a likeness of someone together with evidence of their DNA.
  • Is it a traditional portrait? No, it violates everything we have come to expect from traditional portraiture photography.

By these definitions, Maternal Line is a portrait of Justine Varga’s grandmother.  The sense of a traditional portrait is replaced by a different sense of a portrait, that doesn’t make it any less of a portrait.  Instead, the photograph has pushed the boundary between what is ordinary and what is unexpected, it has made people talk about what a photograph is and further advances Photography as Art (whether people like it or not)!


Aside from Photography as Art, (or any visual representation) the nature of photography is interesting and in this example we can explore the connections between different acts of picture making and how we are connected to it at all times.

Excerpt from Found by Carlos Pacheco.

In Carlos Pacheco’s ‘Found’ project, photographs found online are matched with CCTV footage of the same time and location which provide an additional recording of the moment the original photograph was taken.  What I find interesting in Pancheco’s example is that people are taking photographs for their own purposes and at some point in the future, a visual artist is linking the CCTV footage to the snapshot.  You have seen a further copy of the original photograph here and you are now, forever connected to the girl on the road.  Work begets work, art begets art, how very meta.

An hour of footage is removed every hour from the Abbey Road CCTV Camera, there is a time limit to how many images can be found and displayed in this manner.  Once the photograph and footage are linked together, a new record is created of the event, stored on a different server before the footage is deleted forever.  Adding to, and extending the life of the original footage.  Big Brother is watching you, but you may not realize that photographers and artists are using the data to create new things.


Heather Whitten

Photograph by Heather Whitten

The mininterpretation (or subjectivity) of photography is another reason why I enjoy the genre.  In November 2014, Photographer Heather Whitten posted a picture to Facebook of a naked child cradled in the lap of a naked man.  It caused controversy, some people saw nude images between children and adults as offensive and others saw a beautiful bond between a sick child and his father.  Facebook even removed the photograph because it didn’t meet the ‘expected standards’

She has also been investigated for child neglect because an online user reported her to local authorities.  Read the full story here and here and here, I don’t believe you’ll find any reason for her to be charged for child neglect.

Other interesting reasons for enjoying photography is understanding where it came from, how it’s impacted our world and what it might be capable of in the future.

This is why I enjoy photography, it’s why I believe there is no such thing as a bad photograph and I hope my own photographic work will transcend what is deemed acceptable by other people’s definitions of the genre.

What does photography mean to you? – Why do you like it? What is the best example of your reasons?


Find me online:

Uni Reading List (Photography & Video)

The 7 (out of 85) books I already own.

Last week, during my Uni interview, I asked for the reading list in advance and they provided.

There’s 85 books in total, 7 I already have and 3 which I can’t find.  I’ve made a public Amazon list so anyone interested can see what’s ahead or use the list for photo and video book recommendations.  Notwithstanding, the library should have most, if not all of these titles.

I’m not the best reader, and I suspect it will take a long time to get through them.  I should learn learn to read faster and find a logical order for them so knowledge can build progressively.