Question: I take a lot of random photos every day, people included. I know the correct thing is probably to ask before taking someone’s photo, but that tends to ruin the moment. What’s the lowdown here these days?
Answer: The lines are blurry. Even though we feel comfortable blasting pictures of ourselves all over the internet, the thought of someone capturing our likeness and posting it to their blog as a “Don’t” is unsettling. It’s easy to snap people with an iPhone in passing, which is creepily paparazzi-esque. The joys and hazards of living in the modern world, I suppose; we all think we’re special, but we also want to hold on to our anonymity in some cases.
So let’s fall back on that old chestnut: What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em. If your artsy shots can be taken without the subject knowing that you’re doing so, go ahead. Just don’t be a douche and post embarrassing pictures of people that you're hoping will go viral.
If, however, it’s going to be pretty obvious to someone that you’re snapping their picture, then you should ask. It will lessen the odds of you getting into a fist fight and some people may even find it flattering. Just don’t ask anyone to say “Cheese”.