I’m coming late to the Google Streetview debate in Germany. I still can’t get my head around it. As a photographer, there’s further involvement that goes beyond being in disbelief that so many of my countrymen see a photo of their place of residence as a privacy problem. Upon request, their facade is being pixelated. They extend their private space into the public space. Ironically, these are often houses or flats that present an orderly, bourgeois image to society. There really is nothing to hide there. Anyway, Google’s willingness to comply with their wishes contrasts with “panorama liberty”, a legal concept that allows photos of public space without consent of the owners of the multiple objects therein.
It so happens that photos of public space and the “Weichbild” of east german towns is one of my current projects. Even before the Google Streetview fiasco, but more and more often now, I’m asked by local residents “What are you doing there?” when I’m setting up my tripod as above. Often with a tone of indignation. Of course, one should remain calm and perhaps use the occasion to hand over a business card or show some examples. But lately, patience getting thin, I respond: “Oh, there are some houses pixelated in that row. I’m doing the reuptake photos.” Irony is lost on some, though.