Photograph of the Day – Smiling Boy

whilst his guardians have a 3 way telephone conversation, Abdul turned and smiled at me

Photographer and visual artist based in Belfast.
I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast.
My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the Arts Council Northern Ireland.
I’ll be blogging about Arts and Culture, primarily in Belfast
check out

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Clearly you know the boys name and therefore got permission to take the pic as you no doubt did with others in the series.
    But without being in any way snarky about it, Im not totally at ease with publishing pics of kids on the Internet or indeed anywhere.
    I have grandsons that I will be no doubt taking into Belfast weekly during the summer.
    Is there an ethos to it?
    Indeed even the pics of adults just walking around Belfast. At what point do we become “public property” so to speak. I can understand it if I was doing something “interesting” but is there a point where I cease to be a private person with the right not to be photographed?

  • joeCanuck

    I was going to ask MP where the pic was taken but, reading your concerns, I decided against it.
    It is interesting to see people from afar (presumably) on the street in Belfast. It was rare in the 60s and 70s when I lived there.

  • Clanky

    FJH, as far as I am aware permission is only required when someone could be identified by the photo, (e.g. if they were in school uniform etc.), could be wrong though.

  • No legal reason to seek permission. The pavement is a public place. And practically, it would be pretty hard to use the pose in the picture for any nefarious purpose that would put the child at risk.

  • lamhdearg

    should not have printed the boys name.

  • FJH
    As the laws stands there is nothing to stop me, you or anyone else for that matter from taking a photograph in a public place, as Alan says it’s a public place. What you can’t do is then use it for commercial purposes say for an advertising campaign or the like.
    I took the photograph merely as an illustration of the increasing diversity of Belfast(Taken beside City Hall Joe). One of the women was on the phone and the one in the middle kept interjecting with her point (all in Arabic ).
    He actually asked( in a fairly broad Belfast accent which i wasn’t expecting) to see the photograph so i showed him and the two women the photo. He beamed even more and the women were all smiles too.
    As for the printing of his name lamhdearg is it any worse than captions you see such as “Billy McSoandSo is all smiles at the Lamas Fair” or “Paddy Mc SoandSo beaming at the sunshine in the city centre”.
    Clanky you raise a fair point because obviously information like that could be used for malign purposes and yes you do have to be careful but this photograph really is nothing more than i have stated, an illustration of the increasing diversity of Belfast. Common sense, understanding and knowing the possible consequences of a photograph and intent are the main factors (along with composition and content)
    Furthermore FJH the PSNI cannot make me delete a photograph as stated in their media policy unless they have a court order. Of course it’s all open to interpretation and i have taken to pixellating PSNI officers faces should i happen to have photographed them. If a PSNI officer was so inclined he could make your life a misery but your attitude and response to them is important too.
    ‘Photography is not a crime’ and ;I’m not a terrorist’ are two mottos have sprung up recently amongst those photographers that want to walk the streets and document life as it is and not some glorified ad campaign, in what is becoming an increasingly paranoid society. If you’re so worried about it then consider all the cctc cameras dotted around town.
    Who is watching the watchers?
    Just a thought.

  • lamhdearg

    As for the printing of his name lamhdearg is it any worse than captions you see such as “Billy McSoandSo is all smiles at the Lamas Fair” or “Paddy Mc SoandSo beaming at the sunshine in the city centre”.
    No. In my view no names of children along with their picture should be posted on the internet (that includes bonny baby and its like) i also dont like those car stickers that say “little(insert name here) on board”.
    ps i like your posts.

  • Clanky

    “Clanky you raise a fair point because obviously information like that could be used for malign purposes and yes you do have to be careful but this photograph really is nothing more than i have stated, an illustration of the increasing diversity of Belfast”

    yeah, I was thinking more in terms of child protection issues, I think there is a law somewhere which does not allow the publishing of photos of children in a situation from which they could be identified without their parents permission, so for instance if you posted a photo of a kid with a caption saying wee Johnny Mc…… from such and such a school you would have to have parents permission, as I said above though I could be wrong.

    Also IMHO we have become far too paranoid about child protection to the point were the dangers of making kids (and parents) afraid of their own shadow outweigh the dangers they ever faced before.

  • joeCanuck

    As I said on another thread, if you needed permission to take photos on the street, TV news would consist of a man or woman sitting behind a desk reading to us, and some studio interviews

  • Cheers lamhdearg.

    I particularly hate those self fulfilling prophecies proclaiming “Little Princess on board”

  • i’m well versed in child protection issues working as i have with some of the most disadvantaged here but most of it is about common sense and i’d agree that there is an increasing paranoia.
    I mean little boys will be little boys and little girls will be little girls so lets allow them their precious childhood without inculcating a sense of fear and paranoia.
    They’ll have enough time to develop that themselves

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    In August I was with an American and on the day of the tall Ships event, there were two PSNI officers riding bicycles in Custom House Square and I asked for permission to take a photograph of them and they said it was ok.
    Like you say the changing face of Belfast which is of course great.
    Yet I feel I would be breaking faith with those guys if I published the pic.
    While I emphasise that its a perfectly acceptable photograph in itself my issue is its publication.
    You have no accountability to anyone but yourself. And while those photographers walking around the streets may mostly be decent people, there are prolly a few who arent.

    But its absurd for you to worry about CCTV as an intrusion and simultaneously think you (with no accountability) have a divine right to point your camera at anyone and publish them without any permission.

  • RepublicanStones

    Beautiful photo Mooch. Love hearing Arabic in full flow as well. I don’t think you need to worry about any code of ethics on a public pavement.

  • Thanks RS
    Arabic is so gutterally distinctive isn’t it?
    I’m not worried in the slightest about the ins and outs as i am well aware of what is right and wrong (there’s plenty of photos i’ve taken that never get off the hardrive for one reason or another) and FJH the cctv reference was spurrious for sure but something else to consider and yes i have a right to take photos i just don’t know about the divine bit 🙂

  • Argosjohn

    good to see them making the effort to blend in.

  • RepublicanStones

    You seem to have snapped Travis Bickle as well Mooch. Careful next time you get a taxi.

  • Driftwood

    If I showed that photo to my cousins in Canada who left Belfast many decades ago they would be surprised at the indifference displayed by the passers by.

    As for names and photos, the Belfast Telegraph seems to go the Daily Mail route with its online galleries–heatwave-14818206.html

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • “them”
    Do you mean the Zorathrustrians we can’t’ see in the photos or the Klingons and their damn cloaking devices

  • I suspect that the inclusion of the names would help for on lines sales purposes

  • Rory Carr

    As Moochin more or less points out, context is everything.

    We all might suppose that it would be quite obscene to publish a photograph of a naked girl child running screaming in terror and pain – but history records what a blessed thing it was that AP photographer, Nick Ut took that photograoh of Vietnamese girl, Phan Thi Kim Phuc and that it flashed around the world as an enduring symbol of the horror that the US was inflicting on the Vietnamese people and became of such great import in raising the conciousness of the American people to demand an end to US involvement.

    Here courtesy of flickr:

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Rory Carr
    oh I think thats an extreme example.
    Again I emphasise nothing wrong with Moochin Photoman s pics in themselves. Its the publication I find “uncomfortable”.
    The Vietnam or Ethiopia or other examples are clearly photo journalism.
    At another end of the scale there is simple voyeurism.
    And somewhere between the two there is a line.
    Im not sure where the line is.
    In deference to others who possibly rightly dont share my concern, I have decided not to look at or comment on any subsequent photograph.

  • Mark McGregor


    Well you’re wrong to withdraw from the conversation and viewing the entries because you disagree with a seeming consensus.

    It may be legal and so far it may be legitmate but there is a line that Mooch is treading and if the sceptics just ignore it and drop the arguments, when/if he gets close to stepping over the line those that had/have concern need to be around to call it.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’ll also throw this one into the mix and maybe Mooch will comment:

    I previously noted Moochin was in a Creative Commons photo I posted, a photo taken in a public place. Mooch was quick off the mark in requesting I removed the reference to him (not the photo) as he believed it could have compromised his ability to freely take shots.

    (admittedly the situtation photographed was a little charged but it perhaps puts the absolutism of the right claimed into a little context when it comes to the personal?)

  • RepublicanStones

    And of course Rory there was Kevin Carter. I hope our Mooch is made of sterner stuff.


    I think it’s a matter of simple courtesy to get someone’s permission before taking a photograph which focuses on them. Having said that, the idea that we shouldn’t post pictures of children, because there is some army of paedophiles trawling for potential victims is just ridiculous.
    Abuse is way much more likely by someone who knows the child, it is in our own families, churches and schools that we need to be vigilant.

    Wonderful picture, beautiful kid, and a great reflection of our new multicultural society.

  • Fair point Mark and it does highlight a dichotomy but i asked you to drop a reference to me there more for my personal safety than anything else. That particular event whilst little more than handbags, still had the potential to escalate and the sectarian nature of the views expressed mean that people caught expressing themselves might not necessarily want to be seen.
    I have had a couple of not so veiled threats against me posted online, the first on a particularly nasty site, (since closed down) from those wonderful free thinkers Combat 18. For reference this photograph lead to a couple of posts asking if anyone knew who i was then the message ‘Lets hope he gets a pipe for christmas’

  • Simple courtesy perhaps TAFKABO but not always possible or necessary. It does come down to a question of intent and as Rory noted (because i’m a wind bag and didn’t get round to stating it) context.
    I agree also that i don’t think the posting of images of children is going to endanger a child and that 95%+ of the time the dangers are on their doorstep not on the street in broad daylight.

  • So because i post this online it doesn’t make it photo journalism?
    The Irish News regularly features candid street photographs such as these, the Belfast Telegraph nor the Newsletter do so which as a personal reflection perhaps reflects the defensive nature of their readership.
    I’m far more comfortable on the street in Nationalist areas maybe because their community leadership recognise the benefits of a good photograph and that again on a personal note have nothing to hide……discuss.
    If of course you are not going to look or comment any further i may well be speaking to myself but i will say i think you are over reacting