Thoughts on GDPR and color

2018, Photography, thoughts

‘Thought’ is maybe one of my most favourite English words. And it is very much part of my personality. When I did a Birkman method test some 18 years ago it was clear I was a thinker.

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In a week, on May 25 2018, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation will set in. And I wonder how that will affect us photographers. And especially those who publish work regularly on the internet or printed publications.

Now let me make clear that I don’t collect personal data. You can subscribe to my blog and you will receive an update in your mailbox whenever I publish a new blog post. The owners of, Automattic, also use cookies to track your internet behaviour. By next week they have to be compliant to the GDPR. I don’t run biometric software, but I’m aware that my photographs do sometimes show people’s faces. Automattic made the following statement about GDPR. If you, as a visitor of my site, want to know more about what Automattic, and it’s partners, do with the collected data, you can read that here.

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Regarding privacy concerns I try to determine how that will affect my photography. I don’t photograph on the street with consent and don’t ask those photographed for their permission to be published. I have no commercial intentions for publishing my photographs. I don’t seek payed photographic jobs or clients. I have a day-time job and photograph for pleasure, therapeutic reasons, my personal mindset and right-doing, and because I just love photography and it is very much part of me.

Privacy is still a concern to me, and I will try to keep you informed on how this new legislation and all the privacy concerns will affect my photography. So, one of my first measures is activating the EU Cookie Law widget you might notice below.

I’d like to know what you do to comply with the new regulation. And will you take the GDPR in consideration when taking photographs in public spaces?

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And when it comes to photography you might have noticed an increasing amount of color work on my blog. During my therapeutic counseling due to my burn-out I started using positive mindfulness on daily basis. And somehow using black and white in my photography didn’t feel right to me. Now looking back at my photographs from the last two months I noticed that subconsciously started to do a lot more in color. Therefore I decided to stop black and white for now. Right now, color photography syncs so much better with my current state of mind.

At some time I will try to dive deeper into this subject. And I’m sorry for my thoughts of sort on the new GDPR, but I feel an obligation to you, the readers of my blog, to make this clear.

And on a different note, when it comes to 100% photographs post (like the previous one) I will probably keep the comment section closed so all the focus will be on the photographs instead. Feel free to contact me by mail or twitter (and follow me there too).

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

14 thoughts on “Thoughts on GDPR and color

  1. In my day job (I work in a Local Authority) there’s much talk and preparation for GDPR currently. I must admit though I hadn’t given any thought to how it might affect my photography and blog. I assume that WordPress will conform however they need to in terms of subscribers. And as I hardly every take a photograph of a person (other than family) and publish them even less often, I don’t think it’s going to have any impact on me.

    On the photography front, the first image (grain silos or similar?) I did wonder why you hadn’t made it b/w, as it has so few colours anyway. But then the little flowers in the foreground and especially those right at the base of the silos, are really significant in their bright yellow, and this would be lost in b/w. A reminder of how nature thrives, even when we try to dominate and control it.

    I’m sort of the opposite at the moment, I’m not shooting much colour at all, as it just adds an extra layer of decisions I don’t want to deal with. So for now I’m sticking with the greater simplicity (for me) of b/w photography. Good for you for embracing colour and making it work so well Wouter!

    1. I hadn’t any thoughts about GDPR in relation to my photography and blog too, but I noticed a few discussions on this topic and it had my thinking. Even photographs can contain personal information. So it is still important to somehow take notice of it. I don’t think it will immediately impact us. This new legislation is also implemented to make data protection part of designing and developing new services. Therefore this can mainly be seen as an obstruction for services like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Twitter among many others that thrive on data collection for mostly commercial purposes.

      I’ve used B&W for so long, that I wanted to additional challenge of seeing in color again. I’ve very much simplified my processing though, so I can focus on many other things instead. Thanks for adding your thoughts, Dan.

      1. I think this tightening up with data protection is long overdue. Of course there will still be renegades who flout the rules, but the big companies we use and “trust” online like WordPress, Google etc will have to conform, which is good for all.

        I want to get to the point where I think as little about colour as b/w, and I do have a couple of preset looks set up with Snaspeed, one for a warmer colour look, and one more “vintage” look for my family shots. But I’m not as comfortable and fluid with colour as b/w. Partly because there are so many options, and one day I’ll favour a warmer more vintage look then another day prefer a far more bleak and bleached out colour kind of look. So just focusing on the b/w and improving the basics like lighting and composition for the foreseeable future.

        1. I just use a couple of chromatic presets too. With color the time of the day is very important, because the light can bring a mixture of colors within a certain range that can work really well. Admitted though, B&W is very good for learning light and composition. Many great color photographers in the past started as B&W photographers.

  2. Thanks for sharing your GDPR thoughts, Wouter! I see you take about the same approach as me, good to know. I wonder how it will affect Street Photography in the long term. Most of the street photos I publish on my blog are without consent. But Germany has been very restrictive before. I‘ll keep shooting & blogging as before! Marcus

    1. Thank you Marcus. Like I mentioned above in one of my comments, I think the GDPR is mostly there to protect us from larger companies and their services. I never had problems before, which I think is a good guidance for the near future. Sincere respect for others and avoiding exploitation of those in harm is the best we can do.

  3. Never called myself a street photographer (I never liked the whole “streettog” scene), but I did shoot some street photos along the way. However, unrelated to GDPR, I have recently decided to quit “street”. I find my own privacy very valuable, and it felt increasingly uncomfortable to put photos online of people who were just minding their own business on the street.

    The world and technology have changed. A few years ago, a Russian guy published street photos of mainly young women, including their social profiles he had found through a face recognition app – an open invitation to harassment (and calling it an art project, did not justify it).

    The web has become a nasty place, that’s why I have also almost completely disconnected from social media and photo sharing platforms. And I do not want to expose other people to it anymore. Currently, my photographic M.O. is changing completely: just looking for details, shapes, abstractions, colors, minimalism, etc. Not for people.

    1. There a couple of things I can relate too. I don’t see myself as a street photographer too. I’d rather be strolling and photographing whatever I see. More and more I portrait people as silhouettes in my photographs. I too think there is no necessity to make people publicly recognizable. My subject range has always been quite extended, but with regard to privacy concerns I often think how it will affect my photography. And what my responsibilities are regarding privacies.

      I’ve mostly had good experiences with social media, but feel concerned with the lack of urgency from these services. When flickr got sold, I stopped that. I stopped facebook, because to me they control way too much what you see and what you read. And I see that some virus now spreading among instagram.

      There is a reason why I didn’t use any photographs with people in this blog post, and maybe that is a sign for my struggle and changes regarding this subject.

  4. I think that the GDPR has a lot of potential to be abused, particularly for photographers.

    Here in Barcelona it is almost impossible to take a photograph without including a face. My own photography involves a lot of images of people often in difficult and potentially illegal situations, and it also images of the police (problematic even without the GDPR thanks to Spain’s notorious “gag” law). But I think that it is important to document what is happening here.

    I think that you are right about mindset and the use of colour. I try to choose the most appropriate medium for a project, but it is very strongly biased towards B&W at the moment – which probably says something about my state of mind these last few years. I am glad you are shooting more in colour.

    1. True, when the photographs are great, and the situation, or time frame are of any importances, we’ll be glad it was documented.

      Color is now important for me mentally. I hope you’ll be able to see more color too. Stay strong and reach out.

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