As a principle of law you can stand in the street and take photographs. Obviously its way more complex, and subtle, than just that.
One (of the many) things you have to consider is your right (be that legal or moral) to photograph other people. In fact documentarians and street photographers may go so far as to consider it their duty to photograph people.
But what do the photographed have to say about this irrespective of your rights or duties?
In the UK we're pretty lucky as most people are generally fine with being photographed; but really I suspect that's because they never expect to see the results. If they were to believe they may wake up one morning plastered across billboards, they may not be so accommodating.
In a public space photograph who or what you like (current terrorism legislature allowing). But if you feature people as obvious subjects in a way whereby they could be recognised you need to be careful with how, and where, and if you publish the image.
And these days, you should know to speak to the parents before shooting kids.
I don't feel anyone in this shot would have thought to complain if they found it here one day, so I have published without any permissions, in this instance.
When it comes to candid shots of people, I think it's a case of 'use not abuse'.
I moved to London after a couple of years of shuffling back and forth every fortnight on the 500 mile round trip to spend weekends with my (now) wife Christine; who would shuffle herself back and forth by train or coach, on the alternate weekends. I think my wife had the rougher end of the deal not only because she had to spend weekdays alone in London (which isn't always the most caring of environments) but also because she had to rely on public transport whereas I was zipping along in my 2.0L VW Polo.
Putting a 2.0L engine into a little car like a Polo is a ridiculous idea. A ridiculous idea that becomes an utterly insane idea if the intent is then to hand the keys over to a reckless and irresponsible driver such as I was back then in my youth; goddammit but I loved that car.
We were neither of us really troubled by all the weekend travelling, it was just how things were. Given the circumstances, it was what we wanted to do. I think it demonstrated the key to our relationship; we've never really worried about 'what does it mean for the future?'; rather we worry about 'are we happy today?'. If we can be happy day by day, then we'll handle whatever the future throws at us on the day it hoys it in our direction. So there were no big conversations about what it would mean if Chris took a job down sarf; it was the right job for her, so she took and we just handled what that meant. For 2 full years.
Until I landed a job at the BBC.
It was a good job. I was suprised how much I enjoyed it, given that the BBC is such a bastion of the state. For a long time, I did good work; winning a BAFTA for The History of the World in 100 objects (by democratising the proposition and proving that crowd-sourcing could mean so much more than harvesting photographs of snowmen for the so-called-news department).
I was based in old Broadcasting House on Regent's Street. Every lunchtime I would go awandering taking candid street shots. They gave me an unexpected 'productivity' bonus that I spent on a 1938 Leica IIIb film camera, a beautiful but cantankerous little thing; everyday I had a camera with me and everyday I took photographs.
Of course it all went tits-up. They moved me out to White City and Broadcast Centre where all the upper-echelon lunatics hung out and did their damnedest to bleed the meaning out of the work. Things became quite acriminous and I was basically at war with idiots for the last three years (although, I shall never forget the sweetest moment when my 'boss' broke down in tears after I opened his eyes to the fact that he was a workplace bully).
But the BBC brought me some real opportunities: working with the British Museum on our BAFTA winning project; Winning the staff photography competition; visiting TVC for a photoshoot before they sold it off... and basically just funding my creative and hedonistic lifestyle for over a decade. I would say thanks, but they were also tw@ts, so I won't.