A Californian street photographer awoke to find himself the subject of a vicious, viral Facebook post filled with accusations that contained photos of his face. The post referred to him as a “P.O.S.” and insinuated he was a pedophile after he spent the afternoon documenting strangers, including families, at a county fair the day previous.
Joshua Rosenthal had been at the Ventura County Fair in Ventura, California, with the intention of snapping candid moments of strangers.
Writing on his Facebook page, he added:
I photograph people, often with no prior approval, because the photos speak more to the moment. One can’t capture life when it’s being posed.
The post in question has racked up thousands of comments and shares. The majority of the comments are rather scathing, with one even alluding to Rosenthal being a human trafficker, while another wished for his death.
Following complaints from locals, the local Ventura police department posted this now-deleted message on their Facebook page, advising on how to keep kids safe in public. It also made reference to Rosenthal’s presence at the fair and claims that he was spoken to on the day.
People are just making accusations with no facts. Let’s not forget that a moral compass does not constitute the law. What one sees as being ‘wrong’ is not illegal. In today’s day and age, if you see something you don’t like, ask about it. I’d be willing to bet there is another story.
Sorry I scared you (parents of some random girl). I understand that one wants to protect their kids. But protect them from what? Check out my photography, guys. You be the judge.
This is more about the First Amendment and doxing than it is about me. I’m not trying to get hurt, but I’m more concerned with the rights and safety of other photographers as well as the fear I have instilled in these parents.
It could have all been solved with a conversation, in my eyes.
Rosenthal tells PetaPixel that he’ll be contacting the ACLU next week.
Was he within his rights to take these photos? Do you agree that street and documentary photography only qualify if the subject is unaware of the photographer’s presence?