Hey, there. Can I take your picture...?
April 13, 2011 9:58 AM   Subscribe

I want to write a blog called "This is MARTA" I'm in Atlanta, GA.

I could re-post this to Projects, if that's the consensus - but mostly I'm looking for ideas, comments, thoughts??

So far I don't think anyone is doing such a blog in Atlanta - but I see amazing people every. single. day on MARTA (and I'm sorta-kinda in love with photography.) Similar concepts: The Sartorialist, People of Wal-Mart (MINUS the snark!) and the like. This is not a mean-spirited effort, more like, "Hey let me take your picture because you look interesting/awesome/fly and by the way, why do you ride MARTA?"

I know I would need people to sign a release (in order to feature their photo) but what else should I be considering? There are all kinds of blogs dedicated to NY transit and SF Muni, but I trust y'alls Google-Fu on the Atlanta angle.

NB: There's a pervasive rumor that "only poor Black people ride MARTA" and I want to do whatever I can to dispel that myth. This idea just popped into my head and I can't shake the feeling that it might be some thunder. Thanks!
posted by polly_dactyl to Travel & Transportation around Atlanta, GA (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
NB: There's a pervasive rumor that "only poor Black people ride MARTA" and I want to do whatever I can to dispel that myth.

I understand your impulse and generally speaking, I applaud it, but I would be careful with your tone here in your blog. Also, are you talking about busses too or only the trains?
posted by lesli212 at 10:01 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Before you go any further, take this up with MARTA itself.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:02 AM on April 13, 2011


MARTA is a public transportation system, thus there is no expectation of privacy on the train or buses. Obviously, check with a lawyer, but I don't think you'll need any sort of release. You took the picture in a public place, you own the copyright.

Oh, and I would completely expect MARTA officials to have a big problem with the blog. I don't know that they have any real legal standing, but that's never stopped public officials before.

Quite frankly, if you are thinking about a simple photoblog this much it's probably doomed to fail. Just do it, or don't.
posted by COD at 10:12 AM on April 13, 2011


I understand your impulse and generally speaking, I applaud it, but I would be careful with your tone here in your blog. Also, are you talking about busses too or only the trains?
posted by lesli212 at 10:01 AM on April 13 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]



Well I am Black, but I'm a California girl and I grew up with people of all colors - so I don't foresee a racial angle here. For ex: the other day I talked to this (Black) Trans guy who had these amazing sunglasses on - if I had had the balls to ask, he probably would have let me take his photo. He was FLY. Then yesterday while waiting for the train I talked to a little old White lady who launched into this explanation of why she's suddenly switched to soy milk. She would have been DELIGHTED if I had asked to photograph her, at least I think.

Good question - and the kind of feedback I'm hoping for here. As I said, this is not an idea to make fun of people, more like boosting up Atlanta transit for the people who think that "only poor people do that". If that makes sense. In SF damn near everybody takes the train or the bus, but here people are very attached to their cars. (Talk about sprawl, yikes!)

I take buses too (lots of high school kids,) but mostly the trains (lots of college kids and working people) - I go crosstown for my (newish) job, and I see a lot of awesome-looking people that I want to talk to. If I could also change backward-peoples('s, es??) concept of public transport, it would be a win-win.

Love ya.
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:13 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know I would need people to sign a release (in order to feature their photo

No, you don't. If someone is in a public place, there is no expectation of privacy. Snap away.

But of course, you would need to be appropriately careful about it, anyway, just so you're not being irritating.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:14 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know I would need people to sign a release (in order to feature their photo) but what else should I be considering?

...this is not necessarily true. It's certainly nice to ask permission, but releases are typically for commercial endeavors like stock photography. Newspapers don't need them, AFAIK.

The "public place" angle that COD mentions is only half the story. The expectation of privacy in a place matters, but so does the character of the usage.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:15 AM on April 13, 2011


Before you go any further, take this up with MARTA itself.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:02 AM on April 13 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]


Yup -- I forgot to mention this, too - the legal angle. If it's mostly like, "MARTA is a fun time, you'll meet amazing quirky people! Death to stereotypes!!" I would hope they would let me do it. I have a friend who is friends with a councilwoman and I'll be asking her about the legalities (or who I need to talk to) soon.

I could leave the name MARTA off of it, but I mean, it would be pretty obvious.

Awesome!
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:17 AM on April 13, 2011


From what I've read, MARTA isn't a photography-friendly establishment. There are some personal anecdotes in this flickr thread.
posted by litnerd at 10:17 AM on April 13, 2011


releases are typically for commercial endeavors like stock photography

True. But moreover, don't confuse copyright with personality and promotion rights. You can take a photo of anyone in a public place and you own the copyright to that photo. What you don't own is the personality rights of the subject -- you can't use that photo to advertise other products (or even your own services as a photographer).

In other words: Paparazzi take pictures of celebrities in public and can sell the pictures -- they own the copyright on the photo. But you can't take a picture of Angelina Jolie, then stick it on a T-shirt and sell the shirt.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:20 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I definitely want to TALK to the people - not just snap away surreptitiously.

I was thinking about a 3 or 5 question thing: Hey, can I take your picture for my blog about public transportation in Atlanta?? Then I would tell them what made me stop them - fab sunglasses, or like the older lady that had these AMAZING long gray dreadlocks piled up on top of her head the other day -- then: your name (or first initial,) where you are going today (if comfortable) and why you ride MARTA.

I'm not looking to shoot up-skirt pix or make fun of people. I want to reiterate that as many times as I need to. Southern people are *friendly* and half the times I'm beating people off of me with a stick anyway. Seriously.

If someone asked me to take MY picture on the train, I'd be suspicious - but if they had a business card and a smartphone to show me the blog, I might sign off. Does this make sense?
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:28 AM on April 13, 2011


From what I've read, MARTA isn't a photography-friendly establishment. There are some personal anecdotes in this flickr thread.

One running theme in that thread is one guy who seems to get kicked out of every damn place he tries to take pictures.

The link to the MARTA site specifically mentions "commercial photography", which this is not likely to be (IANAL). Not to guarantee that you will have any luck convincing MARTA PD of that, of course, but if you did get in touch with MARTA and they were amenable to the idea you could get a license from them.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:32 AM on April 13, 2011


Is your title a play on "This is SPARTA!"? That's how I read it and it sounds like fun.

Anyway, I like the Public Eye section of Time Out NY which has a little blurb about each person. It sort of humanizes them to know a little bit about them rather then objectify them when it's just their photo.
posted by cazoo at 10:44 AM on April 13, 2011


I would love to read a blog like this (and that is a great name!). The only people-on-public-transit photo blogs I've seen have been mean-spirited and surreptitious; it would be really nice to see one that is more along the lines of what you've described.

I don't know what people think MARTA is going to do to you. Unless it's unlike every other transit system I've ever ridden on, there aren't going to be MARTA personnel within each car, and as long as you have the permission of the people you're photographing and they aren't going to file a complaint or something, how is MARTA going to know what you're doing? Go ahead and do it and please post it to Projects when you do!
posted by enn at 10:46 AM on April 13, 2011


Is your title a play on "This is SPARTA!"? That's how I read it and it sounds like fun.

I wish, but no -- the transit system here is called MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Association?) sort of like saying BART or MTA or whatever the shorthand is in Chicago. Sorry, I should have explained that sooner.

I like the Time Out / Man on the Street concept - and I don't want to irritate people (who are mostly coming or going from work, like ME!) so I want to keep any questions short and to the point.

I like your style!
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:50 AM on April 13, 2011


AskMe never fails, seriously. Love y'all.
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:52 AM on April 13, 2011


This idea is amazing! I actually heard the "This is MARTA!" in my head when reading the title and considered that folks who don't think that marta is "for them" being afraid of us unwashed masses screaming that and kicking them down onto the third rail.

Digression aside, the most common complaint I hear about marta after "It's scary!" (it's not.) is "But it doesn't go anywhere!"

I think that you might win some people over by dispelling that myth. Possibly post excursions people can take using only MARTA. Bonus points if you can team up with other popular atlanta blogs (maybe when Blissful Glutton or whoever posts a restaurant review, you can tag up and link back with what the trip is like on MARTA)
posted by goHermGO at 11:19 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I travel in other countries, my favorite thing is to ride the local bus on it's route. I see the myriad of people (and hear them chat away in their language,) smell the city as we pass bakeries, restaurants & neighborhoods and also, obviously, see the city I'm visiting!
(When I found myself visiting some Islands, I substituted the bus for the ferry and added in a tan.) When I'm not traveling (EG back at work/school) I love finding blogs like the one you're describing, to remind me of past adventures & to see new faces (and to make me smile.) So definitely post to projects or update us here!

As far as everything else- you seem perfectly capable of striking up a good conversation and incorporating photography into the mix. When people see you having a good time, laughing and talking with other riders they will not see a camera (or the situation) negatively. There will be no awkward, quickly taken shot or uncomfortable anything. There will be only love.


Good Luck.
posted by MansRiot at 11:23 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There will be no awkward, quickly taken shot or uncomfortable anything. There will be only love.

Oh MansRiot. you just made my day. This is it, in a bottle. You win the thread.
posted by polly_dactyl at 11:28 AM on April 13, 2011


Aww yay!
posted by MansRiot at 11:52 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live in Atlanta and I would love to read this blog. Please make it!
posted by ohsnapdragon at 2:20 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have nothing valuable to contribute to this conversation, but as a Georgia resident and ATL ex-pat, I would absolutely read this blog.
posted by DeusExMegana at 2:22 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I ride MARTA every day. I would love to see this done.

(PS, white people on MARTA trains scare me. I hate after Braves games and during rush hour. And I'm white.)
posted by strixus at 3:31 PM on April 13, 2011


(PS, white people on MARTA trains scare me. I hate after Braves games and during rush hour. And I'm white.)
posted by strixus at 3:31 PM on April 13 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]


I'm going to go ahead and cuss, because that is fucking HILARIOUS -- during and after a Braves game or a street festival, it's like the White people in Atlanta ALL GLOM ONTO THE TRAIN. (Parking challenges, yuck!) It changes things up a bit from slumming it with all the Somalians and airport workers and poor Black folk!

But - when I know there's a game and I see a White dad with his twin boys all decked out in Braves gear, I want to take their photo. Especially if the kids have ice cream on their faces and are jazzed just to see a train.


Thanks all - I think you've convinced me!
posted by polly_dactyl at 3:45 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it would be really cool if you did give them a card with the site address on it, so they could look for their photo later. And I do think it adds an air of legitimacy to the project, which will make people more comfortable.
posted by lhall at 4:31 PM on April 13, 2011


I think it would be really cool if you did give them a card with the site address on it, so they could look for their photo later. And I do think it adds an air of legitimacy to the project, which will make people more comfortable.
posted by lhall at 4:31 PM on April 13 [marked as best answer | unmark] [+] [!]


Spot on. I have the kind of face that makes people want to talk to me (and they DO -- believe me, they do...) but I want to make sure not to skeeve people out. As I said, I am female, (and usually alone deep in the bowels of the train system,) and I don't want to put people in the position of thinking that I mean them any harm.

This would be mostly during commuting hours - 9:00AM-ish and 6:00PM-ish. Even still, I see some awesome-looking people and others that I simply want to ask "Tell me about your life, please?!" I work weekends too sometimes, and Saturday is a wild card -- see above re: Braves games and street festivals. I would be stopping anyone who piques my fancy, for whatever reason - not just Black people, and not just high-fashion people; literally whoever. Whatever.

I love the responses. Thanks guys!!
posted by polly_dactyl at 5:01 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't offer anything specific, but this sounds like a great idea - anything to encourage habitual drivers to try transit is worth doing. If you come across as peppy and fun in person as in this thread, I bet you'll have lots of volunteers/subjects for your photos. Having a business card or showing them your blog on your phone would be extra reassuring, I think.

Love the idea of showing people how to do fun things on MARTA, or get to places that other popular Atlanta blogs talk about, as well as plugging regular commuting.

Chances are, riding MARTA won't save those fraidy-cat suburbanites any time on their regular commute (at least if it's like most transit systems in the USA versus highway traffic). And the fares probably seem pretty high (somehow the cost of gas, insurance, car maintenance etc get forgotten by drivers). So the "cool/fun factor" is what's left. Maybe a Faulkner-type gallery of cool/quirky commuters? MARTA is where you can meet those legendary Southern raconteurs and charming eccentrics? Play up the opportunities for social networking in real life, instead of peering at a tiny screen.

Good luck, and please post to Projects when it's ready!
posted by Quietgal at 5:11 PM on April 13, 2011


anything to encourage habitual drivers to try transit is worth doing.

This is my in, literally - after telling people, "Wow, you look amazing because ______", I would likely talk about why they choose to take MARTA today instead of driving. For many folks the answer will be parking, or gridlock, or whatever - and with ten tons of college kids here they can't ALL drive to campus.

Awesome comment. MARTA IS expensive - which is why the "only poor people who can't afford cars ride MARTA" thing is so confuzzling to me. I'm out of my element, in so many ways :( (I have never owned a car in my life, not that I'm bragging. I had a driver's license, but it lapsed in like 2005. Seriously.)

Atlanta is a city on the cusp - had a boom, went bust, but there are still a million corporate headquarters here, and I meet people every day who drive here because Altanta is a magnet city in the region. I love it here WAY more than I was ever expecting to. I want that to come across to any people I talk to and any in blog I create.
posted by polly_dactyl at 5:28 PM on April 13, 2011


...who drive here because Altanta is a magnet city in the region.

Or, who are not FROM here, I meant to say. But lots of people coming into town take the train from the airport into the city. They are notable because of their copious luggage and maps. I also (regularly) see Delta employees -- including pilots in full uniform -- and I want to know their stories.

Others who drive in from AL and FL and VA and whatever are not my target market (though I love them and their enthusiasm!!)

I heard so many bad things about Atlanta before moving here - and it's a lot of BS. I want this to be a fun thing about transit, which I think is coming across to you all.

Totally helpful! I'll close this up soon.
posted by polly_dactyl at 5:45 PM on April 13, 2011


Be prepared to enforce a strict comment policy. A lot of people aren't going to get the deal. Their reading comprehension may not be the greatest. They may mistake your blog for a public transit/black/urban version of "People of WalMart," and comment accordingly.

Maybe you can formulate a snappy sentence that says "This blog celebrates the diversity of our world, and takes a peek into everyone's stories. I respect my fellow travelers as human beings, and I think everyone is awesome, don't you agree?" And have that prominently displayed throughout your blog.

Because it sounds like you have the best of intentions, and I have faith that you can do an awesome job with this. But I'm sure you've heard the local "joke" about what MARTA really stands for. (If not, memail me. I refuse to propagate it in public.)
posted by ErikaB at 10:05 PM on April 13, 2011


Comments will absolutely be disabled, at least until I get a sense of who my audience is. Totally thought about this aspect already. The main Atlanta newspaper (AJC.com) doesn't allow comments on their website, and I can only imagine the shitstorm of prejudice and homophobia and hate speech if they did (WaPo comments, anyone?? Yikes.)

So I take my cue from that - but Blacks are like 60% of the population here (everything from wealthy to homeless, literally,) and as I said, for some unknown reason strangers love to talk to me. I hope that Atlanta RESIDENTS and VISITORS will be open and willing to talk/be photographed. I am going to memail you right now because I HAVEN'T heard the joke. It will probably make me sick :(

I need to buy an AskMe T-shirt, or something - you people are amazing!
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:18 PM on April 13, 2011


good luck! Please post to projects when you start blogging. I MISS ATLANTA SOO MUCH! :-)
posted by lesli212 at 11:47 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Atlanta is a young, fun city - especially if you like food and fashion and going out to dinner. Nine out of ten ladies are pregnant (or toting a toddler), and people move here from all over the world. Now mash that up with eleventy-billion college students + "Corn-fed Georgia boys" (as I call them,) and a high crime rate -- this city is NOTHING like what I expected. Racial tensions are sometimes PREVALENT and sometimes nonexistent. It's fascinating! I hated the crime wave in the Highlands last summer, but I think it brought about some good dialogue between the races. Riding MARTA is much the same - it's an equalizer. Some people ride because they have no choice, but some people ride because they think it's important to not drive everywhere.

Yay for adopted hometowns! I miss San Francisco like whoa, but Atlanta has made an impression on this Black girl. :)
posted by polly_dactyl at 12:10 AM on April 14, 2011


This (car-free, pro-public-transit-like-whoa, wishes-she-had-the-self-confidence-to-chat-up-strangers) Oaklander now really wants to read this blog. Please do post to Projects when things get rolling!
posted by Lexica at 5:14 PM on April 24, 2011


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