TODAY   |  May 17, 2013

Artist uses telephoto lens to photograph neighbors

A gallery exhibit in New York City showing photographs secretly taken by artist Arne Svenson of his neighbors in their homes  has many questioning whether it’s artistic or an invasion of privacy. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a gallery here in new york city is raising eyebrows that features photographs of people going about their daily lives but some say those images are an invasion of privacy. nbc's mara schiavocampo has this story. mara, good morning.

>> reporter: savannah, good morning. why are so many people upset about these pictures? because the subjects were photographed in secret. now the personal images aren't just on public display, they're also on sale. they're snapshots of the most intimate and private moments putting a sleeping child to bed, napping. the problem, the people in these pictures had no idea they were being photographed.

>> i'm upset because a lot of children live in this building, i have children, young children in this building.

>> reporter: the pictures were taken by arne svenson across the street using a telephoto lens . "the neighbors" are on sale for as much as $8,000 each.

>> i'm sure there's a lot we haven't seen, i don't know what he has on film and i think that's everybody's big concern is what else is there and what else is he planning on doing with them.

>> reporter: svenson argues he's done nothing wrong and while no faces are fully visible residents argue it's an invasion of privacy.

>> i don't feel comfortable knowing that someone was pointing a camera into our place with a telephoto lens .

>> reporter: the gallery describes the photos as "social documentation in a very rarified environment" and fans of the exhibit agree.

>> you can't tell who they are so i think it's fine. i think they're, i love that, too, it's mysterious. i love them.

>> reporter: now svenson says he got the idea of these pictures from bird watching that it's really no different but he might have a hard time getting new pictures. since the exhibit opened a lot of people are keeping their curtains closed.