ethics of photographing homeless and poor

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amygdala_imagery
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Posted Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:25PM

i've been sitting on a handful of images from brazil of homeless people in tough situations.  i'm trying to get a grip on what my intention is with these sorts of photos.  what's my ends?  so i was curious for those of you out there who are interested...


what's your take on photographing poor and homeless human beings and selling as editorial?  do you have a particular course of action and/or ehtical stance?  what are your reasons?

thank you for any insight or sharing.  appreciated!

(Edited on 2013-02-27 11:07:41 by amygdala_imagery)
alanphillips
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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2013 5:58AM
Well, you could think of it this way: You want to make money from a photograph you took of a poor, homeless person. You aim to benefit from them, will they get any benefit?
Just a thought. 
jentakespictures
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Posted Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:39AM
Posted By alanphillips:
Well, you could think of it this way: You want to make money from a photograph you took of a poor, homeless person. You aim to benefit from them, will they get any benefit?
Just a thought. 

You could pretty much say this about most editorial photography.
CHBD
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Posted Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:46PM
This is my take on it:
I would say it depends on your original intentions, not so often but I do photograph poverty in general from the educational perspective and not because it is a poverty,  light is great,  making it great dramatic portrait that will make me some money and so on so forth. There is a reason behind it that goes deeper then profit, the way I look at it, some of misfortune have to be seen followed with grief and sympathy so the rest of viewing public can be reminded of their fortune, human beings tend to forget a lot, taking everything for granted. Some are poor due to their own choice but some have no choice at all, so if the person I am photographing is a part of bigger picture that sends a message then I go ahead and do it. As far getting compensated for it, oh well, unfortunately we all are part of the machinery that runs on money, news cost money, books cost money, internet cost money in fact everything in this world has its price, so even if you want to give them for free someone will take advantage of it anyway, so why not license them thru the legit source that will control the usage, that way you can be sure to some degree that image will be used in respectful serious matter. This is a very interesting subject for which a short post wouldn’t do any justice to it, but this is my take on it.

 
graemenicholson
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Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:34AM

I have limited experiece. Once I photographed abject poverty in SE Asia for an NGO, the objective being to raise awareness and solicit funding for projects. I was not paid (the Rep. is a friend) but if I were I would not have a problem with it, I am a photographer, it's my job.


What is interesting is the type of images that are effective, but this topic is about ethics. And 'Some are poor due to their own choice' is also interesting.


Wait, the type of imgages is not off topic (why am I so paranoid?). Images of people living in deplorable conditions do not help unless the dignity of those affected is preserved. One example, although poor, personal hygiene is of great importance for these people, which means walking a long distance to get water, which means they need a well nearby, which means they need funding for this well. So images of them carrying heavy water containers and doing the laundry show they are willing and able to help themselves, and therefore positive. Whereas images of hopelessness are negative, they cause the viewer to think that the situation IS hopeless.


This topic brought to mind a play by Isherwood, (or was it Auden, I forget), in which a photographer is describing a scene from his last trip, where he encounters a beggar in tatters bathed in extraordinary light. His friend asks, 'What did you give him?', and the photographer replies, '1/60th of a second at f2.8'.
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