Humanitarian Photography: Protecting the Subject
CORE Group has started a Humanitarian Photography Interest Group led by Ann Hendrix-Jenkins, Director of Partnership Development. The group was started from a LinkedIn discussion about news photographs of the famine in East Africa, specifically this picture. At the first meeting we discussed all of the questions we had about photographing beneficiaries and discussed the policies or lack of policies our organizations currently have about photographing people in the field. Some of the topics of concern that came out of the first meeting were: Ethics, rights of the people being photographed, how to make better photographs, how to write a photo policy, and how to better educate our organizations in visual literacy. We quickly discovered that many organizations don't have a photo policy yet. At the next meeting, we tackled "consent" - to permit, approve, or comply. There is a difference between informed consent–asking in the language that the subject speaks whether someone can photograph them and telling them what the image will be used for and where it will appear–versus weaker consent. The latter usually involves someone pointing to a camera and nodding their head to get approval from the subject. With weaker consent, the person being photographed may not know what the picture will be used for or that it may be published in the future. There were several resources that were shared following the meeting that are very helpful to humanitarian photographers, including Code of Conduct on Images and Messaging, Development and Photography Ethics, Photo Tips (for taking better photos), and PhotoPhilanthropy.
Do you think it's important for humanitarian aid organizations to get consent from people who they are photographing? What do you think the best way to do this would be?