Chris likes to read BoingBoing because they’ve got such a great variety of articles on there about all sorts of things. Today there was a posting about photographing the developing world that we both liked.
This link is good and was written by a woman who works in the development realm. She’s got some good links to a Reuter’s post and some others that are worth reading.
I liked it because I agree with it. There’s a very fine line between the right to take pictures of what you want, and exploiting people. I go through the conversation in my head whenever we’re out and I have my camera. That’s why you often see pictures of scenery, and not so much about the poverty here. I want people to see Haiti and what’s here, but not in a way that would make me feel like my privacy had been violated if I was the one being photographed. And besides, while poverty is what Haiti is most well known for, it’s not all that makes Haiti what it is, and I want to be fair and show people all of it, not just the garbage and tin shacks.
There are plenty of times where I would also love to take pictures of people, but in a country where aid organizations are common, it’s the people that are often used as the biggest fundraisers. Their faces are plastered on brochures and websites and the heart strings are tugged and checks are written. When we redesigned our brochure we didn’t want to be one of those organizations so we deliberately chose pictures that give you a sense of joy and excitement about being part of such a great project. We don’t want donors that give because they feel guilty, we want donors that give because they believe we are helping to change the lives of people.
I guess that’s the bottom line for me. While there are things that I see here that shock me or make me want to cry, they are also the things that make up the lives of the people that live here, and I know for certain that I wouldn’t want people taking pictures of all of my family’s problems. Granted, there are times where some things just make me laugh or I know that trying to explain them to others would be impossible, so a picture is the best way to show them. People travel to Canada all the time and take pictures of where I live so they can go home and do the same. I don’t think a Haitian would be any different. In that though I believe there needs to be a certain amount of respect for people and an attempt to not exploit them.