When we travel it’s natural to want to capture every memorable moment. But are these moments always morally acceptable?
Many times these memorable moments are the times when we are struck by something unusual or different from our experiences back home – a pride of lions lounging under a tree or a family of elephants striding across the savannah.
But is it OK to photograph people and poverty? Often travellers coming to Africa are struck by the poverty and want to take photographs of people and dwellings in slum areas.
Depending on your intention, such photography can be positive or negative and it is important to have respect for people’s privacy and sensitivity in getting the photo and in how you use the photo.
On our safaris, guests often ask us if it’s OK to take photos. But it is the people in your photograph that need to grant permission. And it is important to respect the answer. Many cultures around the world have beliefs about photography and will refuse a photograph. Or they may just be uncomfortable being the subject of interest.
Sometimes taking photos from the car window is the only way to get that fleeting shot as you travel. It seems like a good compromise: you can’t stop to ask permission and the person probably wouldn’t notice they were being photographed. But we have experienced unhappy people being photographed this way.
Overall, perhaps the best way to approach responsible photography of people is to ask: how would I feel if it were me?
Do you have an opinion about photography of people and poverty?
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