Ethics of photographing the homeless

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by mafoofan, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    So, I was out taking portraits of people. I had been asking each and every subject if I could shoot them, and most were happy to let me. Then I came upon an elderly woman who seemed like an interesting subject. I asked for her permission and she said okay--as I was taking her picture, I engaged her in friendly discussion and soon found out she was homeless. I wound up buying her a couple of sandwiches and some bottled water. She seemed very appreciative.

    From my understanding, there is some ethical rule in photography against taking pictures of the homeless as it constitutes a form of exploitation. How would you have dealt with the situation? Keep in mind, I am only taking pictures for personal use.
     


  2. Moss

    Moss Senior member

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    I would say that asking permission and explaining how you intend to use the photographs seem to keep you within ethical boundaries.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012


  3. ter1413

    ter1413 Senior member

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    +1.
    DON'T just take the picture w/o asking......
     


  4. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    Fap material?
     


  5. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    if you are taking their pictures for exploitative use, then why bother asking their permission, right? but what you did was right, m... just ask the person's permission and treat them the same as every other person. and yeah maybe buy him/her something to eat and drink. unless you're piob whose gonna buy malt liquor. having gone through catholic school we've had programs were we'd spend time with people in the same situation and also people in prison and what I learned is most of them would appreciate it if you treat them like any other normal human being.
     


  6. mordecai

    mordecai Immoderator

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    What are you, a first year at Wellesley? If you want to shoot tired, pretentious subject matter, just take pictures of your feet. Problem solved.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012


  7. aizan

    aizan Senior member

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    getting her food and drink was nice. i probably would have asked some rude questions like, "how do you get food?", "where do you sleep?", "what's dangerous about being homeless?", "is it really all that bad?", "what have you learned?", "do you have a routine?", "do you have any health problems that you didn't have before?", "what do you think about all the people that either pretend to ignore you or totally ignore you for reals?", etc.

    anyhow, there are great photos of homeless people, and you don't have to ask permission to be ethical.
     


  8. redcaimen

    redcaimen Bigtime

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    [​IMG]
     


  9. lasbar

    lasbar Senior member

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    Why do you want to take pictures of them in the first place?

    If you do it to help to underline the homeless situation , just tell them and they wil give you their consents.

    They can be quite defensive because some people tend to picture them for some kind of voyeurist kick..
     


  10. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    Obviously.


    I have no social cause and I wasn't seeking to photograph a homeless person--I discovered she was homeless after I started taking her picture. I found most people (maybe even nine out of ten) very receptive to being photographed when asked politely. In fact, one person said no because he was having a bad day, apologized profusely, then approached me later to say he felt bad about before and asked if I'd be willing to shoot him now.
     


  11. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    I think asking for permission is all that is necessary.
     


  12. curzon

    curzon Senior member

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    Tough one. Since you're doing portraits you're accepting poses. If you wanted "unposed" shots it's kinda tough once you ask for permission; people change when they know they're being watched/photographed/filmed. If I understand the law correctly, in the US a person in a public space may be photographed w/o giving permission (no expectation of privacy), but in some countries you can find yourself on the wrong side of the law by doing so.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012


  13. romafan

    romafan Senior member

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    Are you shooting people at the office? :confused:
     


  14. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    No--but I was around the same area the whole time.
     


  15. lasbar

    lasbar Senior member

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    Most people are fine with their pictures being taken...

    Living in Paris during my teens and being more attractive than now , I have had my picture taken a few times by amateur photographs..

    It's always pleasant to be asked even if you might lose that special moment making the picture interesting.

    You can also be asked after the shot being done especially if you use a digital camera.

    It's just a question of courtesy..
     


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