March 17, 2022
The Center for Photography Ethics has launched a campaign to encourage photographers, editors, curators, organizations and other photography industry professionals to write and publish ethics statements.
The Belfast-based social enterprise, which was founded in 2017 and works globally, launched the campaign to ask photographers to reflect on their practice, identify their own ethical approach and share it with the world .
The Center for Photography Ethics asserted, “Amid tectonic shifts in the industry, ethics provide crucial foundations on which photographers can base their work.”
Statement of Principles
A statement of ethics is a statement of a photographer’s ethical principles and a description of how they apply those principles in their photographic practice.
By posting an ethics statement on their websites, photo professionals can encourage transparency, foster accountability, and build ethical awareness throughout the industry.
It will also be the final component of the Photography Ethics Centre’s new certification programwhich shows that an individual is actively engaged in ethics education.
Savannah Dodd, founder of the Center for Photography Ethicsnoted, “We often only have conversations about ethics when something is wrong. If we start to think and talk about ethics more proactively, when things are going well, we can integrate ethics into our photographic practice. By thinking about ethics in advance, photographers will be better equipped to answer ethical questions and make ethical decisions when they arise. By publicly articulating an ethical position, we can each help cultivate a culture of ethics within the photography industry.
The Photography Ethics Center has created an online pledge where photographers can pledge to write an ethics statement and post it on their online platforms.
You can learn more about the campaign and pledge on Photo Ethics Pledge.
To learn more about the complex issue of ethics in photography, Amateur Photographer spoke with the founder of the Photography Ethics Center, Savannah Dodd…
AP: How did you find yourself in the world of photography?
Savannah Dodd: I have a background in anthropology, but I have practiced photography since my adolescence. I still maintain my own photography practice – see Savannah Dodd Photography – alongside my work with the Center for Photography Ethics and my doctoral research in anthropology.
AP: Why did you initially create the Center for the Ethics of Photography?
Savannah Dodd: I founded the Center for Photography Ethics after spending a few months volunteering at photography festivals and galleries while living in Southeast Asia in 2016.
At these events, I had discussions with other photographers about the ethics of their practice – for example, asking for consent and the responsibility of photographers in difficult or dangerous situations. But I soon realized that I was raising ethical questions that many people had never thought of.
I realized that my training in anthropology prepared me for an ethical awareness that guided my own photographic practice, but that this awareness is not universal.
I realized that there was a gap in the ethical understanding of photographers, and it’s a gap that I can bridge. This is why, a year later, in 2017, I founded the Center for the Ethics of Photography.
Ethics are important for photography because photographs are powerful. Photographs shape how we see the world, and when we take and share photographs, we shape how others see the world. In order to meet this enormous responsibility, we need our work in photography to be underpinned by ethics.
AP: Why is it important for photographers to define their ethics?
Savannah Dodd: We make ethical decisions every time we take and share a photograph, whether we realize it or not.
Ethics shape our decisions about what we shoot, how we shoot it, how we edit that photo, where we post a photo, and how we caption it.
By taking the time to examine and articulate our own ethical stance, we can cultivate awareness of the ethical dimensions of the decisions we make, and we can make those decisions more deliberately and carefully.
Photographers who disregard ethics risk unknowingly breaking national or international laws and ethical standards regarding privacy, confidentiality, copyright, consent and child protection, among others.
These panties can be costly – in terms of time, money and reputation. Unfortunately, we often only have conversations about ethics when something is wrong, but many of the negative stories we see in the photography industry could have been avoided if photographers had proactively incorporated ethics. ethics in their workflow.
Additionally, by posting an ethics statement on their websites, photography professionals can encourage transparency, foster accountability, and build ethical awareness throughout the industry.
Of course, the ethics of a wedding photographer will be a little different from the ethics of a documentary photographer, but we can all incorporate ethics into our photographic practice.
A great example to consider for understanding ethics in product photography is Waleed Shah, who strives to break stereotypes with his work. This ethical purpose shapes his decisions about the images he produces and the clients he works with.
You can listen to him speak on our podcast here: Waleed Shah Podcast: Breaking Stereotypes
AP: What do you mean by ethics?
Savannah Dodd: There are a few important points to clarify what we mean by ethics. We cast the ethical net very broadly. Ethics isn’t just about the things that happen when you’re behind the lens.
Ethics, of course, includes things like consent and representation, but also environmental sustainability, personal safety, and respect for colleagues.
We do not offer ethical guidelines or rules. Instead, we approach ethics as subjective, contextual, and fluid.
This means that ethics are different for different people, because ethics are influenced by our life experiences and moral frameworks, ethical decisions are shaped by the contexts in which we work, and ethics change as that we grow and learn as people, as we work through different photographic genres, etc.
About the Center for Photography Ethics
The Photography Ethics Center is a social enterprise organization dedicated to raising awareness about the ethics of taking and sharing visual media.
Operating online and in person and serving a global audience, it offers a wide range of educational content through a variety of access points, including podcasts, articles, online courses and live events.
The organization works with the photography industry and other sectors that deal heavily with visual media, including international development, academia and journalism.
The organization’s core belief is that the ethics of photography have the power to change the world, and its primary goal is to embed a culture of ethics in photography.
For more information, visit the Photography Ethics Center website
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