View Full Version : Responsibility
05-19-2005, 09:47 AM
What responsibility do you feel to the place where you take your photos? Considering the fact that TE is a huge community, and the people interested in photography and the world tend to end up being those who create influence later on, do you feel that you have some responsibility to show the places you shoot in a positive way?
In my case, I want to show the beauty of Korea. Im a guest in this country, and I feel that showing some of the beauty of this place, I can create interest in the country. Not on a huge scale, but at least among the members of this community. Looking at my album perhaps, you would be more inclined to read up on, or visit Korea. However, if I was to show many pics full of seedy scenes, I think I would be doing a large disservice to this place.
Is this something that plays in your choice of subjects? do you think twice about posting some photo that will leave negative connotations in the minds of those who view your work? What do you see as your photographic "mission"?
06-27-2005, 06:53 AM
An interesting question mate. I'm surprised no-one has put in the effort to answer it yet.. I think that photographers on this site should not exhibit only the 'good things' about a country, person or situation. If it were that we, as members of this community, should really learn about the world through photography, then we should not be mislead into thinking any country is perfect, or infinately beautiful from a tourist's perspective. Indeed, this is one of the major problems with conceptions of the world beyond our own (i.e. other countries and people) in that we normally only hear about two things from other countries - news (which is usually bad, otherwise it wouldn't be 'news') and tourist attractions (which are picked by businesses and governments in order to lure people into visiting a country). Any other information tends to come from research or discussion with other people, which seldom happens nowadays in our everyday busy lives. This is not the kind of situation that allows us to really 'learn' about other countries and people.
So, I think that we have not so much a responsibility to show the 'full story' about other countries and people, but to strive to exhibit all that we can from our rather limited perspectives as ameteur/tourist photographers. At least then viewers will get more of an understanding of the world through photography, as distinct from an understanding of the world through news media and commercialism.
06-27-2005, 10:35 PM
This is an interesting question, although I have some difficulties answering as I never got out of Portugal, much less photograph other countries.
Still, my idea is that we should not hide the negative aspects of a country or place, BUT, we must be extra careful not to analyse their reality influenced by pre-conceived ideas or prejudices common in our country / culture.
A good basis for someone to critique is to use the Human Rights values. Someone starving, or sleeping in the street because they have no other place, children working or begging, handicaps in poverty arenít good in any country. Of course someone living in poverty because of religious convictions is something much more delicate and requiring a greater analysis and sensibility.
Also, if we see monuments almost destroyed or abandoned I think we have the right to regret that the country leave them like that, but we must also consider the priorities and difficulties of these countries. Of course a poor country is less likely to worry about a decaying ruin if people are starving and canít be easily criticized. But if they are destroyed by war I donít think itís harmful to point that out.
So, the main rule is to base our values in universal values when analysing these countries and situations, and also in the knowledge of the people in question.
06-30-2005, 08:30 AM
This seems a simple question, but with a very complex answer. Until what point do we show indeed the country? Many posted photos (for example, portraits, some social themes...) could be taken not maybe anywhere in the world, but in a larger area than a single country. It is the view of society, the view of the world, no matter where we do live. And that one is the view of the photographer towards reality. It is the website that requires us to say where it was taken, not us.
Regarding the pictures that intend to present one single country (I have many like that!), well, I am a guest in China, I passed through Italy (lived there one year in my student times) and of course I have a Portuguese - or Western - view of things. There are many things I don't feel confortable in other countries - they are not my own - and even in mine - it is not like the others! However, although trying to be objective, although thinking culture doesn't influence, better to accept it as it does, and use it. Therefore, photos are "a" view, not "the" view of the country. I like things others don't, others like things I don't, that is what completes the view of a country. Even for negative points, we make the view complete. Others may complement it. The error is for whom rellies in just one view of a country, instead of several views.
07-01-2005, 05:07 AM
same as Joseelias, not much out of Portugal, but nevertheless i think that it all depends of what kind of photographer are you! if you are a "simple" tourist with a cam then it's normal that you see only the good things... most of the time the touristic route completly overcome the poverty in one place, right?
If you are a photographer in holidays then it's normal that you seek the other side of the story... it's normal that you avoid the clichťs and try to find the other version of a place.
I think a good example is India, here in TL there are many amazing guys taking photos of India, the "good" India and the "Bad" India... however even the photos from poor places have something special in them, normally the people.
Then, it all resumes the spirit of who's behind the camera, there's many way to portrait a scene of poverty
07-01-2005, 08:30 AM
i think Ricardo has brought up an interesting point about objectivity here. should we try to be objective? i don't think we can... i mean, even if we try to show things in 'best light', without interpretation and bias, the very action of us taking a photo of a particular object or subject means that we are picking one frame out of a multitude of possibilities. so, we are never being 'objective' even when we try.
of course, we should never try mislead the viewer into thinking something unreal about a country and its people, but in this case the real responsibility for interpretation should be in the hands of the audience. the viewer should know that when he/she sees a photo and reads the note, that it is only one particular perspective out of many.
perhaps this means that we should include more information in our personal profiles as to who, and what our orientations, are. But i guess this may be taking the matter too far :-)