A photograph is the traveler’s most convenient souvenir: a picture costs nearly nothing and it’s simple to take. Plus, you can document your own experience, unique in the face of mass-produced memorabilia travelers cart home daily.
Ethical concerns arise, though, when the photographer’s focus is people. How are photographs used, and how are those photographed depicted, even exploited? An image of a woman burdened with plastic jugs of water, a dirt road at her feet, raises urgency in the viewer. Use it as the face of a non-profit, and both the photographer and the non-profit receive benefits in the form of praise and donations. But what does the woman pictured get?
It’s easy to imagine a photographer’s role as passive – stand back, observe and snap. But a photographer has the power of representation. Ethical Traveler calls on those working in the field to enlighten more casual travel photographers. They describe how they set his own code of ethics: Should you ask for consent before photographing someone? What happens when a photo perpetuates a stereotype? Read more at Ethical Traveler to see the ways in which photography can empower or haunt those on both sides of the lens.