Using photographs in development communication

Submitted by priyanthi on July 10, 2007 - 5:16am.

Does anyone have any guidelines about using photographs in development communications? In the organisation for which I work, we do not like using images of liquid eyed children to depict our commitment to poverty eradication, or even to share intrusive depictions of everyday lives of the people we work for. So we have a policy of no photographs with recognisable faces. Most of us are committed photographers however, so our publications tend to be illustrated with abstract pictures. Would like to know what you think...

Submitted by Paul Currion on July 10, 2007 - 1:12pm.

Surely the issue of using photographs of people is a question of context?  There is nothing inappropriate about using a photo of somebody for a particular publication, but the message it sends can be a little more carefully crafted.  It seems strange to leave out the very people that we're claiming to help!  Perhaps the answer is to make sure that everybody you take a photo of gets a copy for themselves... but that might be a bit difficult / expensive!

Submitted by jcravens42 on July 11, 2007 - 1:28pm.

"we have a policy of no photographs with recognisable faces"

I think taking things a bit too far... human beings respond very strongly to faces and expression. Photos with faces create a much more powerful connection to a message. To limit yourself so severely... I don't really see what good it does.

You know what you don't want to do regarding photos -- no "we have a policy of no photographs with recognisable faces". Fine. What do you want to show instead? What about people working for themselves, organizing themselves, discussing among themselves, organizing, building and teaching? What messages to the people themselves want to convey to the world about themselves?

In Afghanistan, I'm working to show these kinds of photos myself, to contrast the image people have of Taliban fighters and violence in the streets. Certainly that's true, but I'm trying to balance those media images with what I believe is a much stronger reality. This is per all the comments I've heard from Afghans, saying that they want people on the outside of the country to see more than what the media shows. So, I'm trying to do what they have said they (including the women) want:

Jayne Cravens
Kabul, Afghanistan

Submitted by priyanthi on July 14, 2007 - 5:35am.

Paul's and Jayne's posts (thank you!) point to two points for a guideline:

1. making sure that everyone you take a photo of gets a copy.
2. Using photographs to challenge stereotypes and present people in the way they want to be presented.

Would anyone like to share experiences of providing the people we are photographing with a camera so they can photograph themselves? and us?

Anything else?

Submitted by andrew_c on March 23, 2009 - 1:44pm.

We have some photos taken by children who had previously suffered violence here

On guidelines on photos the FRSB has a very weak guideline "no unjustifiable distress or offence" and chickened out of a proper guideline which should be fundraisers should "never seek to cause distress as a means to raise funds". On consent it is tricky, doubly so if the charity is also the legal guardian of the child (which we generally are), so a conflict of interest exists. We sometimes use decorative photos of children who have now grown up and given proper consent and otherwise ask the child and try to minimise risk of privacy by never giving precise location or real name.

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