Man on a catamaran

Above: Man on a catamaran, Korea. Credit: Suga337.

Ethical Photography

Are the photos you have made ethical? (Morally correct, honourable?) I use a simple acronym when considering the ethics of a photo, or a shoot: CCJ. That's short for Consent, Competent, Justified.

Do you have the subject's Consent for the photo? Is the subject Competent to give that consent? For example, is the subject an adult? Is the subject drunk? Or being misled by dishonest information? And third, if no consent was given/asked for, then was your intrusion Justified? For example, a factory owner exploiting child labour will never give consent to photograph his workers, but the photos may well be justified in order to expose the crime. This third component is sometimes known as noble cause--the photographer uses unethical means towards a greater good. Sometimes in the pursuit of exposing exploitation, criminality, or maltreatment, the photographer may lie, steal, invade privacy, or even break-and-enter ... do it, but ask yourself if it is justifiable with a defence of noble cause. On the other hand, a person simply going about their daily-life surely has at least some claim to a right-to-privacy or a right to non-intrusion by photographers.

(12 February 2019)