Blog #66 The Photographer’s Ethical Responsibility to Photography
Ethics related to photography usually involves the responsibility of the photographer to the individual being photographed. In most places, people in public can be photographed and images can be used under a fair use clause. For commercial purposes when money will be exchanged or for marketing or promotional reasons, written permissions are usually required. Model releases and property releases are necessary for commercial purposes. For more on this subject, check out Blog #14 & Blog #15.
What about the photographers’ ethical responsibility to photography itself or other photographers for that matter. Do we need to give back? I would argue that yes we do. While there is nothing wrong with shooting for oneself and the hobbyist and/or amateur does just that without constraints. The professional photographer, however, ought to answer to a higher authority, so to speak. It’s simply the right thing to do.
Printing and sharing images for friends, family, and others can be fun and helps to give photography a good name. John Free, street photographer from LA, takes this notion one step further and would say that if you do not share your photos “You’re a punk!”.
He goes on to posit that photography is a gift. I agree.
Photography is a gift that should be shared. As professionals, we have an obligation to do so. There are multiple ways in which we can share and give back to the field. Critique, prints, classes, workshops and tutorials, or simply being a supportive and positive force through social media are but a few vehicles in which photographers can communicate and return the gifts that have been given to them.
I have been fortunate to be involved in a photography series of classes through an international school in which I work. Teaching students to shoot, develop, and print film has been an immensely rewarding experience. I find enjoyment in sharing images and prints of my friends and family. Sometimes I will go the extra mile and get the prints framed professionally before giving them away. People really enjoy the gesture and I get a kick out the experience of sharing my images.
My fiend Mike has a small Instax printer and snaps photos, prints, and hands them out along the way. This is exemplary and helps to establish the act of photographing people (even strangers) as a fun, harmless, and collaborative process. More photographers should do this sort of thing. Everyone would benefit from this type of selfless sharing.
“I wish I hadn’t given away so many of my photographs”, said the photographer on their deathbed, never!
I think I will get T-shirts made with these words. Would you buy one? What size are you? Orders start soon.
Remember, the light is always right.