Think Before You Click
(Adapted from Pacific Lutheran University, Taking Photos) Please be sensitive and respectful when taking pictures in other countries and cultures, especially when you want to take photographs or videos of people who are not your friends and classmates.
REFLECT ON WHY YOU'RE TAKING A PHOTO or VIDEO
Is it because you want to remember something, create a record of a place or people, or because it just seems natural? Many people take photos or video when they travel because they need to feel busy or to put something between them and their new surroundings. Take time to simply enjoy the experience and realize different types of photos/videos require time and care to take.
Try to take more interactive pictures compared to objective ones. Try to ask permission when taking pictures of people. Getting a person’s name and story as well as his/her photo can be a meaningful experience. It also will give more meaning to your photo when you bring it back and helps avoid the objectification of people that can commonly happen in photos of unfamiliar places, especially ones we think of as more "exotic".
WHAT'S IN AND WHAT'S OUT?
Think about what you want to include in your pictures, and then look at what you might be leaving out. Are you ignoring part of a person's life or the story of a town because you don't think it is "picturesque enough"? Realize that no photo or video is going to capture the reality of any place you visit, so think about how you can strive to show many different aspects of a place or culture, not just the tourist spots or well-known parts of a culture that everyone photographs.
CONSIDER AND RESPECT HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL ASPECTS AND LAWS
Most people know to ask permission to take photos or video in sacred or religious sites, but many countries also have laws against taking pictures of government buildings, etc. Even if there is no law, be respectful of the culture - a city, village, or landscape is not there for you to consume through your camera, it is part of the lives of those in your host country. Think about it: if you don’t take a picture of a homeless person here in the U.S., why would you do it while abroad?
SHOW PEOPLE YOUR PHOTOS/VIDEO
Sharing your camera and digital pictures with people encourages interaction. Kids especially like to see themselves on the camera screens. Letting people you meet play with your camera can be a hit, too.
When possible, try to find a way to give copies to the people you photograph. Getting their address and sending them photos might be an option. If you are meeting people through an organization or traveling with a company, think about sending them the photos to distribute. You could also bring photos of yourself or your family to share with people when you take their photo or meet them.
THINK ABOUT YOUR CAPTIONS
When you present a photo/video, be purposeful about captions and how you choose the labels and titles. When possible, give names, details and a greater context to the photo. Be careful about what you are/aren’t comparing the people or place to. Photos should be part of a story you can share with people once you return home. Unite for Sight, an organization that supports eye clinics worldwide, has a page on Ethics and Photography in Developing Countries: http://www.uniteforsight.org/global-health-university/photography-ethics