Guidelines for ethical photography and storytelling in the post-George Floyd era

Tips & Techniques

The death of George Floyd this May sparked protests across the USA and even internationally. These events make us reevaluate many things, including the ethics of storytelling and photography. In this week’s episode of Impact Everywhere’s podcast, Benjamin Von Wong spoke to Danielle Da Silva. She is an award-winning photographer, and a founder and CEO of Photographers Without Borders (PWB). Danielle spoke with Ben about her own experience with discrimination, and elaborated on PWB’s guidelines for ethical photography. If you’re a photojournalist, this is something you must listen. But honestly, I recommend it to everyone.

As half white, half Muslim Indian, Danielle faced severe discrimination throughout her childhood and teenage years. She shared her own experience and thoughts with Ben, and she says that it was what pushed her towards activism. While activism is important, Danielle points out that activist desire to change the world often comes from a colonial perspective. This is why she stands for decolonization in activism.

In the podcast, Danielle reflects on PWB’s guidelines for ethical photography. She elaborates on each of them, also reflecting on the current events caused by George Floyd’s death. These are the rules in short:

  1. People have voices, we amplify them
  2. Strive to be a good ally
  3. Do no harm
  4. Represent people and communities accurately
  5. Obtain explicit consent
  6. Retain integrity
  7. Do not accept compensation, favors or gifts that might influence the outcome of the project
  8. No selfies or photographs with wildlife

Danielle also points out one of the most common mistakes journalists and activists make – not listening. Instead of having your voice heard, listen to the voices of the less privileged and amplify them with your reporting, photos and storytelling. And if you’re not sure what to do, listen to experts.

As I said, I found this episode really enjoyable to watch. It’s especially important to hear it right now, and I recommend it to anyone who is related with photography or journalism in any way. You can find the episode on Spotify, Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts.

[via Impact Everywhere]

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