A Traveling Photographer’s Code of Ethics

The Photo Foodies have posted a sensible, compassionate, clear ethics code for photographers, particularly applicable to those working in foreign countries. It concentrates on the act of taking the photograph, not what one does with the image afterward.

Excellent work, Photo Foodies, and thanks for not calling the site “Foto Foodies.” I know it must have been a temptation.

You can read the entire post here. These are the tenets of the code:
1.  Always ask for permission if you are going to do a portrait or photograph someone’s property. We do this as a courtesy, and to avoid any uncomfortable moments between us and the subjects. If someone says “no”, we suggest people to walk away.  If you’re planning to sell your photographs, have a release form ready for your subject.

2. Talk to your subjects, and kindly explain what is your motivation, or intended use for the photo. Be honest about the way you are going to use the photos. Never impose yourself or be sneaky. For example, if you are going to photograph someone performing a controversial activity, or something you don’t agree with, let your subject know.  People have the right to know how their photos are going to be used in the future, especially if it’s to accompany an article, blog post or an essay about your position.

3. Don’t use a different language to criticize people while you’re photographing them. Be courteous.

4. Be courteous to fellow photographers. Don’t get in the way of a colleague when he/she is working.  Find your own, personal vision without interrupting others or trying to “steal” a shot.  You’re not in a war zone when you are in a pleasure, collaborative trip. Remember you’re part of a team.

5. If you don’t speak the language, put your body language to work! Point the camera to let people know you want to photograph them.  Point at objects or activities to show your interest.  Or, if you’re interested in getting better knowledge about a place or event, find a bilingual guide…

6. Always ask parents and guardians for permission when it comes to photographing children. Never take photos of children if their parents say no.

7. Engage with your subject….Honor your subjects’ time and job.  And give them a smile back!

8. Be kind to animals.

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