Week 5: Responsibilities

A busy but rewarding week! The theme was responsibilities which encompassed the role of the photographer in creating an image and their ethical considerations. The UKIP image that was used for the forum discussion generated quite a lot of interesting responses, not being a professional photographer these were very insightful, as was the discussion on ethical practice. This was a learning experience to understand how others position their practice and what they consider their ethical boundaries are. I was quite surprised by the UKIP misuse of an image, I don’t pay much attention to UK politics as an expat so missed this first time round.

Refugees cross from Croatia into Slovenia in October 2015 (c) Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images https://goo.gl/gtrmU6 (Links to an external site.)

To quote the photographer (Jeff Mitchell) “I knew exactly what lens I was going to use, to compress the group, to show how many people were there. I could have walked with them the whole length, photographing how people were struggling, but you can sum it all up in one picture.”

From the outset the photographer made a decision to manipulate the representation of the situation on the ground to portray the influx of refugees, you could question the ethics of doing this in an already emotive topic. Is it an objective image if it’s framed in such a way to get across a particular point of view, in this instance “how many people there were there”.

Not that the photographer could have known a political party would pick up on the image and employ it to misrepresent the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Europe’s borders. Using the image in a politically motivated poster to further a discriminatory agenda and exploit an already desperate situation for those displaced raises serious ethical concerns. Comparisons with 1930s anti-Semitic propaganda were voiced. That no UKIP staffer raised objections to the poster or publishers or advertising agencies that posted it, raises further concerns on the ethical standards being practiced at those agencies.

The second forum discussion was on the topic of ethical practice, I posted about photographing migrant workers in the local area, an interesting reply from a peer that my intent is unclear. This is correct as I have not decided on where I want to go with this potential project. There are quite some issues outside of ethics that need to be dealt with, however it is a very interesting group to learn about and photograph. Still, sharp insight from a peer which will make it less complex to analyse once a decision is made on the project.

Risk assessment was covered as a final topic, was good to brush up and hear about some considerations specific to a photographic project. Of course, the more ambitious the project, the greater the risk needing to be managed and mitigations evaluated.

I spent a lot of time this week on my oral presentation and just managed to have it uploaded in time for our peer review session on Friday evening. We talked through our plans and challenges and how well projects would scale out to FMP and if there was enough latitude in them to change course. This was a very useful session, and it’s great to talk to people on the course, the forum is definitely not my favourite way of communicating, much prefer talking, way faster flow of ideas.

The amount of work required for the course is much more challenging than I expected, I constantly feel in catch-up mode and rushed to get things done. It’s not negative, just a lot to do.

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