Photographing the Homeless. What's Your Ethics On this?
I was talking to an attorney today about this subject (so take that into consideration), and he stated that when he retired he would be interested in taking some B&W photos of our city's homeless population. I told him that I thought it was not a good idea and told him why.
My thinking is quite simple....everyone is someone's son or daughter. No one would want to see their children, or their mom or dad, portrayed at such a point in their lives. I always make a conscious effort not to photograph people in a demeaning or compromising manner. Catch them at their best is my motto, not their worst. I told the guy that there was certainly a lot of character in some of the faces, and he said yes, that was what he was talking about. Somehow though he never made the connection about making a good shot and portraying someone in an unfavorable light.
Now I'm not talking about a situation where you ask someone if you could take their photo, and explain that once it was taken who knows where it might appear. There's no ethical issue there. But taking candid shots of people when they're down and then exhibiting them or posting them online seems way out of bounds. How do other photographers see this? I think we have a moral and ethical responsibility to our photos and the people portrayed in them after they're made. Once an image is made, control over it often gets away from us. I think it's better to err on the side of good taste and ethical behavior. Or, how would I like to be presented if my life came to this?