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  1. #1

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    It bugged me and made me think

    There is a photo I saw. It is not the subject that bugs me it is the location. The location is very sacred to the culture I am surrounded by everyday. I showed it to a very traditional man and his response was "I hope something bad happens to...." I asked why and was told that it was a sacred place and the picture made it not sacred it made it "small and unimportant".

    This got me thinking. When we go out to make photographs, do we take into account the cutlure of the area we are photographing? Living in the SW I am surrounded by many cultures with differing views of photography. I have to keep these in mind when I go out.

    Do you think we as photographers, artists, shadow catchers whatever you want to call yourself, have the obligation to respect the culture of the region/country we are in, or are we free to do what we want?

    Edit: This post was edited by the moderstors so no one be offended. So it makes sense I have edited it further.
    Last edited by mark; 02-24-2006 at 10:36 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  2. #2
    ouyang's Avatar
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    There is a very nice book written with different essays on photography as it is seen or has been received by "other" cultures. it is called "photography's other histories" and is very interesting: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...06/ai_n9453292
    is a link to a description of the book.

    I think that this is closely connected to weighing the "damage" you might inflict taking photos of others (even in your own culture) against the "good" you intend your photos
    to do..

    every time you take a photo of a photo of someone this is a question you need to have straightened out in my view, and photographing someone from another culture (or places etc. belonging to another culture) only makes this a harder question to answer...

    Best,

    Onno

  3. #3
    david b's Avatar
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    well I too live in the SW, santa fe to be exact, and it's hard not to photograph something that is scared.

    Between the Native American and Mexican cultures here, the only thing left to photograph is the Chamisa in my front yard.

    But that is why I love this place. Because it is so sacred.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mark
    There is a photo I saw. It is not the subject that bugs me it is the location. The location is very sacred to the culture I am surrounded by everyday. I showed it to a very traditional man and his response was "I hope something bad happens to...." I asked why and was told that it was a sacred place and the picture made it not sacred it made it "small and unimportant".

    This got me thinking. When we go out to make photographs, do we take into account the cutlure of the area we are photographing? Living in the SW I am surrounded by many cultures with differing views of photography. I have to keep these in mind when I go out.

    My concern is do you think we as photographers, artists, shadow catchers what have you, have the obligation to respect the culture of the region/country we are in, or are we free to do what we want?

    Side note. If this gets out of hand please delete it.
    Good question Mark. I'm positive it varies for everyone.
    Their knowledge or ignorance of their subject has a bearing.
    And whether, if they are armed with understanding of the possible effects of taking their photographs, their own values and moral judgement are sufficient to temper their actions.

    I like to think my own values and cultural sensitivity are reasonably high. Perhaps NZer's generally don't like treading on the toes of other cultures. Experience photographing in other countries though; on occasions I've often employed an approach of shoot first and apologise afterwards. I simply wasn't armed with sufficient information about the circumstances other than knowing I could lose a great shot. I guess in these case fell into the ignorant basket. But out of the thousands of images made offshore, I've only been yelled at once, and photo didn't happen.

    I think core values of the photographer help in circumstances where a quick decision has to be made.

  5. #5
    Rlibersky's Avatar
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    All of the Black Hills is sacred. It would be tough to be aware of all the possible offenses we make when taking photos. You have to go with your own heart on this one.

  6. #6

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    Don't show your photos to the traditional man. What he doesn't know won't hurt him.
    art is about managing compromise

  7. #7

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    Avandesande,
    So you are saying you have the right to do what we want.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  8. #8
    roteague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rlibersky
    All of the Black Hills is sacred. It would be tough to be aware of all the possible offenses we make when taking photos. You have to go with your own heart on this one.
    Yes, but just because the area is sacred to someone, doesn't mean they automatically are offended by someone photographing it. It never hurts to learn a little about the culture of an area you are going to visit; in fact, sometimes that can be just as rewarding as the actual photography itself. I agree with John, sometimes you have to just go with your gut feeling, but always be open to others sensitivities.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  9. #9

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    g'day Mark
    maybe intent is the important consideration
    in a completely just/fair/equitable/non bigotted/nice world it would be that every individual was aware of and respectful to and for every other individual and group
    alas, in the real world, it is not possible to be aware of every nuance of belief and cultural significance
    any group or individual may well have a justifiable and long standing 'claim' to a place or thing, but should that stop another group or individual developing a claim or attachment to the same place or thing



    excellent question

  10. #10

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    There are dozens of situations. Suppose I am in Morocco, and I take some fantastic photograph. In the photograph is someone who most likely would of hidden their face if they knew you are photographing since you will have captured their soul. Are you going to throw the negative in the trash? Are you going to take a print and show it to them? Are you just going to go home and treat it like any other photo?
    art is about managing compromise

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