Many years ago I had a long talk on this subject with Dennis Thorpe, staff photographer with the Guardian UK and IMO one of the finest and most sensitive photojournalists. The conversation was motivated by a photograph of a grieving man carrying the coffin of his child of a few months who had been killed in the troubles in Belfast Northern Ireland. Dennis had made the exposure using a very wide angle lens from just 2 or 3 feet from the grieving man. When I asked him why he made the photograph and what were his feelings as he pressed the shutter he said that he made such exposures because he felt that to do so was his way of helping solve the situation.
Interestingly Dennis processed his own film so that should there be an image that he considered to be in bad taste or wrong to use he did not give the negative to the newspaper picture editor. Dennis taught me much about photographing emotive situations but I think the self editing after the event was the most important discipline that I learned. I tend to isolate myself behind the camera and make the exposures I think important and try not to let emotions influence my photo making when I shoot on the streets. It is only when I have developed the film that I make the judgement as to if I will publish the picture or destoy the negative. I thank Dennis Thorpe for teaching me to be a more careing and sensitive photographer.