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Thoughts about travel photography involving people

Thoughts about travel photography involving people

Old Jan 18th, 2015, 05:58 PM
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Bingo? Well, maybe…. But I doubt that most tourists are walking around markets or public squares thinking that it’s OK to take people’s pictures without permission because who knows when some unbelievable atrocity might occur.

I remember reading the account of a professional photographer who just happened to be positioned to take pictures of a devastating human tragedy as it unfolded. As I recall, he took the pictures, felt compelled to obtain permission before publishing them, and then struggled with the awareness that doing so added another layer of intrusion into an already horrid situation. He did get permission before publishing, at least one of those pictures won a major award, and his pictures of the events helped inform many people about a risk they had hitherto failed to understand.

So yes, I think the potential benefits to society are worth considering – along with potential costs to society (e.g., a loss of rights to privacy – and yes, I say that even in a world where rights to privacy are increasingly limited) and along with the costs and benefits to those being photographed. JMO.
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Old Jan 18th, 2015, 07:56 PM
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And it isn't just by recording atrocity that photography benefits society.

Does anyone here remember the book of photographs from that big photography show in the late 1950s called "The Family of Man"? It was very well-known at the time, and my parents had the book. I remember that along with National Geographic, it was very influential for me as a child. I just looked it up on Wikipedia:
and found the information that the show traveled all over the world, and was seen by more than 9 million people.

Anyway, I bring it up because a great many of the photos were candid, and while some did document horror, many also showed people experiencing love, friendship, dignity, creativity, and so many other positive things.

The forward to the book was written by the poet Carl Sandburg, who is also a Pulitzer winner. In fact he won 3. He rhapsodized about the deep value of the photos to the human soul.

And that is as much a reason to value candid photography as are journalistic depictions of war, hate or tragedy.

As Sandburg wrote about the photography:
"Many the babies and grownups here from photographs made in sixty-eight nations round our planet Earth. You travel and see what the camera saw. The wonder of human mind, heart, wit and instinct, is here. You might catch yourself saying, "I'm not a stranger here."

People! flung wide and far, born into toil, struggle, blood and dreams, among lovers, eaters, drinkers, workers, loafers, fighters, players, gamblers. Here are iron- workers, bridgemen, musicians, sandhogs, miners, builders of huts and skyscrapers, jungle hunters, landlords and the landless, the loved and the unloved, the lonely and abandoned, the brutal and the compassionate—one big family hugging close to the ball of Earth for its life and being.

Here or there you may witness a startling harmony where you say, "This will be haunting me a long time with a loveliness I hope to understand better."
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 02:12 PM
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rje, thanks for posting. This thread and your posts, especially, have been fascinating. Makes me glad I prefer to photograph animals and landscapes
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