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Travel Photography.

Photography has the power to inspire, educate, and uplift - 

but used carelessly it can objectify, degrade, and violate.

Image by Karthikeyan K

Poverty Exploitation

Image by Joshua Hoehne

Consent + The Right

to Privacy (FPIC)

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Trees From Above

Environmental Impact

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Image by Artem Labunsky

Misrepresentation + The Preservation of Dignity

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Walking through the torii

Respecting Cultural Differences and Context

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Image by Adrien Olichon

Purpose + Impact

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"it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed."

- Susan Sontag, On Photography

Image by Jonathan Kho Ming Jun

Poverty Exploitation

Their reality is not our spectacle.

Poverty Exploitation

poverty-porn (noun)

media which exploits the condition of people living in poverty for the purpose of attracting attention or social and financial gain for an individual or organization.

At it's core poverty-porn dehumanizes individuals, stripping them of their value, replacing individuality with the label of helplessness. It overlooks the nuance and cause of their situation, deincentivises their inclusion in discussions and involvement in their own narrative and furthers the divide between poor and privelaged, audience and subject. 


How to spot poverty-porn

Identify it

Dehumanising Portrayals

Look out for images which:

Look down on the individual and rely on pity to grab attention.



Look out for images which:

Associate a persons culture or appearance with stereotypes of poverty.

Suggesting Helplessness

Look out for images which:

Portray an individual who can only be lifted out of poverty by the help of foreign aid. 

Better Practices: 

What to do

Ask yourself why you're drawn to take that particular image,

Place yourself in the subjects shoes, how would you feel you were being portrayed in those circumstances.

Never make assumptions about the subject.

Image by Artem Labunsky

Misrepresentation + Preservation of Dignity

Every individual has the right to control their public identity.

Consent +

The Right to Privacy

Privacy is more than a 

How it happens

Misrepresentation + Preservation of Dignity

Strips people of their identity and defines them by their culture or circumstance

Defines a broader group by one selected image

Would they/you approve of being placed on display at that moment, in that way?

Everyone's daily actions can be taken out of context - paparazzi 

"Poverty paparazzi"

"The camera has the power to catch so-called normal people in such a was as to make them look abnormal" - Susan Sontag

Consent + The Right to Privacy + The Right to Control ones Identity

Consent to take the photo?

Consent regarding the usage of the photo?

Afford the subject the same rights you would to a western model

 - right to be displayed in a dignified way

 - right to see the end images

 - moral rights

 - right to fair compensation if the image will be making you money .....

Remember you have the power to assign them an identity which they cannot likely undo or change after the fact. You are in a position of power over them, especially if they do not have access to the same audience, social media, reach etc.


Cultural Differences

What is acceptable in your home town is not always acceptable elsewhere

Things you dont even think about consciously may cause harm to others

Extreme Examples

Subtle/missed/hidden Examples


Prevents people from seeing the complexities behind the poverty and having meaningful discussions on real solutions.

Strips the subject of their dignity

Strengthens the divide between "us" and "them" through visuals

it causes us to overlook positive atributes of individuals - favouring instead to portray individuals as a part of a collective poor.

removes the voice from the photographed

Safeguarding against it ("things you can do")

Further reading - good example

Photography may be the only industry in the world to seek out the suffering of others for the simple intention of chasing an aesthetic


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Trees From Above

Environmental Impact

Cultural Differences

Privacy Rights (+ witness protection etc)

Poverty Exploitation (+ preserving dignity)

Accurate Context (and avoiding misrepresentations)

End Purpose 

Environmental impact

Photographs pass as unquestionable truth. Percieved proof an event happened as depicted.

Photographs inherit a perceived innoscence and neutrality

Travel - proof that fun was had.

"The omnipresence of cameras persuasively suggests that time cinsists of interesting events, events worth photographing" S Sontag.

The camera turns people into objects which can be posessed, admired, judged.

Like all art forms, photographs can not and do not contain emotion, they present stimuli to the audiences own emotions. A vaguely aimed means of pushing buttons, sometimes deliberately, sometimes incidentally. Often the 'deeper' the image in question, the more ambiguous the stimuli. 

Social Media

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1: Jean M. Twenge, Thomas E. Joiner, Megan L. Rogers, Gabrielle N. Martin (2017) Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time 

70% of teens say they've felt not good enough or

not attractive in the last month.

67% feel they have to create the perfect image.

Teen Mental Health Deep Dive, Instagram 2019

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Understanding your impact.

Our content,

Our audience,

Our responsibility.

Teengers with Laptop

All content has an impact.

Make yours positive.


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