Socially Responsible Photography

Socially Responsible Photography

Photography has been around for more than a century and with it comes the responsibility of using photographs in a variety of contexts. As photography has changed, so have its uses and access. Everyone with a camera is capable of taking a photograph that can be used differently. It is important to be aware of the impact that photography may have in society.

As mentioned before, photography is a useful tool to study and document other cultures. As in the example of anthropology and photography, there could be conflicting issues between the photographer and the people of the culture. There are other aspects of social responsibility in the context of culture. It is important to consider what are the values and beliefs about photography in certain cultures. This is particularly important for casual photographers or tourist and travelers that use photography to document their trips. It is important to consider how the camera is perceived in different cultures and how people may be affected by photography in certain cultures.

A socially responsible photographer is one that respects other people’s beliefs about photography. Those beliefs include respecting values, privacy, address needs of society through photography, and being aware of how photography impacts others. The concept of social responsibility in photography depends in the context that photography is being used. There are different definitions for socially responsible photographers depending on what context photography is being implemented. Such differences exist in disciplines such as photojournalism, anthropology, social science research, and cross-cultural reference but also in common and casual photography.

Photography is a very powerful medium to communicate anything. With this power comes the responsibility of using photography to the best interest of society. In the context of addressing society needs, a socially responsible photographer is one that uses photography to send a message about issues that affect our society. One example is using photography to communicate climate change and create awareness about the impact that people are having on the planet. In this instance, the photographer is being responsible about his role in society as a photographer that has access to images such as the one shown to the right.

With the growing field of information technology comes the responsibility of using photography through a medium that can be widely accessible, the Internet. Yet this space is also another opportunity to use photography to address the needs of society. Social media has been widely used for several social movements through images and posts. This is another powerful medium to try to make an impact in society. Social movement such as the one described in the picture above have had a great impact on different aspects of society including creating pressure for policy makers to resolve such social issues. This particular one shown above addresses the issue of children trafficking for sex purposes, in particular the case where 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped in 2014. This is just one example of the many social movements through social media. The use of this medium to create awareness about a particular social issue can be considered to be socially responsible photography.

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Socially Responsible Photography



Photography as an Art in India

‘Desires Wrought upon the Surface of an Image’: Photography as an Art in India | ShahidulNews

B. Syed, Dabhol
Young Girl tinting a photograph
hand tintedgelatin silver print
mid 20th century, 223 x 280 mm.
Courtesy The Alkazi Collection of Photography.

The concept of ‘Art Photography’ presents a conceptual and ideological dilemma that has persisted from photography’s invention in 1839 and the pioneering work of Fox Henry Talbot, The Pencil of Nature (1844-6). The early period was one of lively experiments, but in its growing stages there was a significant lacuna between amateurs and professionals. The ‘Art’ of photography may refer to pictorial conventions adapted by photographers, or indeed how photography as an art form is now on par with the lure (both aesthetic and economic) of painting.

Arrival in India

Photography first arrived in India in the ports around 1840, followed by the establishment of societies in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It became a means of bridging the fields of patronage and industry, and of displaying the vast cultural tapestry of the people. With rising commerce and trade, the need for sophisticated studios steadily increased. People from all walks of life saw themselves magically imprinted on paper, and with time, photography was no longer treated as an isolated form of documentation or surveillance ………………….