Sharjah: Ethical considerations while capturing images of ‘people in distress’ were brought to limelight during the ongoing 7th Xposure International Photography Festival, taking place at Expo Centre Sharjah from February 9 to 15.
During a session titled “The Role of Photography in Humanitarian Stories” held at the festival’s Stage X, Ola Anan, Communications Associate and Amina Aktouf, Senior Outreach Associate at UNHCR, shared guidelines on how to get consent for taking photos, and what to do when consent cannot be obtained, such as by blurring faces to conceal identities.
Anan opened the session by emphasising the critical role photographers play in documenting the experiences and struggles of marginalised communities, raising awareness of human rights abuses, and highlighting the consequences of conflict and other humanitarian crises. “Photographs have the power to move people, inspire empathy, and spur action,” said Anan.
She also stressed the importance of photography as an advocacy tool, providing visual evidence of human suffering and shaping public opinion.
Aktouf shared her own experience photographing in refugee camps, among Rohingya and Syrian refugees, and internally displaced people in Nigeria. She encouraged photographers to engage and build trust with displaced individuals to effectively use their lenses to promote positivity. She also voiced the importance of highlighting inspiring stories of resilience, courage, and hope, and avoiding capitalising on the pain of refugees.
Both speakers acknowledged photography as a tool for storytelling and creating social change, with the power to inspire action and bring attention to important humanitarian issues. The informative session addressed the ethical considerations for photographing refugees, asylum seekers, and forcibly displaced individuals, with the aim of preserving their dignity and privacy.
The discussions at Stage X are a critical aspect of the 2023 edition of the Xposure International Photography Festival. The festival brings together leading institutions and renowned photographers to delve into a range of photography-related topics.