Goa, shrines, photography and controversy

There is still scope for discussion about what should be the rules for photography within a religious shrine, and outside a religious shrine (but within its property). I can understand the ire of those who feel they are being reduced to a spectacle when their intention might be to run a house for prayer.

Besides, there can be a far detailed discussion on principles of photographing persons, as I realised while searching for some other views on this subject.

Centre for Media Literacy has this page “Photo Ethics: Aim High When You Shoot” which raises issues about how people should be treated on camera. (In Rajan Parrikar’s original post, the issue was not people, but since JoeGoaUK raises it…)

Some pointers which struck me as worth considering:

* [W]hen photographing people do not treat them as if they were things.
* Do not take people’s pictures, give images, especially to the imageless.
* Never depict people as useless or inadequate. It is their helplessness which has to be shown.
* Do not invade anybody’s privacy except when it is necessary for depicting certain social situations.
* Yet, boldly reach into personal life, bearing in mind that the photographs you take are your brothers’ and sisters.
* There is no need to prettify people and objects; they have their beauty, and a good photograph exudes beauty.
* Sensationalism diverts attention from the essential.
* Shun extra long lenses. A short lens draws you near your subject.
* Try to establish a rapport with the person you photograph.
* Your social concern is to document life with empathy.
* Be true to the image people want to have of themselves, but at the same time do show what you believe is their real image. The dignity of the poor, in particular, demands that their situation be known.
* A documentary coverage can never be total. Complete a biased image by another biased image.
* Be an iconoclast – a destroyer of established images.
* Photos should not be used to exploit the persons portrayed.
* Ethical documentary photography is not your sole responsibility. But your photographs encourage certain responses in the viewer.


We can agree to disagree, but all I’m saying is that the issues involved as not as simple as they first seem.

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