Why do we need to make ethical considerations in photography. It certainly depends on the type of photography being done. As I work with a number of NGO’s ( Non Governmental Agencies) that use photography in their fund raising efforts. It is very easy to use photography to pull on the heart strings and play on guilty feelings, but is it ethical to do so.

Young boy watches from the outside while other kids more fortunate get dental treatment inside a school where he is not a pupil.

Young boy watches from the outside while other kids more fortunate get dental treatment inside a school where he is not a pupil.

Would the use of this picture to help raise funds be ethical ?? The picture tells a story in a single image but not necessarily the right story. Seen without explanation or context it could most certainly be used unethically or be seen as an unethical picture.

Things to consider before Photographing

  • Always get the subject’s consent first, especially if you want to do a close-up.
  • Examine your motives for shooting a particular frame. Do you want to inspire hope and understanding, or maybe even expose wrongdoing and neglect? It is not acceptable to use the photographs simply to harness pity. People who donate out of guilt tend to see subjects as pitiful objects, which is dehumanizing and disrespectful.
  • You should not bribe subjects to feign despair, anger, or other emotions, or seek to influence the “slant” of your photos in any way.
  • Think about what you want to portray in your photo. While it is fine to portray the fears and poverty of your subjects in some photos, others should also convey the community’s strengths and expectations. Never portray your subjects as useless or inadequate.

When documenting the work of these NGO’s, I try to bring forth the positive work that they are doing balanced with images of the circumstances of the people they are serving, trying to give a view of how much more work needs be done to achieve a positive outcome.

Kids waiting to be seen. They have little or no other access to dentistry

Happily waiting to see the dentist

Happily waiting to see the dentist

The balance between the positive work being done and the work that could be done and continued can be portrayed using pictures of both types (with explanations) to achieve the aims of the NGO.



No. 34L, Street 368. Phnom Penh. Kingdom of Cambodia. TELEPHONE +855 (0)12 200513


Showing the environment that people live in and how that is improved by the NGO's intervention is a must

Showing the environment that people live in

FusionAsia Photography

Young Boy helping to improve the school environment

 National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics

1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.

2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.

3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.


4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.

5. While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.

6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.

Riverside D40

7.Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.

8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.

9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.


‘Ethics’ vs. ‘Aesthetics’, ‘Art’ vs. ‘Journalism’.

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