My friend Tyler has a post over at Image Journal’s Good Letters blog, in which he talks about bringing his camera into Robben Island prison in South Africa. His reflections are wise, and worth reading:
And I wonder what is really going on when we point a camera at a home that is not ours, or a church, or a gravesite. I wonder what it means to photograph a foreigner, hang pictures of their children in our coffee shops, to snap unthinkingly at the farmer in the farmer’s market, or shoot the old couple in the park.
. . .
If the camera with its ability to rend a scene from a complex world is able to similarly exclude poverty and ignore pain, both personal and community-wide, if it can create false realities, if it can alienate, debase, or stereotype the other, then I pray we use it with conscious care and intent, so that our army of lenses brings healing and not further bondage.
It’s worth a read, especially in this age where everyone has a camera readily available in their smartphones. How often do we think about the ethics of taking pictures—and how do we navigate that?