This week in my Photojournalism Ethics lecture we were shown a slideshow containing photographs of women from various different mediums of life. The idea of this slideshow (which was based on feminist views) was to make the students think about the ethics that come with being a photojournalist and just how far we would or should go to get a successful shot or story.
The women in this slideshow, as I have mentioned before, came from different backgrounds. The first was a woman who was part of the biker group “Women in the Wind”, who had been photographed in a rather provocative stance and was showing her leg, despite wanting to come over as a serious biker and seen as a sex object. Another was a prostitute, the third was a young girl who was homeless and who was photographed taking drugs, the fourth being a group of Iranian women who played sport but wouldn’t allow themselves to be photographs without wearing their burkas in fear that they would outrage the male population of their country had the story been printed. The final one was a woman from India who had fallen victim to a acid attack and her face had been burnt.
I found a lot of these images quite heartbreaking as I felt sorry for what these women had gone through. The connection that most of them had with each other was that they were victims under male authority, for example the prostitute for obvious reasons and the burn victim. So yes, the little feminist in me found it hard to come to terms with the idea of photographing people who have been in such dire situations. I know that this is something that as a photojournalist you must overcome, but in a lot of ways outrages me that some of these stories are a completely false representation of how women are, like in the Iranian women in the fourth photograph. They wouldn’t normally wear their burkas when playing sport but because they were being photographed they insisted on wearing in fear of shaming the males in their country. The other idea as I have also mentioned before was the idea of whether, as a photojournalist you print something that is deemed as false and would it be line that you would personally cross in order to get a story. I personally feel that I would not, as a photojournalist, you are supposed to inform the truth to others and constantly find the truth in every situation that you are in. Ethically for me, its nothing to do with getting a good story, surely any story that is deemed as honest should be seen as a good story? Whether it is classed as acceptable or not.