Homeless People

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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Legally, one can take a picture of anything that is in public view. That being said a discussion on the ethics and morals behind photographing the homeless can begin. The roll of a photographer, especially a photojournalist is to record news, to truthfully tell a story. To omit people or take people from one environment into another would be altering a scene, changing the truth. In doing so, a photographer would be misleading the viewers.

In order for a photograph to be a successful candid, the subject has to be either unaware of the photographer, or not care that the photographer is there. Candid street photography tells a story and makes a connection between the subject, photographer, and the viewer. To produce a successful candid requires some thought. A photographer does not want to ridicule, demean or deny the right to dignity that each subject inherently beholds, nor does the photographer want to submit to the voyeuristic needs of the viewer.

In recording a photograph the artist looks to create a work that has some context.

More times that not, photographs that are situated in a happy, serene context are welcomed, and go unquestioned. But, put in a context of misery and the questions of ethics and morals arise. A candid shot of a man on his horse drawn cart in the park goes unquestioned; but the photograph of a man sitting in the park eating lunch raises an issue. Both photographs are successful candid shots. The man on the horse because he did not know he was being photographed, and the man eating because he didn't care. Two separate photographs of two different men in the park. Neither photograph ridiculed, demeaned or denied the right to dignity of its subject, nor did it submit to voyeurism. Why then did...