I’ve just been reading an article about photojournalism by Glen Edwards in an on-line magazine. In his job he likes to document life as it is. One of the photographs in the article was of some children in white coats herding sheep at a county show. He was having a discussion about his work and the issue of photographing children was raised. Please see an excerpt of the article below:
“Another important issue raised during the discussion was photographing children in public. Some photographers have a personal policy not to take photographs of minors because ‘it is more trouble than it’s worth! ‘
It was a subject that was also raised at The Northern Eye Festival at Oriel Colwyn in October when McCoy Wynne, working commercial landscape photographers from Liverpool, showed their work. In the Q&A Bridget Coaker, The Guardian Picture editor, asked if they had asked permission from parents to use the urban landscape picture that included children. They said no as it was taken in a public area so, rightly, no permission was required. Bridget’s response not only amazed but also worried me as she said the Guardian would not use a picture like this with children in it without consent.
At the end of the festival there was a general Q&A and I brought the subject up again. I asked Bridget if, as a ‘FREE PRESS ‘, are we not losing that title because the press themselves are afraid to use a picture simply because there are children in the frame. Her answer was a simple ‘yes ‘. How scary is that!!!
Thinking of this during the talk and remembering Bridget’s remarks I flippantly asked ‘if the press continue with their self censorship in this fashion, in 100 years time the question will be asked ‘Where are all the children ‘?
We are recorders of history, and that includes every member of society rich, poor, old and young and we can’t allow political correctness to stop that, whether it’s conceptual or traditional. Though different, they are the same and as important in telling the truth of our world for future generations.”
I like to get parent or guardians permissions before photographing children, but it’s not always possible. As you may know I take some photographs for the council of school children being taught computer technology in libraries. We always get permissions before photographing them. Most parents welcome the photography, but on rare occasions they decline so I avoid photographing that child.The council use the photos on their twitter and websites. I haven’t published any, but am using one for the portrait competition. I had permission from the parent and the council say it’s OK but wanted to know where it would be used.
The article says the Guardian’s editor won’t use a photograph of a minor taken in a public place with consent of the parent. Glen Edwards argues that we need to record these events for historic reasons so future generations can see how we lived.
I know we have to be respectful and sensible about it, but has political correctness gone to far? What do you think?
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