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Can travel portrait photography be respectful?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 by Marianne Elliott

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Portrait of girl in Papua New Guinea

Words and images by: Marianne Elliott

Today I was processing some portraits from a trip I made to Papua New Guinea when I was working for Oxfam. They got me thinking about how much I love to photograph people and about what makes a great portrait, but also about the ethics of photographing people who I don’t know and who I may never see again. Can travel portrait photography ever be genuinely respectful?

I don’t have all the answers, not even close. But I have thought quite a lot about the question, and I’ve come up with a few guidelines for myself, which help me take photos in a way that feels respectful. To read my guidelines (and see more beautiful portraits from Papua New Guinea), read my guest post at Gypsy Girls Guide.

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2 Responses to "Can travel portrait photography be respectful?"

  1. Marcela says:

    Very nice post. I share your rules. When I lived in Ivory Coast (2005-2007)I was reluctant at first to take pictures of people and private homes, but, to my surprise, people started asking me to do it, because they wanted to see themselves in the LCD screen of my camera. At the time I didn’t have access to a good photo printer, but I did send them, whenever possible, at least a home printer copy of their portraits.
    I love those portraits and those people and I feel that they connect me more deeply to the country…watching them these days, when Ivory Coast is suffering so much, and I am so far, it frequently means shedding a few tears…
    Have a nice weekend

  2. Alex says:

    Love it!!! You have a great eye for portraits. You can capture soul in the eyes! xo

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