Photographing a Tragedy

Hope that you'll never have the occasion to photograph a tragedy or a disaster, but if you do then you must prepare to know what’s most important in such situation.

What Would You Do?

  • Respect is of utmost importance. Your presence there is a privilege and the people around you are suffering.
  • If you are asked any questions be forthright, sincere and open. Be honest about your intentions and show that you are not merely a sightseer.
  • If you are asked not to photograph someone or something, respect that wish. Maybe this isn't in the strictest tradition of journalistic photography, but the last thing a decent human being should do is deepen another’s suffering.
  • If possible, travel with a local. They can provide you with context, a liaison with others and practical advice.
  • If you see a great shot, don’t put off taking it. The rare privilege you have been given may never happen again.
  • If there is still a state of emergency, stay out of the way! Do not put peoples lives or property in danger, and let the authorities do what they need to do without obstruction.
  • Do not put yourself at risk. No matter how good the shot you’re after. If you’re putting yourself in harms way, it’s not worth it. Besides the risk to your life, you could be risking those who might be required to rescue you.
  • Finally, once again because it’s so important, show respect at all times. This includes what you do with your photos. Make your photos available under a creative common license, because it’s important to spread the message of what happened as widely as possible, but that’s your own choice. Also never choose to make money from these photos because that would be unethical, again that’s up to you. But whatever you do, please do it with respect.

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