Ethics in Photography

Big Thank you to all who already submitted photos for the Study Abroad Photo Contest! We are so impressed! Your photos are absolutely fantastic!

For those of you who are going to study abroad in the future we thought it was important to hear about ethics in photography. In other words, there are certain spoken and unspoken rules that you should be following when you take photos while travelling abroad.

“Andrej Ciesielski illegally climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza, despite local laws that prohibit climbing on ancient structures. ” PhotographyLife. He is not an IWU student 🙂
  • First of all, do your research of a place you are going to visit, its culture and traditions. The more you learn about the country and the people the more comfortable you are going to be once you arrive.
  • Before taking a photo ask yourself: will this photo harm this person or people in it? Would this photo be considerate offensive in my own country?
  • When you take a photo of other people in it – ask them if its okay to take the photo. Some cultures, groups and tribes think it is a bad luck and some – they would be utterly offended if you take their photos. So if you don’t want to be yelled at or worse – loose your camera, it is not going to hurt to ask.
  • More importantly: if a person says NO, this means NO. If you do not receive consent, do not take the photo.
  • Respect privacy, and if you are allowed to share a special moment, a private moment – proceed with utmost care, consideration and compassion. Which brings up another important matter.
  • Do not take advantage of a person’s trust.
  • Taking a controversial photo doesn’t mean you are going to get more attention.
  • “Enjoy the ride” or “Enjoy the scenery”: simply means sometimes its better to put the camera away and simply engage in the moment, and experience life without looking through the viewfinder.

A lot of the times our brain registers everything through Instagram account… Sometimes we look at something very beautiful and the only thing that comes to mind: “Would this be a fun photo to share with the friends? I wonder what would they say?” Or: “Oh bummer, I did not take the photo!!! We need to come back!!!” And you stress and overthink and overwhelming power of anxiety leads to panic.

Our advice is to truly enjoy the place you are visiting, people around you, make the most out of your study abroad experience. And do not stress about taking a perfect photo. Sometimes it fun to go old fashioned way and send postcards to your family and friends; keep a small notebook or a journal and write “snapshots” of the day, highlights of the week in it.

“Enjoy the ride”!


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