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Author Topic: Street Photography Codes  (Read 5180 times)
perk
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« on: November 24, 2005, 08:30:15 AM »
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In the article about street photografy in China on this site it is mentioned that it is OK to give children money if they ask for it, "just make sure to take photos first".
This is a Noth American attitude that is not popular with the childrens parents at all!
Coming from Europe, having discussed this with parents in Nepal, India, Malaysia, China and Vietnam, the answer is always the same: We want our children to go to school, not to stay out in the streets to get money from tourists!
A dollar or two may be almost nothing in the western world but in many Asian countries it is quite a lot. In Nepal I was told that children could earn more from asking western tourists for money than their parents could earn by honest work. Last year I visited Beijing and was told by a restaurant owning family how humiliating it was for them when US tourists drowns children i dollars.
Do never teach children to be beggars!
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2005, 12:13:53 PM »
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During my last trip to Nepal I saw signs that requested that tourists did not give money.  A request to not turn their children into beggars.

Some of the more heavily traveled parts of the less developed world the practice of giving to children has ruined any opportunity of having a meaningful interactions.  There's nothing pleasant about being pursued by a pack of school age children begging for "one rupee", "bomb bomb", "one school pen",....

Give a smile and a bit of your time.
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Stef_T
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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2005, 02:58:29 PM »
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I realize the problem of giving children in such situations money, but what should one do then? Personally I wouldn't feel turning down a child when I am carrying some ten thousand dollars worth of equipment in my hand. Is there something that one can do to help them? Obviously there are charities, but I mean on the spot while one is in a rush. Or is this simply a lose-lose situation?

Stefan
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jani
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« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2005, 03:54:55 PM »
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I realize the problem of giving children in such situations money, but what should one do then? Personally I wouldn't feel turning down a child when I am carrying some ten thousand dollars worth of equipment in my hand. Is there something that one can do to help them? Obviously there are charities, but I mean on the spot while one is in a rush. Or is this simply a lose-lose situation?
Premise: we're in a country at Nepal's financial level.

It's a lose-lose situation, at least if you think your alternatives are "dollars or nothing".

Here's the approach I used, much to my inner turmoil (because I'd give a lot of dollars if I though that would really help*):

1) Reject them, don't give money. "Sorry, no money", or just "no money", shake your head, walk away.
2) If they're persistent, persist.
3) If they're a pest that won't go away, try giving them one rupee each. No more. Really.

Usually, you'll never get to 3), because they'll find easier pickings. Unfortunately.

It really, really hurts to see this kind of poverty.

Now what can we do that's a positive contribution?

Well, we can pay for taking photographs. But keep the amount of money low, and don't teach people where you keep the big money (which I assume is in a money belt under your shirt). Remember that big is smaller than you think, 1 USD is nearly 70 rupees. In Pokhara, 3 rupees will get you a small chilled bottle of real 7-Up, Coca-Cola, etc., 2 is enough if you return the bottle.

Be creative, maybe you can give hungry kids a snack or a shared meal (don't overdo it, because eating too much is bad).

Another reason not to pay/give a lot of money, is that you'll be contributing to inflation in the tourist areas, which means that prices will rise for the locals to. People from the countryside have to go to the same places occasionally, and if the prices get too high, they're worse off.

What's still pretty nice about Nepal, is that the risk of pickpockets etc. is low compared to what we westerners are used to. People will still rather try to sell you over-priced trinkets or beg, and they'll make good money of it, too (to say that they'll try to charge ten or twenty times the reasonable price is not an exaggeration).

In any case, check your Lonely Planet of Footprint Guide book; they're usually pretty good at explaining the situation in the country you're about to visit.


* That being said, we did give a lot of money, but rather indirectly, by staying at hotels, paying for a guide and driver, eating at restaurants, going on a microplane flight, buying stuff at inflated rather than ten-fold inflated prices, etc.
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Jan
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2005, 10:35:53 PM »
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When in Malaysia I gave the children pencils... encouraged them to stay in school.

 

Kelly
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erusan
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2005, 01:48:50 AM »
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I have to say it was precisely that remark, about it being OK to give a dollar to a kid in order to get your photograph, that caught my attention as well.

My first thought was: "If you hadn't given the money, they wouldn't have let you take the shot"? I remembered a lesson from journalist school that it is unethical to pay for your information. But in this case, is it really an ethical issue, and if so, what is the main point ? I believe that reducing the incentive for kids to be on the streets begging may be a correct way to handle the situation. Not that your not giving will change the world, but nevertheless.
On the other hand, how does the money given to the kids in the street compare, for instance, to the "bought" performance of the fishermen? Does either of these images / photo opportunities have an edge over the other in terms of "honesty"? The difference between these situations for as far as my brains will go, is that the fishermen were hired to make an impossible shot possible. The kids could be photographed perfectly without paying, but this would leave the photographer with a guilty conscience?
Probably there is a clue here in that the purpose of these photos, while "documentary", does not lie so much in showing an objective image as it does in presenting a pleasant image, i.e. artistic impression of the scene. Too much ethical thinking makes the concept of a $1,000s of dollars trip to see poor people a hot issue in itself... and that would link too much to the unfair divide between "our" luxurious lifestyle and "their" poverty.


As I am new at posting here I do not intend to question anyone's integrity. Perhaps it would be interesting to hear more from Michael Reichmann about his stance on this issue, or the way they handled these situations. That may clear up the background of the text concerned, and I find it is certainly worth some thought. Although I get the feeling experienced phtographers may have regurgitated this issue for countless times already...  

I liked the article a lot, it made me think over a couple of important issues before stepping out the front door again. I live in Japan so the issue of "standing out" from the crowd sounded familiar  
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erusan
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perk
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« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2005, 06:11:30 AM »
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So, what can we do for people that we meet travelling from a weathy west to coutries which are less fortunate?
I believe that communicating is good. If you show genuine friedly interest,  and exchange views. If you take pictures of children, why not contact their parents?
When i was trekking in Nepal, India an Malaysia, Ibrought a big bag with second hand children clothes. After having a good contact and upon LEAVING, we handed over clothes - this was very welcome and popular. In Vietnam, i could talk to parents, explaining to them I wanted to do something for their children as a thank for their friendly reception of me as a tourist. This resulted in hand-over of material needed i school work as pencils, paper.

One final thoght: If we pay children for potogrphing them, why not pay adults for the same..........?
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Paulo Bizarro
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2005, 12:15:07 AM »
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Very interesting set of “guidelines”. They are no more than that, guidelines from someone who has a lot of experience in these situations. And that is the way I interpret them. For the last 3 years I have been working and living in Oman, a Gulf country. People are very friendly, honest, with a culture that goes back many thousands of years.

The country has been opening to tourism recently, and slowly. Culture, tradition, and modernity are present everywhere, making it a very interesting spot for travel or street photography. I also think that a smile goes a long way, as well as respecting other’s culture, tradition, and ways of life.

In only 3 years, however, children have become accustomed to ask for: money, sweets, gifts, even if you are not carrying a camera. This is due to the fact that many places are now visited by organized tours, and most tourists lack the aforementioned respect for culture and tradition. Unfortunately, North Americans I have met are in that group. I have seen men in shorts only in public places, and women in minimal clothing in souks and markets. This could lead to problems, of course, since Oman is a Muslim country.

On the other hand, I have been fortunate enough to visit remote mountain villages, where poor people are keen to share coffee, dates, and friendship. An excellent opportunity for good and genuine photographs. However, I would add one recommendation to the list:

You don’t need to take a photograph, or carry a camera, to enjoy different cultures, different places. Relax, and just enjoy being there.
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Julian Love
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« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2005, 04:08:09 PM »
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It is a difficult problem and one that I often face on my travels. Basically I very rarely pay for someone's photograph, and never children - only adults.

As for whether this changes people's behaviour, such as the Yangshao fishermen, then perhaps it does. But as a consequence it may help preserve the way of life. We are happy to visit game parks in africa that are only supported by the money from Western tourists coming to see and photograph the animals. If they hadn't become important tourist attractions the wildlife of the world would be in an even worse state, I think. Is this something similar?

Julian
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gr82bart
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2005, 01:00:47 PM »
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In the article about street photografy in China on this site it is mentioned that it is OK to give children money if they ask for it, "just make sure to take photos first".
Who the heck said that? It is not OK to give money to children when they ask for it. It's too much that we are already dumbing our kids in North America with the notion that celebrity and fame will get you more in life than hard work and brains, but let's not subject these kids too.

Regards, Art.
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KatieB
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« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2006, 06:53:54 PM »
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While traveling in West Africa, a couple I met had a very creative way of dealing with the children. They had a Poloroid camera with them -  just the cheap, little one - and would first take a picture of the child (or children) with the Poloroid, then give the picture to either the kids or a parent once it developed. It was a huge hit and allowed them lots of great access to people for taking pictures with their digital. If you have the luggage space for the film, it's a nice thing to do for the people, and a really nice way to earn goodwill as well as photographic access.
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