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  • Writer's pictureClinton White

What if taking pictures of the cute kids is more about me than them?

Shade for children

Shade for children

Taking Pictures

We’ve all seen those pictures, right? The volunteer surrounded by kids in an orphanage, or the house with a dirt floor in a Roma community, or the little old lady in a hospital bed. You’ve may have been the one taking those pictures. I know I have, and sometimes I regret doing so. Here’s why:

Too often, even when I have good intentions like sharing with my friends or family or those who finance my work, my pictures are more about me than about the subject of my photo. I want people to know that I’m doing good work, that I’m making a difference in the world…that I’m spending their money wisely. None of that is bad but all of that is about making me look good. It’s a fine line. On the one hand I want to “promote” our ministry but on the other hand, sometimes at least, it’s about promoting “me”.

Also, too often, I have taken pictures without permission. What would you do if a stranger took pictures of your child or your home and then shared them on social media for the whole world to see? Using someone’s picture without permission robs them of dignity and privacy and sometimes we use those pictures to generate funding that we don’t share with the subjects of our pictures. That might be exploitation.

Helpful questions to ask yourself before snapping or posting pictures*

1. Why am I posting this? Whose Kingdom am I building?

2. Is this post helpful to others and honorable to God?

3.Does this bring dignity and respect to the people in the photo?

4. Could this hurt me or others?

5. Do I have permission? Am I telling the whole truth?

What should we do?

· Wait. Wait a little while before pulling out your camera. Play. Talk. Watch. Learn. Then snap.

· Be as discreet as possible. I like using a long-lens from a distance or a small camera/phone.

· Avoid random pics, rather, share meaningful pictures. Know the subject. Know the story.

· If possible, ask permission. If you’re telling stories, get the stories right. Not all kids in orphanages are orphans.

· Don’t use photos to generate funding without asking permission and sharing the revenue. Use a Model Release form.

*Questions taken from an online article MISSION TRIPS, SOCIAL MEDIA AND PHOTOGRAPHY, July 19, 2018, Christ for the City International.

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