Every now and then when you are out in the field taking photographs you are faced with an ethical decision. How you react to these situations can also affect how you photograph your subjects. There are a few unwritten rules within the photography community that one should try and adhere to whilst out an about.
- One of the most common scenarios we as photographers are faced with in the field is when you want to capture an amazing scene but there is just something not right about your scene. For example, a common one I see in the field is damaged foliage and plant life around popular waterfalls or grand views. If you are faced with a really nice view or location that is obstructed by plants or other natural objects it is best to just move on to a different location or viewpoint, instead of damaging the view for others. A good photographer will always find a way to get the right composition.
- Another pet hate of photographers is when you are shooting a scene and you are encroached upon by another photographer. A classic example I had was once at Yosemite National Park in the USA when I was shooting the famous “Tunnel View” scene, made famous by Ansel Adams. I was set up with tripod and ready to shoot at sunset when another photographer came along, set up his tripod and view partly in front of my view. Be aware of others around you and don’t encroach. Make your shot your own, be unique and find a viewpoint that differs from others.
- If you are ever out in the field capturing the beauty of this world, one rule overrides all others. This is when you encounter a serious scenario where someone or something is injured or likely to be injured. Keeping in mind your own personal safety, if you see a person in destress your first duty should not be picking up your camera. Stop and check in if this person is ok. If its an emergency, contact the emergency services and get help. No photo is worth the loss of someone’s life or being severely injured.
- If the injured is an animal, take the time to think about what the best approach to this situation is. If possible, notify the appropriate services of the injured animal. A great example of this when the Black Saturday bushfires tore apart parts of Victoria, there was that classic image of the Koala receiving help from the firefighter, supplying the animal a cold drink of water. By helping this animal, not only did this firefighter show a caring attitude to the animal, but also provided one of the shots of the decade for the lucky photographer.