Exercise · The Ethics of Aesthetics

Continuing on with the above theme, I see that there are various ways of observing the work portrayed by the said photographers. Firstly the images are subject specific i.e not all situations here are trying to depict or save people from famine (so its seems to me) as we see clearly that people in the images are not always subject to that kind of abject poverty or social demise. Therefore, it appears to me that there are different intentions within the remit of the photographers’ work: raising awareness, encouraging support, and perhaps voluntary participation.

The next thing that occurs to me is that we live in a time when social and political views have changed considerably thus peoples’ sensibilities are at times trained towards the sentimental end of the scale. What I mean by this is that we do not like to see suffering as it is, it now puts us of (so called compassion fatigue and it grates perhaps with contemporary ves that we should all have what we need and be materially satisfied).

But the reality, wether photographed or not, still exists for the people experiencing it. So do we then present a photo of people that are reasonably content and with their basic needs met to talk about and discuss extreme poverty (not illustrated in the photos) but insinuated or do we simply make images like carter of the ‘bang bang club’ and later have people ridicule and criticise us for not helping the subjects that were so obviously in need in that moment of something to alleviate their pain? I find this a dilemma that has no easy answer, as a photographer. I do not believe that there is a breaching of morality to depict overt suffering if the photographer’s intention is to move people to help. And I also think that some skilful aesthetic photography again if used to the above end, is not necessarily immoral if the intention is to…move people to help.

As a final comment, it would also seem useful for the subjects to see themselves photographed at least sometimes, from a more empowered position, and not just the visual specimens of our Western gaze.

Published by Truevisionphotography

I'm a student photographer studying through the OCA a UK based arts university. I'm in the foundation year of my studies and enjoying it immensely. I'm also a yoga teacher and co-founder of Bodhiyoga a buddhism based yoga teacher training program that runs in the UK and Spain each year. As a photographer I'm interested in all forms of fine art. I find the arts really important in my life. I love nature and aim to be in the outdoors as much as I can. Generally I think that all the different strands of my life are flowing to towards self development in the greatest sense of the term. The arts, buddhist practice yoga and meditation are all tools to that end. I feel committed to communication the these values in the world both through the visual arts as well as teaching.

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