17 Apr Candid Travel Photography: Hanoi, Vietnam
One of my favorite things to do when we travel is to take photos of people. I am a people-watcher in general but I also love capturing images that I hope reflect the culture and an authentic sense of place. But there are some ethical issues when taking pictures of people and an important cultural sensitivity that must be respected.
Imagine someone pointing a camera at you right now
I wonder if what I am doing is right or wrong. I’m not exactly sure. On one hand, I want to capture these moments to preserve the experience. On the other hand, would I be comfortable with someone capturing an image of me? I think about this whenever I pull out my camera to take a picture. Ultimately, I think of it in two specific ways:
1. What am I using the image for? Should I ask for permission?
2. If I stop to ask for permission, will the moment pass or the photo no longer be genuine?
I remember speaking to some good friends who are professional photographers, and they speak of the need to get people’s permission as much as possible whenever taking photos. Yes, it may be uncomfortable to ask someone, but it’s important for all of us to respect others. Otherwise, we view people as property – or worse, we disregard a person’s right of choice. This is something we should always be conscious of. Are we respecting others when we travel? Are we respecting people’s right to choose?
I know I would want someone to ask me for my permission as much as possible, but I also understand sometimes this is not possible. I don’t think there is a black and white answer. However, I believe that informed decisions, made intentionally and out of respect for others, might be the best possible way. This goes not just for taking pictures, but for anything we do related to travel.
Children on an excursion leave a temple.
A street vendor in Mai Châu makes her daily grilled pork.
MCC has freshly made, daily staff meals.
This Cafe had it going on.
One of Hanoi’s many neat cafes.
We were amazed by the resourcefulness and creativity of vendors.
A couple does an engagement shoot at one of the many lakes.
A common scene to see food vendors displaying their goods in glass exhibits on the street.
I loved the traditional hats with these young hip guys.
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