Poverty Pornography

For the London Homelessness Outreach Network, we have had a couple of wonderful graphic designers helping us with pro bono work.  One of the tasks includes developing a flyer that we can hand out to inform people about what we do.  It has been a bit of a struggle in making this flyer in terms of knowing exactly what images to use.  Interestingly, I was talking with a photographer who works with some international development agencies, and he goes through a lot of the same struggles.

The issue is trying to make a human connection to our work, without peddling poverty pornography.  How can you capture an image that encompasses human suffering, without exploiting that suffering human?  You may notice that on this blog I only use images of places that speak of poverty, not of people.  And, in the only video I have made, I only used images where you could not identify the person.  I want to demonstrate respect for those whom I work with, but also allow others a glimpse into their world.

I’m not sure where the balance is, but for now I err on the side of caution.  I have thought about doing a photovoice project in the future with people experiencing homelessness, so I’m sure this issue will come up again.

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