Ethical Code for Visual Communicators

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“It is a sacred trust to represent someone.”  Ingrid DeSanctis, theater artist

Actions

The way in which visual content is created directly impacts both our subjects and the outcome of the work itself. Visual peacemakers must be mindful of the person and the picture. The following actions and behaviors are essential to the visual peacemaking process—before, during, and after.

1. We research and respect the culture we are documenting.

2. We value our subjects by taking measures to interact with or involve them, and by treating storytelling and image-making as a collaboration.

3. We use discernment in candid photography and videography, and all published material, because another’s dignity and honor matters to us.

4. We inquire about how others are impacted by our images, examining the actual results of our best intentions.

5. We are intentional about highlighting common humanity through images and storytelling.

6. We explore both macro and micro factors that affect a place or people in an effort for multidimensional coverage.

7. We refrain from making an image if asked not to.

8. We foster the courage to delete some images that may reinforce destructive stereotypes, or publish them only along with other images that tell a more complete story.

9. We refine and upgrade our own vision, because well-crafted images have greater potential for effective visual peacemaking.

10. We live generously by helping others around us, wherever we are, and by volunteering to support the visual peacemaking movement with our talents and resources.

Attitudes

Our attitudes also impact both our subjects and the outcome of the work. Attitudes govern actions. Attitudes shape the “what” and “how” we create, even the “why.”

1. We remain mindful of the impact and consequences our images may have.

2. We regard others as innately valuable and equipped with meaningful capacity.

3. We acknowledge the subjectivity of our own vision and choices of what to include or not include in the frame.

4. We cultivate the conviction to go to places where there is great need for visual peacemaking.

5. We stay humble, learning and receiving from our subjects and other visual peacemakers.

6. We receive photographs instead of take them.

7. We ground ourselves in the humanity we all share when faced with differences, “otherness,” or bewilderment.

The IGVP Ethical Code is created and endorsed by IGVP Founders, Guild members, & Dr. Howard Zehr, professor of restorative justice, Center for Justice & Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University. It is voluntarily supported by all visual peacemakers.