At this week’s Tuesday@2, Nonprofit Management student and photographer Chelsea Dee discussed the ethics of storytelling and image usage. Chelsea, who has worked as a humanitarian photographer since 2009, explained the importance of conveying the stories of the people she meets and photographs along the way, as well as her responsibility to ensure that those images are used ethically by contracting organizations.
“Once I take a photograph, it’s my responsibility to make sure the organization using it doesn’t use it in the wrong way,” said Chelsea. Images are easily used to evoke an emotional response, and organizations often do this to encourage donations or incite action.
Chelsea also emphasized the importance of getting the communities she photographs involved in her work. “If I am going to walk into a community to take photos, communities have the right to learn how to take photographs as well,” she explained. She had the chance to do just this on her recent summer IFP trip to Brazil, where Milano students taught children in a favela outside of Rio how to use camera equipment.
From Brazil, Chelsea headed over to Kenya, where she participated in a similar project through a nonprofit organization called Comfort the Children. In both cases, the results were brilliant. While Chelsea taught the teens how to take photographs, the teens provided her with their own points-of-view on the communities she was documenting.
On the right is a photo of youth dancing in Maai Mahiu, the Kenyan community where Chelsea worked this summer. The photo was taken by Owen and Moses, two of her students. More of Chelsea’s work can be seen here on her personal website.