8/100

Even though I enjoy the challenge of the 100 Strangers Project, I’ve wrestled with the ethical considerations.

I act with integrity. I approach each person with a sincere smile. I ask permission to take the portraits for this project and I feel comfortable requesting small favors such as “how about you stand along this wall in the shade?”

I respect the rights of each person to decline to be photographed.

Kylie_StrawberryStreet_0001.jpg

There is certainly an argument to be made that it would be wise to keep each person’s identity totally anonymous. And yet there is a component to this project that extends beyond the act of taking a picture. I introduce myself and extend my hand . . . and this small act of courtesy is amazingly intimate. For just a second, our hands touch.  I make eye contact. We share a smile, a laugh, or perhaps an awkward glance.  Without exception, at least so far, when I say, “Hi, I’m Donna. It’s nice to meet you,” the subject has responded in kind, sharing their first name.

I can’t begin to explain how honored I feel for these interactions. That someone would place such trust in me makes me want to be my best self. I care for these portraits with the utmost respect and reverence. They are a gift. I know this.

 Kylie | Strawberry Street | Richmond, Virginia | March 2018

Kylie | Strawberry Street | Richmond, Virginia | March 2018

To leave out the names might be safer, but it would certainly change the project. Making portraits, even of strangers, is an intimate act . . . and when anchored by genuine love, it’s incredibly affirming for both parties.

I feel a little more alive with each stranger I photograph.

I’ve done my best to educate myself by reading articles –

. . . on the ethical considerations of street photography.

The Street Photography Code of Ethics by Eric Kim.

. . . on commercial versus editorial photography.

Understanding the Differences Between Commercial & Editorial Photography from 500px blog.

Ultimately your life experiences are unique. Follow your own heart. Don’t compromise your ideals. Stay true to who you are.

Photograph in a way that feels ethical, respectful, and honest to you. Listen to your own conscience; do what feels right.
— Eric Kim