Yesterday three staff members and myself partook in a photography workshop, so we could learn the basic rules of photography and know how to make basic flyers when the guys want a new project/funding.
After heading to the village to take photos (I told the guys NO photos of children, as we do not have their parents permission), we headed back to the school to take photos of English class. All our students have permission forms signed by their parents allowing us to take their photos for marketing purposes, on the promise the photos will be taken in accordance with our child protection policy. It is always just myself, a couple of times a week, snapping photos to schedule some social media update and create a portfolio for us to use. The students are used to me taking photos, and it works well.
However, yesterday there were five of us snapping photos at our English class. The students were disrupted, and I felt extremely uncomfortable about what was happening. We are the people they are surrounded with every day, taking photos, and I felt uncomfortable. What about orphanages and NGO’s which allow tourists who the children do not know to come in and snap photos of? I explained to the staff that this is the reason we do not allow our visitors (we rarely have visitors, as we do not promote visitor tours and they must be prearranged), that is disrupts the children, and makes them feel like they are on show. NGO’s and orphanages are not zoos….these children are real human beings, and deserve to be treated with respect.
Another article on children as tourist attractions was published today on Daily Life, and I high recommend reading it. In the past, I have made the mistake of photographing children I do not know in foreign countries, and I have learnt from my mistakes. Children are NOT tourist attractions.