Should you photograph the homeless?
Photographing the homeless has become one of the most controversial subjects in street photography. It can be hard to get a definitive answer as everyone has their own personal take on the situation.
Personally I made my decision a long time ago and that was not to. I’m not saying you shouldn’t (we all have to make up our own minds) but it makes me feel uncomfortable. Especially when they are already down on their luck.
I will admit to having taken a few but found when I looked at them I didn’t feel at ease so I deleted them.
I do however sometimes believe there can be a justifiable cause. For example, highlighting their plight or situation. If you were commissioned to do a homeless project then that would in my opinion be slightly different as you would no doubt become more integrated into their world. Spend time with them, get to know them, commit time and energy to it and aim to make a difference. It would also be better if there was a reason for the project or an end goal. Perhaps an exhibition or a book to raise awareness or money.
There are those that will argue they are in their home and therefore it’s an invasion of privacy and those that argue they are in a public place and therefore fair game. To me it just seems to lack dignity and respect.
At the end of the day what you shoot is up to you. In my opinion taking a picture of someone lying on a park bench isn’t interesting or telling a great story. It’s just annoying.
I’ve personally seen some photographers act like complete idiots with their cameras around homeless people.
When all’s said and done it’s an ethical question which only you the individual can answer for yourselves.