A photographer’s dilemma

It’s always a hard question when travelling.  When to pull out the camera?

When is it too much to photograph somebody’s life?

To walk into a bustling market place in one of the world’s poorest countries, with only the tiniest of Creole on my second day in Haiti…

When does it become offensive to take a photo?  To even be there?

I have learnt to go in slowly, with smiles and as much local language as I can.  Not pull the camera out until I know it won’t offend.  How quickly can I get a complete stranger of completely different culture to trust me enough to let me take their photograph?  Then when and if that trust comes, the shot must come fast, no messing with angles and lighting – the moment to be captured as it is.

How much do I push, because it’ll be a great shot? Because my job here is to document?

I sometimes misjudge.  This morning I left Ellie on the edge of the market buying oranges and I wandered right in.

I am sometimes met with hostility, I am sometimes met with bursting giggles of delight…

Still, it’s always worth testing the water.

I have passed on many amazing shots, because I do still believe that respect for others comes before the shot. And it makes the shot you do get all the more special.

I am always learning.  About photography, and about people.



For the previous Haitian post click here

For the full blog click here, or to go to my webiste, click here.


  1. Kassia says:

    beautiful words, beautiful photos x

  2. Lizzy Sawdon says:

    Beautifully written and photographed. You are a very special woman Ali. I learn a lot from you and your images.

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