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HONORING MY MOTHER | What’s wrong with this picture

In one photojournalism mini workshop I just happened to attend a long time ago (I’m not a photojournalist, not by a long shot), the words of one speaker still ring true. Back then, she reminded participants that there will always exist a very thin line between what photographers refer to as subjects of ‘human interest’ and those that could dangerously tread into invasion of one’s privacy. That astute reminder hurled at the group, may have happened in the 80s several years before the coming of the internet , but it has never been more relevant than it is today.

Be it in time of wars or peace, the sensitivity, empathy component or whatever we call it, involved in taking a photo has always been an issue that has been often set aside. And it’s true many seasoned practitioners in the world have put lesser premium on how one particular shot may actually impact on the subject; with most opting instead to go for the scoop, the shock value or a possible attempt at coming up with an award-winning entry. But that’s not for us, mere mortals and holders of iPhone or androids who love capturing a moment for our personal enjoyment.

Guess again, to the utmost degree, we bear that same responsibility, whether we like it or not.
The setting is a barrio hut near a forest clearing. “Budots” music is blaring in the background as the video camera pans to reveal couples (farmers or farm-hands I think) slow-dancing and laughing boisterously and they all appear to be in drunken stupor. That’s innocent enough, one might say; the scene can be common anywhere. Nothing’s wrong with people we know at parties having a good time and being documented for posterity. At least, that’s fine until the video gets uploaded on social media. Posterity yes, but if the intent is to poke fun at people in their most candid moments, the thin line is crossed.

Another video shows a three-year old in skimpy period blouse with 30s ribbons on her hair dancing and tumbling to the Christmas song, Santa Baby. Clearly heard in the background are the cheers and laughter of what I assume are friends and relatives. For them, that seconder-Tiktok may have been cute, hilarious and done without malice. A piece of family video the little girl could view and perhaps keep as memento when she is older. However, there could be another and most dreaded possibility. That very same video might also end up in some dark web porn site somewhere, without the family, much less the parents not being aware of it.

It appears that in this age with maybe more than half or a third of the world possessing even the most spartan of cell phones up to those equipped with built-in cameras, funny and cute cut a million ways. That is now compounded with artificial intelligence capabilities in applications that have become readily-available through easy-to-find links. Uncle Ben could not have said it any clearer: with great power comes great responsibilities. One need not be Spiderman to figure that out.


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