05 May PODCAST: Savannah Dodd – Photographer and founder of the Photography Ethics Centre
Through Documentary Storytellers I want to help promote a more considered form of documentary storytelling, enhance the positive impact our work has on the issues we document, and to help in some way with decolonising photography and filmmaking, and visual communication in general.
Because of the pervasive influence and insidious nature of forces such as patriarchal and colonial mindsets, which, all too often, go unnoticed or unacknowledged, someone from the Global North, for example, going to the Global South with good intentions to explore an issue is not sufficient to ensure the positive impact they wish to have is actually realised. We need to become conscious of our own role as photographers and filmmakers in maintaining certain power dynamics and prevailing narratives through the way we work and represent the people and communities we document, and impact this has.
As documentary storytellers are one of the groups at the frontline of shaping culture, we can either contribute to maintaining the status quo, or we can challenge it and contribute to its disruption and the creation of a more just, egalitarian, and compassionate world. The only way we are going to help change our cultures for the better, is if we become mindful of our own role within them – to become aware of the biases and prejudices we hold, and work on addressing or managing them – to ensure that when documenting communities of which we are not a part, we act in a way that maximises the potential for our work to have the positive outcome we intended, and not inadvertently contribute to maintaining a narrative that lies at the root of the issue we are documenting.
So, to start this process, in this episode I speak to Savannah Dodd – a photographer and anthropologist originally from the USA, but now living in Northern Ireland – just down the road from my family as it happens. In 2017, Savannah founded the Photography Ethics Centre an organisation dedicated to promoting ethical literacy across the photography industry through workshops, events, online courses, and free multimedia content.