WaterAid’s approach to ethical image use

At WaterAid, we take seriously our responsibility to uphold the dignity of the people we work with through the respectful use of their imagery. We understand that there are negative implications of unfair representation, and so we endeavor to take a rights-based and progressive approach. Laura Summerton, WaterAid UK’s Senior Photography Officer, looks at the challenges involved, and introduces our updated Ethical Image Policy.

There is a constant debate in and around the charity sector about the appropriate use of imagery in communications. Recently, pupils at a Croydon primary school questioned why charities, including WaterAid, use emotive images of children, and whether this compromises those children’s rights.

How to sensitively and fairly portray the need that we seek to address is one of the key issues facing our Communications team today. Although we know that showing emotive imagery from pre-intervention communities helps to raise funds, the question is whether such portrayals develop an understanding of the full context in the long term. Increasingly we are doing much to give a balanced perspective, in the aim that our imagery connects communities from different parts of the world rather than contributing to stereotypes of entire communities, nations or even continents....

Read more on the global WaterAid blog