SNAPSHOTS: Is It Ethical?
Since 2007, Malin Fezehai has
photographed her ongoing
series, “Displaced,” a series
about the global refugee and
migration crisis. “I published
my work about African
asylum seekers in Israel with
The New York Times, and today
I am a visual reporter for
that newspaper working on
stories about communities
and subcultures around the
world,” she says.
Fezehai began her career as a photographer and filmmaker in her native
Sweden, and later studied at the International Center of Photography
in New York City. With a client list that also includes The New Yorker and
TIME, Fezehai has garnered accolades including the 2015 World Press
Photo Award, the Wallis Annenberg Prize and PDN’s 30 New and Emerging
Photographers to Watch. Here Fezehai discusses the ethical choices that
arise when photographing sensitive subjects in the field.
PDNedu: Your “Displaced” project focuses on people who have
been forced to leave their homes due to factors including natural
disasters, war, political strife and food or water shortages. What
motivates you to document this subject? What do you hope to
achieve with your work in this area?
MF: I hope to create awareness about migration and its complexities. Today
there are an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world who have
been forced to leave their homes, and I think it’s one of the most pressing
issues of our time. Why people have to flee is currently a very complicated
issue—it’s not as simple as, “people are looking for a better life.” There are
a variety of factors at play, such as food insecurity, wars and water scarcity. I
try to create work that shows those nuances that are often lost in the dialog.
PDNedu: Do you sometimes face moral dilemmas when deciding
whether to photograph people who are suffering?
MF: Yes of course, but in each situation you have to make a personal
judgment call about how to proceed in a way that is sensitive to your
subjects and also doing your job as a photographer. When you are working
with people who have severe trauma, it’s essential that you don’t add to
Is It Ethical? Handle With Care
Photojournalist Malin Fezehai discusses the ethics involved
in photographing sensitive, complex subjects.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MALIN FEZEHAI