Magnum Foundation

Magnum Foundation

Call for Participants: #PhotoEx Responsible Data Lab

Photography, Expanded Responsible Data Lab for Documentary Photographers and Photojournalists

Organized in collaboration with the engine room and Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project’s exhibition, “Watching You, Watching Me," this one-day hands-on lab is designed for documentary photographers and photojournalists working on projects that address critical social issues. Through interactive exercises, attendees will learn approaches for navigating the ethical, privacy and security challenges they face in their work in today’s rapidly shifting digital landscape.

Applications are due on February 17. 25-35 participants will be selected and notified on March 2. The lab will take place on March 28, 10am-6pm in New York City. The cost of the lab is free, but participants must cover their travel expenses. APPLY HERE!

Advances in technology and communication have dramatically altered the context in which photographers and photojournalists work. Surveillance; threats of targeted violence; protecting sources and subjects; the potential for images to be repurposed for contrary objectives: these are familiar risks that take drastically different forms in a digital context. Avoiding them often demands highly specialized skills or specific information, which in turn poses a new set of ethical, privacy and security dilemmas for photographers working to protect themselves, their subjects and the people affected by their work.  

How does the digital transmission of information increase the risks of surveillance and targeted violence? Is anonymization possible in the age of YouTube? How can the meta-data generated by digital photography be used to inform military operations, or to document human rights abuses? How does the viral transmission of images impact the way we think about consent?

These are challenging questions for anyone. But they are especially demanding for photographers who, unlike most other media makers, often work independently in the field, without crews or partners and on very modest budgets. Though there may be no clear answers to these questions, providing peers with a structured forum in which to address them can provide concrete strategies for managing risks in the field.

We are convening the Responsible Data Lab to provide photographers and photojournalists with a space in which to do precisely this.

The Engine Room’s Responsible Data Forums are highly interactive and collaborative events, designed to help participants identify the most pressing ethics, privacy and security challenges they face, and begin working together towards solutions to those challenges.

The lab’s content and agenda will be designed in real time on the basis of participants’ needs and specific project objectives. Participants will collaborate through group work and peer learning, sharing experiences and expertise throughout the workshop. This approach helps the event to directly address the issues and challenges that are most important to participants. Participants should be prepared to share, learn, and build long-lasting relationships with colleagues and peers in organizations that share a mission with you.

Outcomes of the lab will depend entirely upon the individual needs and priorities of participants, but generally, participants can expect to leave the conference with:

  • Greater confidence in identifying and responding to the ethical, privacy and security challenges that digital media implies for photography and photojournalism

  • Stronger understanding of where to go for tools, strategies and other resources to respond to diverse challenges

  • Contact with a broader network of peers and organizations actively considering these issues

The event will also be structured to produce specific practical outcomes that will support participants in their work. Examples of these types of outcomes might include:

  • Overview of instruments and general strategies for securing or managing consent of subjects

  • Checklists for identifying and managing metadata in photographs, which might be accessed and used by third parties for positive or negative objectives

  • Action plans for managing physical or digital security threats during assignments

  • Frameworks for anticipating the potential re-use of images and related data

This lab is part of our Photography, Expanded program, designed to inspire documentary photographers to expand their storytelling beyond the still image. Through intensive labs and panel discussions, photographers learn about emerging digital tools and methods to engage audiences across platforms and mobilize communities around social justice issues. 

Photography, Expanded is made possible with generous support from Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project and the Compton Foundation.

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