Tourism

Is Taking Pictures of Others Compatible with Responsible Tourism?

taking images of other people belongings

If you are still unsure whether filming and taking pictures of others on a trip is a good idea, put yourself in the shoes of a local person in a travel destination. Imagine you want to leave your home to shop in a grocery store nearby, and get back home quickly. Suddenly you meet some lively and happy young people who want to photograph you without permission. As soon as you realize and try to prevent them, you will find out they have taken a picture of you and walked away happily.

Also, keep in mind that this is your neighborhood, a place where you live and walk around every day. What do you think about these travelers who appear in your neighborhood regularly and do not care about your wishes and concerns?

Taking Pictures of Others from a Moral Viewpoint

taking pictures of others
taking pictures of others selling watermelon by the roadside in Hamedan Province

Do you think it is morally right to take a photo of whoever you want? Is it right to photograph people’s homes and belongings? Even if you are not on a journey, isn’t it better to think about the moral aspects of it first? It will not create good feelings in you if a stranger takes a picture of you. If you do not like this for yourself, do not like it for others.

Morally, it is your privacy that is invaded by others. They disturb your privacy and peace. They make your home, life, and belongings the subject of their photography or filming, without explaining why. These actions have no conformity with anyone’s moral principles.

Take Photos of Others from a Responsible Tourism Perspective

A responsible traveler, in addition to ethical principles, also considers the various aspects of responsible travel for the realization of sustainable tourism. If your goal is to maintain tourism in a destination and let local communities benefit, we must properly manage our human relationships with others.

The host community in a given tourism destination should be happy and satisfied with the existence of this industry in their place of residence. We must respect them, pay attention to their wishes and establish friendly relationships with them.

We should not look down on the local people as responsible travelers visiting the places we travel to. It should not be in our minds that we are allowed to behave there as we wish and to consider only our own happiness. It is true that after a short time we will return to our home and life and we will probably bring good memories with us. However, we should remember that we must have created a similar feeling in the tourist destinations we had been to.

What Do We Photograph on a Trip?

taking photo of ceremonies
Taking pictures of others in a wedding ceremony in Western Iran

It happens quite often that we, subconsciously, during the trip, like to record our memories. We usually do this with photography although this is not the only or best way to capture memories. Our topics of photography are objects and people that are new to us.

If we have lived most of our lives in a big city, it is especially interesting to see mud-made houses, packed cattle, elderly people on donkey back, etc. At that moment, the point is we must see ourselves in the place of those people or the owners of those things.

The solution is that our first action shouldn’t be photography. Sometimes a smile or a phrase like “Hi, how are you?” can open the door to connecting with people. Remember that sometimes they also have curiosities about you. Let the conversation start.

After that, the feeling you get from your audience will tell you whether this conversation can be continued or not. If it continues and your impression is that you can spend time with those people, it will be a good sign. Maybe you can have tea with each other. Allocate some time for such relationships. This is a positive feature of a slow travel style that can help you learn more about people.

If everything went smoothly and well and a real human relationship was formed, then maybe you can ask them for permission to film or take photos. They, too, are usually more interested in photographing each other than being photographed only.

If you want to photograph their house and belongings, be sure to talk to them about such a thing first. If you have seen similar items elsewhere or have them yourself, talk about it. Remind them of the value and beauty of what they have so they know you value them and their lifestyle.

The request for photography should be made after all this and maybe more. Of course, that should not be the last thing you do and leaving there immediately. Remember that the best way is to have a genuine relationship and conversation. It is possible that friendships formed in this way continue.

What Does Iranian Law Say about Taking Pictures of Others?

In answer to this question, it must be said that the legislature has criminalized certain filming and photography. First of all, according to the law, you have to get people’s permission before photographing or filming them. Whether publicly or covertly photographing people is a crime or not, and how you will use those photos and videos is one thing, and what the judge will rule is another.

It is up to the judge to determine this crime and how to deal with it in court. In case of breaking the law, the offender will be dealt with according to his ruling. Naturally, no traveler wants to end up there.

On the other hand, a responsible traveler knows that creating such a bitter feeling in the host community can have dire consequences for tourism in that area too. For example, they may block the way for subsequent travelers and prevent anyone from entering their place, village, or even area.

In other words, they would believe it is not worth letting strangers get into their territories. Consequently, they lose their desire to earn money in this way as well. Let’s not forget that tourism isn’t the only way they can make a living. On the contrary, that geographic spot is vital for you to visit and experience.

This is catastrophic and no one wants to bring about such a fate for a tourist destination by taking pictures of others. Respectful and responsible behavior is one of the basic principles in the Charter of Responsible Tourism to which we must all be committed.

Amazing Subjects of Photography in Tourism Destinations

Once conscious tourism is a principle for you, it will not happen to you to yield to a tempting photography opportunity just because it will turn out great! You stop and ponder. You have certain considerations. You know you have to have local people’s feelings and impressions in mind. So, you will be taking pictures of others in the right way.

If you have any experience in this area or you have treated such opportunities in a certain way, please share them with others so that we can all learn and use them as well.

Rahman Mehraby

Rahman Mehraby is the founder and owner of Destination Iran. He plans and customizes quality Iran tours. Also, he provides tourism marketing consultation and services for tourism businesses.

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