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Project information

Is That Image Ethical? (Yr 2)

The use of imagery within the UK charity sector (especially fundraising departments) and by overseas NGOs is often controversial. PhotoVoice's ethical approach is largely unique in the sector. We think it important that disadvantaged and under-represented groups have a say in how they're portrayed


Charity information: PhotoVoice

PhotoVoice logo
  • Need


    Photography remains vital to communication by charities worldwide; yet it has the power to misrepresent, disempower, or exploit.

    PhotoVoice seeks to challenge photography which diminishes or undermines the communities being portrayed – using the demonstrable power and benefit of participatory practices. Key to this is targeted engagement with our peers across the sector, specifically addressing ways in which photography is used to communicate and countering its use in perpetuating stereotypes


    We will continue to promote the ethical use of participatory photography across the NGO sector and challenge examples of photography being used for more exploitative or negative fundraising activities.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Promotion of the ethical use of participatory photography within the charitable sector


    » Monthly newsletter to our membership and supporter base highlighting best practice in our own and other participatory projects
    » Active engagement within the UK charity sector and with international NGOs to promote ethical practice; eg: through talks, briefings and social media
    » Promotion of good practice within the sector as well as highlighting bad examples through our website, trainings and communications materials.

    What success will look like

    Celebrating through our website and newsletter good examples of positive imagery and highlight poor examples

  • Impact


    A gradual change in the way charities, international development organisations and the wider press use imagery of disadvantaged and under-represented groups.

    We'll demonstrate this by:
    collecting examples of acceptable/positive image use contrasting this with how imagery was used in the past

    becoming increasingly synonymous with ethical image use as a key contributor and driver of change

    Other indicators include number of organisations:
    using participant-led images


    This is a long campaign of change.

    The sector is slow to change its practices - especially fund-raising departments that rely on stereo-typical 'flies-in-their eyes' imagery.

    Our mission is to promote the ethical use of photography for positive social change.

    We have begun to address the issue through a written and publicly-available statement of ethical practice. We also incorporate this good practice in all our trainings for practitioners and organisations.


    Updates on this strand of our work in our monthly e-newsletter
    Blogs and articles on the issue on our website
    Highlighting instances of good practice
    An end-of year report on progress

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £4,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,000 Core work Activities dedicated to countering exploitative imagery
  • Background


    PhotoVoice is UK-based, working out of offices in Brixton, London. However, it is not a single-issue charity and its participatory photography projects are usually held in locations other than the office.

    The activities associated with this area of our work will be a mixture of office-based, online and at venues around the UK.


    Under-represented communities (and the organisations that serve them). This activity will provide them with what is currently a rare opportunity for the ‘end-user’ to represent themselves, and seek social change. Their images, and the resources that are developed from them, will be used subsequently for advocacy and communications, influencing programmes, policies and projects.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    PhotoVoice has pioneered many award winning, digital media projects with young people, working with partners including Barnardos, NSPCC, Kidz, Chapter 1 and Coram. Working with young refugees, young people affected by social isolation, teen parents and the disabled, we have trained and supported participants to create striking visual imagery that speaks out to relevant audiences on the issues that are important to them.

    We are the only UK organisation dedicated to participatory photography.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Tom Elkins

    Tom will lead on efforts to engage and advocate with charities and NGOs, setting the strategy for how best to achieve the project's aim

    Zoe Wright

    Zoe is responsible for our comms output and will highlight project progress and successes through our website and our various social media channels