In the age of the Internet, images can be copied and distributed regardless of whether their publication is intended or sanctioned. As a result, depicting injustice without exposing victims to further stigma has become increasingly difficult.
For two decades, Donna DeCesare has photographed children affected by war and gang violence. Seven years ago—in collaboration with UNICEF and on self-assigned projects—DeCesare began focusing on children living in the USA, Central America, and Colombia whose exposure to violence or HIV/AIDS carries the risk of social stigma. Recognizing that she has little control over the distribution of her images, DeCesare collaborated with UNICEF to establish a collaborative imagemaking process that protects the identities of children at risk and empowers them to tell their stories, while remaining visually powerful. This has evolved into a photography policy that UNICEF now promotes globally.
"Documenting Injustice, Protecting Identities" is part of OSI's ongoing Photography as Advocacy Forum Series, which explores how photography can be used to shape public policy and perception, and to advocate for socialchange.
Fred Ritchin, Associate Professor, New York University, moderated a discussion with:
- Donna DeCesare, Photographer, and Professor, University of Texas
- Ellen Tolmie, Senior Photography Editor, UNICEF
Amy Yenkin, Director of the Documentary Photography Project, introduced the event.
DeCesare's photographs, "Sharing Secrets: Children's Portraits Exposing Stigma," are on view through May 11, 2007, at the Open Society Institute–New York as part of the MovingWalls 12 group exhibition.