How to be an Ethically Literate Photographer (BOOKINGS CLOSED)

Critical Academy

2-5pm Sun 14 July
Museum of Contemporary Photography of Ireland
The Printworks, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2

An initiative of Savannah Dodd
Hosted by the Critical Academy


This is a discussion-based workshop on ethical literacy in photography. Photography ethics are complicated, and contingent on many variables. Everyone will answer ethical questions in their own way; based on their own life experience, personal judgments, and the situation at hand. The Photography Ethics Centre's workshops do not focus on ethical checklists or guidelines. Instead, PEC teach photographers how to think critically about ethics in their own work.

It is extremely difficult to make ethical decisions in the moment, and often these decisions have to happen in a split second. PEC present example situations, stimulate discussion, and raise questions to ensure that photographers are better prepared to field ethical issues when they arise. Experience of working through difficult ethical dilemmas gives photographers very tangible tools to be more effective in their work. It helps photographers to build relationships, to communicate effectively, and to gain access to communities in a socially responsible way. It also prevents us from unknowingly breaching national or international laws and ethical norms about privacy and confidentiality, consent, and child protection.

The workshop will begin by exploring what ethics are and how we make ethical decisions in our photographic practice. Then key ethical principles will be discussed, including, but not limited to, empathy, integrity, and responsibility, and example situations will be looked at to understand how we might apply these principles in different situations.

About The Photography Ethics Centre

The Photography Ethics Centre is a social enterprise that aims to raise awareness about ethics across the photography industry and around the world. It was founded in 2017 in response to the pivotal role that photography has played and continues to play in global events like the migration of Syrian refugees across the Mediterranean and the surge of violence against the Rohingya community in Myanmar. Photographs shape how we view the world, and when we take and present photographs we are shaping how others view the world. This is an enormous responsibility. In order to meet this responsibility, photographers who are ethically literate are needed.

The Photography Ethics Centre does not aim to define what is unequivocally right and wrong. Instead, presenting examples, raise questions, and explain different ethical arguments in photography to encourage photographers to develop their own informed ethical stance.

Savannah Dodd is the founder and director of the Centre. She is a photographer and a PhD candidate in anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast. With the Centre, she has conducted workshops in international locations, including at Documentary Arts Asia in Thailand and at the Yangon Photo Festival in Myanmar. Savannah has also developed an online training programme in photography ethics in partnership with the Thomson Foundation. The Photography Ethics Centre has been recognised by a number of awards in the short time that since its founding, including being short-listed for the Howard Chapnick Grant.


The Critical Academy offers a growing series of seminars around key aspects of contemporary Arts practice aimed at developing and strengthening key skills and mindsets, taught in participatory environments with clear and focused aims.

The Critical Academy opens up a new radical space to learn, research and examine contemporary art practices around Photography and their contexts, as much as the arts management and cultural policy that affect them.

The seminars look at very specific skills that are commonly considered secondary in the teaching of artistic practices, mostly focused on methodologies and theory. We consider these skills not complementary but fundamental for a sustainable practice and a wholesome life, and they contribute to a continuous self-development.

These relate to essential aspects and core values of a stable Arts practice, from daily administration routines, to competence in resolving grant aid paperwork, and understanding the importance of applied self-discipline; others refer to entrepreneurial matters, acknowledging both the artist’s output and the artist’s needs.