KATE PATTISON, HEAD OF STORIES, FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY AT OXFAM

Thursday, 14 June 2012


Oxfam’s cutting-edge campaigns with Martin Parr, Rankin and Alejandro Chaskielberg prove charity photography has left the clichéd, sensationalist images of the past far behind. We ask Oxfam’s Head of Stories, Film and Photography, Kate Pattison, how emerging photographers can use their talent to help others…

What is Oxfam’s policy on how you represent people photographically? 
We believe people should be represented as human beings with dignity. The way you judge whether or not a picture should be used is by thinking: if that was someone in your family, would you want it to be shown? Anything that takes away their humanity, we would never use. It’s also about breaking the stereotype about Africa being this place where people are victims. It’s [about] presenting people in their true light as agents of their own destiny.

There will always be times when it’s important to show the situation as it is – if you’re documenting a humanitarian emergency and people are hungry, ill or injured, we do need to show that. But there are ways of doing it that move away from shocking sensationalism and show people’s humanity and strength – little things like [showing people] holding someone’s hand or cradling a baby.

What’s the best way for a photographer to approach you with their work? 
Do something proactive. We’ve got 800 shops on the high street – go and do some photography in a shop. That’s going to make us think, “Wow you’ve actually done something that shows you’re keen to work for Oxfam”. If you don’t want to do that, just send off your most amazing brilliant picture. Embed it in an email and ask when’s a good time to call.



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