An international Symposium on Photography and Ethics

Photograph by Kent Klich / A Tree Called Home


An international Symposium on Photography and Ethics at the nexus of the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Practice. Hosted by the Department of Sociology, Lund University in collaboration with the Hasselblad Foundation and Landskrona Foto.


Landskrona Theater, Sweden. 30 September & 1 October 2021

This symposium take place at Landskrona theater. Most presentations will be in real-life but some presentations will be online due to travel regulations.

For you who cannot attend the symposium in person we will stream live on our Facebook page.


Photographic images, especially in series, essays or other kind of visual narratives, and social sciences research afford us insights into systems at the societal, institutional, group, or individual levels that otherwise would be disregarded as physical and social realities. However, in order to portray and convey the realities of such systems, recognizable individuals sharing their life, insights and emotional conditions are often depicted (photographed or studied) by other individuals than those documented.

Documenting realities of different systems raises questions around the purpose and power of the photographic image. As has been evident since the late 19th century, documentary photography can reveal unpleasant truths by capturing a variety of events that many would prefer to ignore and in that sense potentially become a tool for political change. But the genre and its practitioners has also been rightly criticised – consistently since the 1980s – from feminist and post-colonial positions for risking of silencing, victimising or exploiting their subjects.

Gaining knowledge about different systems, contexts, and cultures is an aim for both social science research and social documentary photography. Although the techniques, practices and outcomes are different, both struggle with similar basic issues, issues that are also ethical: Can we claim that what we study / describe offers a “truthful” depiction? What and who is included and what is excluded in the “framing”? What is our own role in the image we convey of what we study or document? To what extend can we give a credible picture of something we are not a part of (or at best, only temporarily a part of)? And to what extent are we creating our own interpretive precedence and our own “reality”? How do we as researchers and photographers avoid exercising symbolic violence over those we study and document via photography? How can we collaborate with and learn from the “reality” of the social groups we study or document ?

This symposium challenges us as photographers, researchers and viewers to be self-reflexive and engage in dialogue about ethical responsiveness and inclusive strategies in image and knowledge production.

To check the full program and to book the tickets, please go to the direct link.