Matca by Savannah Dodd

Photograph by  Ha Dao

Photograph by Ha Dao

While in Hanoi, I had the chance to catch up with the amazing team at Matca and I stopped by to take a look at their zine making workshop. I am totally inspired by the work that these local photographers are producing. As someone whose day to day work is largely solitary, it was so refreshing to be surrounded by these creative people, to see their work, and to speak with them about their artistic practices.

I'm also in awe of a lot of the work that Matca is doing. One thing about this workshop that was really cool was that participants had the option to donate editions of their photozines to local galleries around Hanoi to share their work in a public forum. This is such a great opportunity for emerging artists, and it's really wonderful that Matca is raising the profile of Vietnamese artists in this way.

Introducing the Photography Ethics Centre by Savannah Dodd


If you subscribe to my newsletter, you may (but probably do not) remember a vague comment I made last March, that my work in photography might look very different at the end of the year. Or perhaps you saw my blog post in June about the workshops I conducted on photography ethics in Thailand and Vietnam. Well, many months later, I'm ready to tell you about the Photography Ethics Centre.

In anthropology, we talk about ethics all the time. This has greatly influenced my work as a photographer, and it has given me a huge advantage. Bringing ethics into my work has helped me to gain access to communities and situations in socially responsible ways, and to build relationships around the camera so that when I return, I'm welcomed. The ethical approaches that I have adopted  give me confidence to post photographs online or to share them with you here, because I know that I have consent and that I have respected the dignity of the people in my images.

When I began to get more involved in the world of photography about 3 years ago, I realised that ethics is not at the forefront of many photographers' minds - for some it isn't even on their radar. Exploring this more, I realised that it isn't so much a total rejection of ethics, but a lack of awareness about what ethics means. That's why I founded the Photography Ethics Centre: to bring the kind ethical training that we get in anthropology to photographers.

The Photography Ethics Centre is a social enterprise dedicated to raising awareness about ethics in photography. We offer workshops and consulting services, and we will soon offer online training. If you would like to learn more about our work, visit our website, follow us on Facebook, get in touch with me directly by email, or register for an invitation to our official launch in Spring 2018.

Portraits one year on by Savannah Dodd


Last year, the Yangon Photo Festival coincided with Myanmar's historic presidential election. I photographed the streets on that day, and those images became my Election Day series. The series includes several portraits of people I met downtown.

I was impressed by the willingness of people to be photographed. Perhaps this is because Myanmar only recently opened to tourism and people are not yet fatigued by the onslaught of tourist cameras. But I worried that people would feel like I was taking their image and leaving them nothing in return.

So this year, as I packed my bags, I included a selection of prints from the portraits I had taken last year. With the immense help of a friend and translator, I was able to locate 11 of the 20 portraits I brought. Each time we located an image, we asked to photograph the individual with the print from the previous year and we gave him or her the print.

We were not always able to find the individuals pictured, but friends, family, and coworkers were happy to step in and accept the photograph on their behalf. I think people were happy with the images, and many were eager to direct us to the person in the next photograph.

Of course offering a photograph is a token gesture. But maybe the next time someone asks to take their photograph, they will remember this experience. Maybe this is a step toward a more reciprocal relationship. Maybe it is a step toward nothing in particular, but it feels good to give something back.