* Reference: Journalisten Werkstatt – Visuelles Storytelling | Keine Nachricht ohne Bilder (2019)
Now we are going to dig a bit deeper into the core of Fairpicture. As our company name claims, we try to do visual communication in a fair manner. And when we talk about fairness, we pretty soon end up with the term „ethical“. Fair, ethical – what do those terms mean with regard to storytelling? When is a story fair or ethically “correct”?
Ethical storytelling – more than a buzzword
Although the term „ethical storytelling“ is pretty well discussed and a buzzword within our communities, I guess each person would come up with a different definition for it. But let’s give it a try and look what Google says:
Ethical storytelling is the practice of honouring ourselves and others when sharing narratives. It is the practice of recognising that stories are beautiful, powerful representations of self and that no one has just a single story. We contain multitudes. We each have our own experiences, narratives, and complexity.
So, this is one definition. And it contains some of the values we share at Fairpicture. I also like „No-Wahala“‘s approach – an online magazine for authentic visual storytelling by African creators. They published an article about ethical storytelling and stated:
It is important to note that ethical storytelling is subjective, people’s thoughts on what is ethical and what isn’t may differ based on the context and circumstances of the situation. […]
There you go. Ethical storytelling depends on context, circumstances and the individual perspectives we all have due to our different societies and backgrounds. I think this is something we have to bear in mind. Something we can all agree on. At the same time, we at Fairpicture believe that there are some universal ideas on the fundamentals of what makes visual material ethical.
The 3 Rs at Fairpicture
After a lot of research and consulting work we did, e.g. for the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) or the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) we came up with the following three terms:
We call them the 3 Rs, which include almost all of our ideas and became part of our “Theory of change”. I would like to explain what we mean with those three terms and share one example each from our latest assignments we executed with visual creators and clients in 2022.
When we talk about relationships, we acknowledge the fact that we are all embedded in different power relations on many levels: globally and within our society. This structures our access to resources, information and opportunities.
And the visual industry is not a neutral field, but quite the contrary when it comes to the access to jobs and resources, which are unequally spread across the globe and within societies.
In the global context, Western visual creators have dominated storytelling about people from the Global South for a very long time. They were the ones with privileged access to resources and assignments. That’s why one objective of Fairpicture is to create opportunities and work with local visual creators from the Global South whenever possible.
All those points mentioned mean that we are moving within a field that is highly impacted by owner relations. To counteract unequal power relations, we have to be aware of them and do something against them.
[ Related Case Study: Visual Power Dynamics | Client: WeltWegWeiser ]