Social Photography: the photography for social aims, without risking your life.

What do we need? By Sabrina Barbante – From the grassroot mapping of areas accessible for disabled, to social documentaries. From illegal dumps to street security. From above and […]

What do we need?

By Sabrina Barbante –
Aerialclick drone hunter
From the grassroot mapping of areas accessible for disabled, to social documentaries. From illegal dumps to street security. From above and from below, how can photography be used as a social support? Which are the tools needed to do it, and how to do it without risking your life despite your commitment? We’ll try to give some clue, with some actual example.
From grassroot mapping to illegal dumps.
Photography has recently given an increasing help in the phenomena of grassroot mapping.

The grassroot mapping is an activity performed in the ‘spare time’, by individual citizens.

Once it was mainly carried out by engineers or experienced people and passionate in matters of urban planning. Today, thanks to the accessibility and easiness of tools already online such as Open Street Map, all citizens can participate in the creation of maps that have specific utilities such as mapping of illegal dumps to be given to the police as a contribution to the authorities, by society itself (this was made for example in Italy, in an area particularly effected by the dump mafia, and in Brazil).

Photography from above of accessible areas.
Also mapping of the areas accessible for people with disabilities is an increasing activity among young photographers.
We have an important example of it in South Italy, in the city of Lecce, candidate as European Capital of Culture in 2019. Here, in October, there will be an ‘Hackathon’ promoted by an association called Movidabilia, a marathon for hackers or just IT experts who, in a set number of hours, map the accessibility of an entire region. And here comes the photographers, mainly those able to use a civil drone. In a time when the use of quadcopters in civil engineering is undergoing a fast development , a lot of professional (and non professional) photographers are willing to give their contribution by making a mapping of those areas previously shared on line, giving detailed pictures of the whole paths.


Social Photography against street accidents
Another example is the action made by a group of relatives of people killed or injured in street accidents in an area of the New Mexico where dying on the road was a social tragedy, with the features of a true war. All they did was monitoring an area with go-pros and cameras set all along the streets of the area, even using telescopic poles, and giving the resulting ‘map’ of the more dangerous points to the authorities in order to ask them to maintain the concrete where spoiled and increase the controls in the areas where fast speed was the main cause of the accidents. Police, after they were given the final document and reportage, also found out some important hub of the local drug trafficking.
What is need:
A certified quadcop, able to fly over the interested areas.
A go-pro to be set on the civil drone.
(in some cases) a telescopic pole.
An association of people to work with; it is important to have a plan of the areas to monitor and to keep in mind the main and first reason of your work.


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