The People in the Pictures

Vital perspectives on Save the Children’s image making

June 2017



“My aim for us, having our pictures taken, was to make people more aware and to help families like mine… no one knows what it’s like unless you’re in that person’s shoes.” Mary, adult female, UK

“What was filmed is the way it is. There is no lie in it – that is the way it is… even what he said about the soup being prepared without salt.” Zoulaye, adult female, Niger

“We want to show people the truth and how we’re living… the world needs to see pictures taken by us.” Focus group with children (aged 14–18), Jordan

Debates about the visual representations of global poverty have been going on for many years, yet the experiences and views of those featured have been notably absent. 

The People in the Pictures addresses that gap.

We commissioned research in the UK, Jordan, Bangladesh and Niger, to listen to and learn from those who contribute their images and stories, as well as members of their communities. The research explored:

  • what motivated people to agree to Save the Children filming or photographing them or their children
  • how people experienced and perceived the image-making process
  • how people felt about their portrayal in the resulting Save the Children communications. 

The research highlighted many areas of good practice, as well as some concerns and challenges. It has resulted in a set of recommendations to embed greater agency and accountability for contributors into Save the Children’s image making.

We hope The People in the Pictures will extend the focus of discussions beyond images and audiences to include the process itself, and the perspectives of contributors and their communities.


PDF icon The People in the Pictures – full report1.92 MB
PDF icon The People in the Pictures – summary566.48 KB