The Ethics of Filming and Photographing Human Remains and Other Sensitive Subject Matter

WED, SEP 27, 3:30-5:30pm

Visual journalists and documentary filmmakers face a host of questions regarding the ethical dimensions of their work. What does it mean to document someone else’s story? Does access to a community grant you special insight? What is the difference between a “subject” and a “participant” in visual journalism and documentary? What unique ethical considerations arise out of working with communities that have been historically marginalized? What is the difference between long-form or essay journalism and the “breaking” news approach taken by large news media outlets?

Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz and photographer and visuals editor, Roberto (Bear) Guerra, will share examples of their collaborative work on recent film projects El Equipo (2023), Latino Vote (2020) and Harvest Season (2018) as well as Guerra’s photographic work. They will share insights about the opportunities and challenges of integrating documentary film and still photography, as well as discuss ethical approaches to working on projects dealing with sensitive subject matter.


ROBERTO (BEAR) GUERRA is a photographer and the visuals editor of High Country News magazine. His photographic work has been published in the New York Times, Emergence Magazine, The Atlantic, Le Monde, University of Texas Press and many other outlets and organizations, and has been exhibited widely. He has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award in Photojournalism, has been selected on multiple occasions for the American Photography annual and was a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. In his role as visuals editor at High Country News, he has helped guide the magazine to recognitions for art and design by the National Magazine Awards, the Indigenous Journalists Association, the Institute for Nonprofit News and American Photography. Bear is also a member editor of Diversify Photo, where he supports and mentors emerging photographers from communities underrepresented in the media industry.