Our team was recently at an introductory meeting with a new client, and the topic of sensitivity and participant care-taking came into the conversation as a concern for the client. We're always glad when it does come to the forefront of a client's mind, because that means our priorities are aligned - they're putting the wellbeing of participants and interviewees in front of the story, which is always where we place the most importance.
We have strict ethical guidelines in our work not only because of our journalism backgrounds as a team, but because we as individuals uphold strong ethics and values in our own lives, in our own day-to-day interactions with others. We're aware of the power we hold as storytellers with tools, and we ask subjects to make themselves vulnerable through the interview and storytelling process. As such we have a great responsibility to make sure we operate within the comfort of those subjects from beginning to end and beyond. The process involves building relationships, building trust, and intently listening, all keys to crafting beautiful stories and letting people's words be truly felt.
We start every interview ensuring the participant that they are fully in control of what goes into the story - they don't have to say or answer anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, and even if they do, they have the right to strike it from the record. We're often in sensitive, nuanced situations where people may be hesitant about our presence, and we're sure to never push any boundaries to "get the shot". We are humbled when we're welcomed into communities, into people's lives, and respecting them is our number one priority.
When our ethics and values are aligned with those we're working with and for, the storytelling process is truly powerful and impactful for all those involved.