Vegan Photographer's Ethics - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 12-06-2016, 01:50 AM
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Vegan Photographer's Ethics

Hi, everyone. I have an ethical question. I've been vegetarian for 9 months and vegan for 4 months now. I abstain from animal products and try to buy cruelty-free cosmetics.

Beside my day job, I'm a part-time photographer (digital, in case anyone asks). Recently, I've been offered to make an advertising photoshoot for my friends, two stay-at-home moms, who are starting a business. They are hand-crafting and selling knitted blankets from this "oversized" yarn. The only problem is they use merino wool. I've asked them about the source and they cannot say for sure if it's cruelty-free. I've seen PETA's films and information on the wool industry and I feel very upset.

On the other hand, I'm just a photographer, not the producer or seller. There is this issue of separating the professional tasks from our private opinions. Moreover, even though I'm afraid photographing their stuff might be inconsistent with my views, I'm sure I do lots of other inconsistent things on everyday basis, like using electronics and perhaps buying some non-fair-trade items (more or less unknowingly). Also, I know that my friends are trying to live reponsible lives, and their business would be a small and local one, which is good, I think. I'm scared of becoming too extreme.

So my question is: Do you think I should I take the job?
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#2 Old 12-06-2016, 02:00 AM
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I know of a baker who specializes in wedding cakes that could possibly give you some perspective on just such a moral dilemma.

The symbol of the race ought to be a human being carrying an ax, for every human being has one concealed about him somewhere, and is always seeking the opportunity to grind it.
- Mark Twain, a Biography
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#3 Old 12-06-2016, 02:13 AM
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I guess (?) you are suggesting I separate the work from ethics completely. However, I don't see myself making an ad campaign for a meat producer. In such a case, I would not be able to make this separation. So where's the line?
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#4 Old 12-06-2016, 07:54 AM
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I guess I've spent so much time viewing horrific images of animals being tortured in the past 9 years, that I've developed an 'allergy' to anything that involves animal use and I couldn't do it. Personally, I'm getting to the point where I don't even like most people because they mostly don't care that animals suffer if it means they can't eat them.

Tough decision for you.
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#5 Old 12-06-2016, 08:56 AM
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I honestly think you should trust your gut instinct and do whatever you personally want to do. If you are really very upset as you say, then it sounds like a no.

If you decide to reject, I suggest you do so with extreme politeness and no judgement as I suspect you would anyway.
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#6 Old 12-06-2016, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by JulieAngelica View Post
I guess (?) you are suggesting I separate the work from ethics completely. However, I don't see myself making an ad campaign for a meat producer. In such a case, I would not be able to make this separation. So where's the line?
That is a personal decision. If you're a paycheck away from being homeless, I would be more agreeable.
Your friends are very specifically promoting the use of a luxury item. While I'm sure there are ethical procurers of wool, they are few and with high expense. Creating a desire for wool only creates greater profits for the average suppliers that aren't humane.
The days of shearing a sheep once or twice a year, wearing the same sweater for years and years are mostly long gone.
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#7 Old 12-06-2016, 09:41 AM
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I know of a baker who specializes in wedding cakes that could possibly give you some perspective on just such a moral dilemma.
Not sure what you mean there. Are they vegan but work for a baker that uses eggs?
Personally I see a difference in ordinary foods and items that just for fashion and not at all needs
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#8 Old 12-06-2016, 02:35 PM
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Not sure what you mean there. Are they vegan but work for a baker that uses eggs?
Personally I see a difference in ordinary foods and items that just for fashion and not at all needs
I think Lippy was referring to the case when a baker refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple due to religious views. A "classic" dilemma between a job and personal beliefs.
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#9 Old 12-06-2016, 02:55 PM
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I'm a freelance graphic designer, so I can understand your dilemma. If it's not your main source of income, perhaps you can be a little more selective on whom your clients are/will be, but on the other hand if you are trying to build your business, it's tough to turn down work that could lead to other work via word of mouth. I think each individual has to decide where the line is for them personally. I would probably feel pretty conflicted with such a client as well, to be honest; merino wool is not, by nature, cruelty free, and even regular wool is often obtained from animals that wind up in the meat industry as well
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#10 Old 12-06-2016, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JulieAngelica View Post
I guess (?) you are suggesting I separate the work from ethics completely. However, I don't see myself making an ad campaign for a meat producer. In such a case, I would not be able to make this separation. So where's the line?
That certainly is what I first thought, but I couldn't see how wanting to deny people their rights can be compared to not wanting to participate in animal exploitation.

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#11 Old 12-06-2016, 04:59 PM
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That certainly is what I first thought, but I couldn't see how wanting to deny people their rights can be compared to not wanting to participate in animal exploitation.
The OP expressed a moral dilemma. She provides a professional service to the public. A member of the public wants to hire her to perform her service. As it happens, the OP finds the customer is going to use her service in support of an activity she finds morally objectionable. This activity is not illegal. The activity in question falls within all rights and benefits of being a citizen. Still, she feels the activity is morally objectionable.

Wedding cakes and photography.


I am not suggesting one make either choice. I am suggesting one should make a consistent choice.
To wit:
Service providers offering services to the public have an obligation to serve all of the public
-OR-
Service providers offering services to the public are free to withhold services to some of the public if they engage in morally objectionable, but not illegal, activities.
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Last edited by Lipps; 12-06-2016 at 05:02 PM.
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#12 Old 12-07-2016, 12:33 AM
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Yes, Lippy, thank you, this is exactly what I have in mind. The choice between the 1 OR 2 options is not that obvious for me. For every situation where I would choose 2, there is one where I would prefer 1. So being consistent is actually almost impossible
And this is one of the reasons why I chose to take the job. I know that in many other situations I might actually do worse things than photograph these blankets.
Besides, I'm doing it for my friends. I don't want them to see me as too extreme. The radicalism is one of the reasons veganism is so unacceptable to some people. I'm for taking small steps (as society) instead of not taking any at all. That being said, I told my friends I won't be buying any of their products, and showed them materials proving the industry is not "harmless" - as they had thought. Perhaps that will get them thinking more about their choices.
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#13 Old 12-07-2016, 04:19 PM
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For anyone questioning the practice of farming sheep for wool--
http://www.theethicalman.com/wool.html

I'm interested in why someone would be concerned of seeming "extreme" to their friends because they're against animals being mutilated? Sounds kinda backwards to me

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#14 Old 12-07-2016, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silva View Post
For anyone questioning the practice of farming sheep for wool--
http://www.theethicalman.com/wool.html

I'm interested in why someone would be concerned of seeming "extreme" to their friends because they're against animals being mutilated? Sounds kinda backwards to me
The issue is the ethical dilemma presented by the OP's morality, not necessarily the minutia of narrative.
-Her morality is such that she is opposed to animal cruelty, places high value on friendship, cares about the reputation of causes and beliefs she subscribes to, among other related and unrelated issues.
-Her ethics demand that she conduct herself in such a way that she not violate her morality (all of it, not just one part).

-Sometimes, our morality has a conflict, or the appearance of a conflict, with itself. This is how a code of ethics comes in handy. The code resolves the conflict by identifying the most beneficial course of action to keep the morality intact.
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The symbol of the race ought to be a human being carrying an ax, for every human being has one concealed about him somewhere, and is always seeking the opportunity to grind it.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

Last edited by Lipps; 12-07-2016 at 05:16 PM.
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#15 Old 12-08-2016, 01:58 AM
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I'm interested in why someone would be concerned of seeming "extreme" to their friends because they're against animals being mutilated? Sounds kinda backwards to me
The thing is, there are various degrees of "being against" anything, in this case, animal cruelty. You can:
1) stop buying certain products
2) get rid of some products you had before (which is not necessarily sensible)
3) stop working for producers and/or sellers/resellers of cruelty products
3) stop buying at certain shops where they also sell cruelty products (which would make life extremely difficult)
4) stop working at the above shops
5) campaign for cruelty-free living among your friends
6) engage in pro-animal initiatives
7) become an eco-terrorist

In my opinion, some of these levels might be deemed extreme (not only the last one).
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#16 Old 12-09-2016, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by silva View Post
For anyone questioning the practice of farming sheep for wool--
http://www.theethicalman.com/wool.html

I'm interested in why someone would be concerned of seeming "extreme" to their friends because they're against animals being mutilated? Sounds kinda backwards to me
I think you know the answer to that. Being extreme is all about being in the minority and going against the majority.
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