An Analysis of Photographic Portrayal of Female Sex Trafficking: A Discussion of Viewer Interaction and Promotion of Thoughtful Practices


Laura Decker, JD, MPH | September 20 | 4:00-5:00 PM

Topic: Conceptual | Knowledge Level: Beginner, Intermediate

In a world that is increasingly visual, it is important to consider how viewers interact with photographs placed in the public sphere. This interaction is particularly crucial when the photograph is part of an educational campaign to promote awareness of female sex trafficking. The purpose of this presentation is to provide the following: 1) an introduction of how a viewer interacts with photographs, 2) a presentation of three photographs used by campaigns to promote awareness of female sex trafficking 3) an analysis of how a viewer may interact with each of the photographs based on two types of viewer experiences 4) a discussion of how or if the photographs move the viewer to take appropriate action to help end female sex trafficking in the United States, and 5) a conclusion discussing best practices of thoughtfully and effectively moving a viewer to a pro-social action as opposed to a momentary gaze of a photograph. This research is grounded in a literature review of pro-social experts in the field of rhetoric of the photograph, and a thorough analysis of the three photographs. The two viewer experiences are the viewer who is engaged in ending the crime and the viewer who sees a campaign with no prior knowledge of the issue. The short-term goal of this research is to promote a thoughtful dialogue about how female sex trafficking is portrayed with particular emphasis on the body. The long-term goal is to move all individuals to assist in promoting thriving in communities.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Illuminate how female sex trafficking is being portrayed in campaigns that use photographs.

·  Raise awareness of different types of viewer experiences when developing educational campaigns for female sex trafficking in the United States.

·  Advise how to thoughtfully portray the crime of female sex trafficking without exploitation of the body.

·  Instruct how to accurately portray female sex trafficking when using photographs in educational campaigns for female sex trafficking.

·  Expose how photographs may or may not move the viewer to take appropriate action to help end female sex trafficking in the United States.

·  Determine best practices of thoughtfully and effectively moving a viewer to a pro-social action as opposed to a momentary gaze of a photograph.

About the Presenter