I will call you at 12 noon tomorrow but I also wanted to answer your questions in email form. I do better when I have time to think things through carefully. Tonight I am printing for "TRUMPET" and thinking over your questions. Here are the written form answers. We can talk about them in more detail when I call you. The answers below are rather long winded, be forewarned!
That is a real danger, and something I have thought about a great deal. Documentary work can be exploitative if you’re going about things the wrong way or for the wrong reasons. Years ago I asked Lisa about it. She came up with an answer that satisfied me, a simple way to judge what was right and what was wrong. She simply said to me "WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?". I think that is the answer. What motivates you to make the pictures? Why are you making the photographs? Why are you there? After you make the photos, what will you do with the work?
The documentary photographer knows if he is exploiting a person or a situation. They know in their hearts what their TRUE MOTIVATIONS are.
Why am I photographing "The Families of the Dump"? I am doing it to document-educate, to experience-understand and to help my subjects directly through the creation of the art work.
Not exploiting also has a very personal one on one element. You treat people you photograph with kindness and courtesy, ask permission before shooting, do not photograph those that do not want to be photographed etc. There are also times you simply do not make pictures out of respect for your subject. When I am photographing I do that quite often. During my documentary photo series "My Fathers Last Days" I put down the camera many times, and just simply helped my father, turned away to offer him privacy, told him I loved him or gave him a kiss. If you have heart and purpose in your work you know when it is right to make a picture and when it is not right. I always try to follow my heart.
Here is one of the blog page donation links, lots more on the site, I wrote about it several times.