ETHICS IN PHOTOJOURNALISM

In class on Thursday Mr. Sternbach brought up the subject of ethics of photojournalism to gauge our opinions in the field on images published. He showed us some strong images from some rather well known photographers with some thought provoking questions as follow up.


The first image was this one from Julia Le Duc on the US-Mexico border. He wanted to know if the image was appropriate for publications and I personally believe so. Firstly there are no faces shown in the images, the bodies are face down in the water so their identities aren't revealed, and while some might argue that the images are too strong for news or paper publication, I believe there's something important about the shock value of the images. It will turn heads and bring attention to those that don't take the situation at the border serious.


Photo #2 is a staged image from Giovanni Troilo while he was creating a 10 photo series for World Press Photo. It was later disqualified after it was found out he lied about the context of the photo, using his cousin and setting up flashes in the car to create the image the way he wanted it. I believe some amount of staging and posing works in an image to tell a story to the best of your ability, but I think Giovanni was too attached to this image. Compound that with the fact that he lied to the publication about the way the photo was created and I think the disqualification is justified.


This photo by Philip Lorca Dicorcia was shot outside grand central terminal in 42nd street without this man's consent. It is street photography after all. Later on it was showcased in galleries and eventually sold for $10,000 at auction. When the man found out he tried to sue Philip for using his image without permission and lost in court, it was asked of us whether or not we feel it should be legal. I think so personally especially if it's street photography though if someone discovers images are made with their likeness without consent a portion of proceeds should go to them. Maybe 5-10% as compensation would work.


The next image was awarded a Pulitzer prize in 1980 but the photographer decided to remain nameless until 30 years later. Mr. Sternbach asked it we felt winners or grants and prizes should be mandated to give names when they're awarded. I believe it is fair for people to choose to remain anonymous, especially for a sensitive subject like this. A shooting captured in Iran, people being put down by a shooting squad. I can see the importance of the photographer choosing not to be named here. He was also a Muslim man, making this of even greater importance to him morally I'd imagine.


This was my favorite of all the photos shown to us in class that day. Taken in Sudan in 1993 by Kevin Carter it was questioned whether or not the photographer taking an image like this should be compelled to act or intervene to save the child's life? Everybody in the class (including me) said yes. The photographer should prioritize helping over documenting in this situation, but after our discussion professor let us in on the fact that the father of the boy was standing directly to the right and was cropped out of the final image! I guess context makes a huge difference when judging the ethics of a published photo.

I think this image follows the same rules as the first one, there is no clear view of the child's face so I think it allows the image to be moving and informative while remaining ethical.

Next we were presented this image of Fabio Casartelli's death during a race in both colour and black and white and asked which one we felt was more graphic. I think keeping the colour in the image and allowing the reds in the blood and be as vibrant makes this version way more graphic and honestly, stronger in conveying a message than in black and white.

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