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Photographic ethical question. I know what side of the fence I lie… - Me And My Quirky Quarks. — LiveJournal
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Sep. 12th, 2005 @ 09:23 am (no subject)
Photographic ethical question. I know what side of the fence I lie on, but I'm curious what other people think.

A student posted a picture she took for her school paper. It was covering a story on the astronomy class. It was while they were using their telescopes at night. The instructor for the astronomy class suggested (s)he use a tripod and specifically told him/her not to use his/her flash.

They took some long exposures and felt they were too dark, so (s)he did exactly what they asked him/her not to do, use there flash. (S)he seems to feel the fact that (s)he was working is reason enough to disturb/ruin someone elses day of work. In my mind, they could have waited till they were finishing up and taken it when the flash would not have mattered.

I'm curious how how far you think someone should go to get a story, and how much the importance of the story affects that line in the sand.

Here is the original article:

http://www.livejournal.com/community/photojournals/1026407.html

Discuss! What are the ethic of photojournalism?
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From:dstroy
Date:September 12th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
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thats friggin annoying. flash would screw up everyone's vision and interfere.
I went to a wedding where the photographer would stop the couple in the midst of celebration so he could arrange her dress and move his arm for that "celebratory cake smashing moment" to look just right for the picture. wtf? That may have made the pictures pretty, but the actual event was posed and forced - NO ONE HAD FUN with this bastard interfering all the time.
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From:tyrsalvia
Date:September 12th, 2005 04:47 pm (UTC)
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If her long exposures were too dark, then duh, she should have made them longer. She could also have used a red spotlight, which doesn't disrupt telescopic work and can still provide significantly more light for a photographer.
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From:elnigma
Date:September 12th, 2005 05:21 pm (UTC)
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I think her ass should be kicked out of the school. She has no right to harm another student to "get cuter pictures". If she really cared, there's such thing as borrowing infrared. But simply - she's lazy and unprofessional and a bully.
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From:aaangyl
Date:September 12th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC)
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I left the following comment:

"Your lack of skills and planning does not ever serve as an excuse to interefere with the situation you're supposed to be documenting. Professionality involves understanding this."
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From:notsuchapatriot
Date:September 12th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC)
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The person who compared her to the paparatzi was right, and everyone else who posted was right when they said it was completely unethical. Many of our historical photographs and newsreels from WWII were shot after the fact. The Russians made the German's move across the street in an old decrepid building which onces housed the Nazi political offices (and most of the Russian people believed that to be the place where Nazi HQ was located) and then had then re-sign their surrender... All for postarities sake.

You are right, she should have waited until they were done to get her shots in. In the mean time she could have been paying attention and learning about what they were talking about so that she could get a better feel for the experience. She's seriously an unethical bitch and should be fired from her paper.
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From:adameros
Date:September 12th, 2005 06:24 pm (UTC)
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I have ethical issues with that also. It's not really journalism if you have them re-enact the scene. I understand that sometime posing might be needed, but it is a real gray area.
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From:notsuchapatriot
Date:September 13th, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC)
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I don't see why you would have an ethical issue with having a college astronomy class look through the telescope again after they were done for a couple pictures. #1 It's a school paper about a school's astronomy program or something similar, it's not like it's a major humanitarian disaster and you're asking refugees to lay there until a fly lands on just the right spot on their face. #2 It wouldn't have interfered with the student's studies the way a flash would. #3 It's already common practice for similar 'stagings' to be done after the fact in the political arena so that the press can get their photo ops.

Odds are that 99% of the other students in that school wouldn't have known that the event had been re-done to get the best shots. And how many of the readers would have even cared that they had staged the events a second time to allow her to get better pictures? I really don't see the conflict in ethics there. At least not with this project.
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From:adameros
Date:September 13th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC)
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It's generally unethical to ask your subjects to pose and claim it an action short, or to ask for re-enactments without letting the audience know it is a re-enactment.

Ethics is not about what you might be caught doing, but what you do or don't do based on your moral character.

One of the most famous war photographers, Robert Capa, is still surrounded by controversy over whether or not he faked a picture of a spanish soldier being shot. It then becomes a question of, "if they faked this picture or misled us on this picture, can we believe the stated circumstances of that photographer's other photos?"
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From:notsuchapatriot
Date:September 14th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
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You're talking about two completely different situations though. You're talking about a picture that shows fierceness and brutality of war vs a college astronomy class. One is nothing more than a depiction of what was happening, with little or no emotion being called up by it, the other draws a series of different emotions as death will almost certainly do.

You're talking about photographic apples and oranges, it isn't ethical fake a soldier getting shot so you can get a shot, but on the other hand it's perfectly ok to take a picture of an astronomy class looking through a telescope a second time just for you. I think that the caption is also a factor though, I'm sure that Capa's photograph said something about a soldier being shot and / or killed. A caption for the astronomy class could just say "XXX a student at YYY university looks through the telescope at ZZZ observatory. Professor AAA and his class went to ZZZ observatory to study BBB." Now, the caption for Capa's photo would be a lie if it was faked, but the re-staged astronomy picture wouldn't be lying about it at all. Student XXX is a student at YYY and was at ZZZ looking through the telescope, professor AAA's class was there to observe BBB. Where would that violate ethics?
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From:xeroproject
Date:September 12th, 2005 10:01 pm (UTC)
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I agree with many of those comments. The downfall of modern journalism is the "get the story regardless of the cost" attitude taken by many and she reflects that ugly mentality perfectly. Not having the proper equipment to take the shot was her own fault for not properly researching what she needed to photograph. If she'd made a call or two and showed some forethought about the lighting conditions, she easily could have brought the proper equipment to "Document Without Disturbing" (DWD, the rule of thumb from my old high school journalism class). But instead she decided to punish the subjects for her own mistakes. Very pathetic indeed. I hope this person doesn't go on to have a career in journalism of any sort.
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From:adameros
Date:September 12th, 2005 11:16 pm (UTC)
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I could even see being obtrusive, if the article merited it. But those cases are extremely few and far between. Astronomy class is not of enough importance to intrude on people like that person did.