Photojournalism in question.....


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Zerstorer

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We all read about the incident with the LA Times reporter in the Gulf war,

Now we have this:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=5869258

One question to ask is when is it "too much"? Burning and dodging is certainly part of the PJ's workflow, we even see James Nachtwey doing it in the docu-movie "War Photographer".

Perhaps it may be reasonable to say that emphasizing/de-emphasizing picture elements is fine, but not to the point where they are concealed or totally altered?

However, this brings to mind another aspect of photojournalism--interference with the actual event. Sometimes, some PJs would resort to asking people to pose or fake scenes during event coverage, so as to get a better, more dramatic shot. How ethical is this? And how far would one go?

Would appreciate some comments, especially from those involved in photojournalistic work.
 

reno77

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If Ansel Adam's does it, its considered art. But if a photojournalist does it, its cheating ?

Furthermore what does "Reflect Reality" mean ? Capture images like how the eye sees them ?
 

Siddhi

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The photojournalist's job is to foremost tell the truth. So any manipulation in order to change the truth is not acceptable. They are journalists first and photography is the means of doing journalism. For example, a newspaper journalist cannot say that authors who write fiction use their imagination and call it art, so why can't they also use their imagination and make up things. It is obviously absurd to even think that a journalist would do that. So the same rule applies for photojournalism.
 

Jed

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#4
Siddhi said:
The photojournalist's job is to foremost tell the truth.
Actually in my experience the photojournalist's job is to foremost tell the story. By story I don't mean fictional, but the story of the newsworthy event. While this does in theory mean sticking to the truth, all I am saying here is that the primary allegiance of the photojournalist is to getting the story, not hounding out the truth. That's more investigative (photo)journalism.
 

Zerstorer

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Jed said:
Actually in my experience the photojournalist's job is to foremost tell the story. By story I don't mean fictional, but the story of the newsworthy event. While this does in theory mean sticking to the truth, all I am saying here is that the primary allegiance of the photojournalist is to getting the story, not hounding out the truth. That's more investigative (photo)journalism.
Well, that is certainly true, but sometimes editorial demands may require you to present a warped view/perspective of the issue. A picture is a very powerful tool as what it captures is just a fragment of a larger event. Viewing one event alone and not in its entirety can easily lead to a very different view of the actual event.

In any case, this is merely selective reporting.

What about those who concoct/pose images and situations?
 

Siddhi

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About posing and concocting situations, its a gray area. My personal view is that it should not be allowed. It may be allowed if it is marked that it is a posed shot. In any case, it should not be false, should not represent something that is not there in reality.
 

Ian

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One of the first things you learn as a PJ is that the camera can indeed be made to lie, or more accurately to depict the version of reality you want it to depict.

Photojournalism is as Jed points out all about telling a story with a picture or series of pictures. Depending on the number of shots published and the content the image used may or may not portray the event as it really happened.

A good example of reality distortion is using a lens and camera angle and observers (read camera position) perspective to give the impression that a certain 'event' actually happened. For example, the use of a long tele can give the impression that some one is taking aim at someone with a rifle, yet the reality may be that the rifle is being pointed at a different target. This trick is an old one in the PJ arsenal and is often used by editors to colour the tone of an accompanying print article.

Most readers would probably be surpised at how often images are used to change the context of an event.
 

Siddhi

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Yeah well of course it is very easy to lie with the camera. The point being - is it desirable. My opinion is that just because it is easy to do and it is done by many, does not make it right. It is on the same level as fabricating a news report, another thing that is easy to do, but wrong.

This is where credibility of the news organisation comes into the picture. For journalists, credibility and reputation is everything; once it has been tarnished, its almost impossible to get it back. The reason for this is because the public places so much importance on accurate reporting.

The question asked is how ethical is it to do a posed shot. In my opinion it is completely unethical. The fact that it happens all the time is a different matter and does not make it ethical.
 

Jed

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#9
Siddhi said:
The question asked is how ethical is it to do a posed shot... The fact that it happens all the time is a different matter and does not make it ethical.
Excellent! I'll just get Becks to hold a pose next time I see him then :bsmilie:

Zerstorer, agree with you, I never said PJs are there to tell the true story, just to tell a story. Hence I said they weren't there to tell the truth.
 

Siddhi

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Hmm it seems the confusion stems from the fact that we are talking about two different things here. Obviously posing Becks is a different matter to staging scenes about the gulf war. I'm was talking about the specific case of documentary photojournalism, which is what the link given in the first post is about. When its documentary, you expect that its truthful. You are correct is saying that its probably not a big problem staging events in other forms of photo journalism, although it would still be a gray area.
 

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I truthfully agrees that a photographer has the power to manipulate truth. Yet the truth is that photographers are human afterall, and can have his personal perception or views. I feel that inorder to be a more 'humane' pj, one must be able throw away all his believes and perception on the situation or his subject.

If you feel strongly about something even before you go for a shoot, you will be 'literally' searching for the image in your mind ignoring the truth infront of you. A pj must be able to observe and balance his thoughts and feelings before he goes for a shoot. He must not be judgemental but open to the moments and events which he sees and captures with his camera.

As for burning and dodging, it's only a printing techinique to make the image stronger or asthetically more pleasing. Of course there are cases where images are heavily manipulated. That fully depends on the genre of photography (ie. fine arts) where artist expression is more appropriate.

There is nothing wrong with pictorial manipulation. There is also nothing wrong about not manipulating your images. The key is to use it appropriately. Ansel Adam is considered a fine art photographer; not a photojournalist. There's absolutely no problem with him burning , dodgeing and even bleaching of his prints; even to the point if the picture does not look like the real setting. If he were to do a straight print, he won't probably be what he's known for today.

As for pj, the point of interest is not so much of the print but the subject itself. The compostion, the setting, the events or story of the picture becomes the point of focus. In such case, the subject of the picture become more important then the print itself.

In this case good printing is crucial it drawing people's attention. But one should not rely heavily on this part whilke ignoring the main fact.
 

Jed

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#12
Siddhi said:
Hmm it seems the confusion stems from the fact that we are talking about two different things here. Obviously posing Becks is a different matter to staging scenes about the gulf war.
Actually, I believe the confusion stems from the fact that you think we are talking about two different things here, when in fact there is only one. What's different about asking Becks to, let's say, score that goal again, moving slightly to the right this time and shooting into the top corner as opposed to the bottom, compared to staging scenes in the Persian Gulf? Both are news, both should be given the same amount of respect. The integrity of both should be every bit the same.
 

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