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Old 05-09-2007, 01:40 PM
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paulalex32 paulalex32 is offline
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Default Ethics in photography....

Sounds serious, doesn't it? Actually, this has probably been discussed here many times before. However, since I am relatively new here and am too lazy to look back too far in the archives, I thought I would breach this topic again. I know there are many different ethical concerns in photography (photoshop manipulation, subject material, etc.) but my main concern is with that of some of the people we photograph. Recently, I took a photo of an elderly man who looked as though he may be under some stress. To me it captured a very human and, for many of us, normal moment. However, there is a side of me that questions my "right" to share it with anyone, let alone the entire planet. Had I asked this man, "Is it OK that I share this moment of your life with the entire world?" What would be his answer? What would be my answer if he asked me the same question?
My other concern is that of accessability. How far should we go to get that photo? If someone is grieving, for example, should we still try to get the image we want? Consider that this has to be contemplated from many different cultural perspectives as well (this being Trekearth). One need only look at the media here in Taiwan to draw many questions about accessibility. I have seen news footage of camera operators following a police assault team right into the fray!
So these are my concerns. Your thoughts are appretiated. Cheers, Paul.
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Old 05-09-2007, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

You are not going to get a clear answer on that... among others the border is in your mind: if you feel uncomfortable by posting a specific picture with a human being on it just don't do it... if you think you would harm this person then REALLY don't do it...
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Old 05-09-2007, 05:13 PM
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

Hi Adam,
Yeah I know there are no straight answers. This is almost like bringing up religion, politics or abortion without the consequences. In the end, as I said to polonaise, I think that if someone is willing to commit any kind of act in public, then it is something that is open to the public. I have also asked, what if this were under different circumstances? What if he was napping at work? What if I was a war corespondent sending pictures back of the trajedy of war? I am not necessarilly troubled by this image to the point of questioning my own ethics and wondering whether or not to post it. Indeed, I did post it. I do, however, have some reservations. But the belief that we need to share these more than human moments overrides all my reservations. To me this image represents a slice of everyday humanity that may allow many of us to reflect upon our impact on others. Perhaps the next time we encounter someone we can remember images like this and remember that everyone has troubles and we should, perhaps, express more empathy. Then again, maybe I am just trying to justify this all to myself. Cheers, Paul.
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Old 05-09-2007, 07:42 PM
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Polonaise Polonaise is offline
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

Your doubts are your treasures, Paul.
Preserve them within. They will make you richer on inside.


(Sure...Your marriage will go down the drain, but that's a completely different story and a different web site!)

(:-))))))))))))))))))))

Have a great day, pal.
george
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Old 05-10-2007, 04:06 AM
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Furachan Furachan is offline
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

Paul,
I've shown just about every kind of unguarded moment - in the street, on ships, trains and dimly-lit restaurants. Part of you will "afford the luxury" of worrying about the ethics, sure but the HUNTER, Paul, asks no questions. I'm not being flippant and I've agonized over the appropriateness of some of my stuff but here'S something for you to think about: in the 1930's the greatest street shooter of ALL TIME, Henri Cartier-Bresson while at a bohemian party in Mexico City stumbled into a bedroom where the door was ajar - there he found a couple of lesbians in each other'S arms, kinda making love. The resulting picture is regarded, as are most of his work, as a masterpiece, and it is shown routinely in museums all over the world. That's a heck of a lot further than I've ever gone.
Where do we draw the line?
There is no line.
As Winogrand says "all there is is light on a plane..."
I'll end with this - what separates a serious photographer from an eternal amateur is the wilingness to GO AFTER THE SHOT, Paul, and worry afterward...
I know this was no help at all, but there is something inherently creepy, stalker-like and clinical about street shooting in particular - you either live with that and shoot the best way you can, or you turn to studio portraits and landscapes.
Sorry...
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Old 05-10-2007, 04:13 AM
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

Hi Paul,

I was kind of surprise to read your thread. My surprise is to see someone expressing his own doubts, his own thoughts and questions, his open-mindedness to different views. I admire you for that and respect this a lot.

I have to say that when I begin to take photos, I had no wish to do people photos. I'm kind of shy, so I just could not imagine myself doing such a thing as taking photos of people I would not know. I know I will probably never be a good photographer of people like George (Polonaise), Kev Ryan (KevRyan), Sarolta (designsoul) and Jerzy Bucki (bantonbuju), to name just a few of the geants of this site of people's photography. But still, I did a few tries here and there. And what was the easiest way for a shy person? People sleeping, or not conscious of my presence. But, I felt kind of bad with it. I felt like "cheating". So, I never posted such a photo. And once, I read a critique of Jerzy Bucki about a photo of someone in a train that was sleeping. He did not agree with it, for the same reasons that George gave to you in your photo. And it made me decide against it, at least for myself.

Another thing is about people suffering (poor people, hungry people, beggars, homeless, etc...) It gives me a hard time, I have to say. I have the feeling sometimes that it is "too easy" in a way. Hey! We don't help, but we take a photo and share it to the world and say "Look at the poor people! How bad we are not to help them!" and so on and on and on... It gives me rash. For me, there is a thin line between ethical photos and non-ethical ones. And since I am still not sure where that line is, I refrain from going near.... Oh dear, I hope I am making sense (so difficult to express such ideas in English for me...)

Like so many things in life, there could be exceptions. There are surely cases where I would approve such a decision. It has to have meaning. And serve a good, a higher purpose. To take a photo of someone sleeping for example, just because he/she has his mouth opened, and he/she looks funny is not a good reason, in my modest opinion.

Hope it help, in a way.

Still thinking about all these questions myself, I thank you for your input. My respects Paul.

Claire
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Old 05-10-2007, 06:20 AM
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Clairedelune Clairedelune is offline
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

A line or no line... that is the question! ;-)

You know what Francis? It may looks like if I answered to you about the "line". But the fact is that I wrote my comments about the same time as you. So, what a surprise it was to read "Where do we draw the line? There is no line." after what I had written about the "thin line" without me knowing that you were writting that at the same moment!

One sure thing, I will never be a Winogrand or a HCB. But, I am not disappointed. I never hoped to be Winogrand or HCB. I have already full my hands for trying to be simply Claire Vιzina... :-))
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Old 05-10-2007, 07:27 AM
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

Well said, Francis. If I don't take a shot, of someone, that could have been worthwhile, I feel I was cowardly, not respectful. On the other hand, I feel that shooting people in misery should be done only if there is an ulterior motive behind it, a project, an NGO assignment, or a strong, visceral calling for such subjects (which few have).
Besides, if a bit off-topic, some willing subjects have been more offended by the result from the photographer's eye and keen intellect, baring them to the soul, than possibly someone reproving being shot in public, which usually comes not from privacy being invaded,but THE IDEA OF privacy being invaded. There is more forbidding another in it than protecting oneself. IMO.
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Old 05-10-2007, 10:47 AM
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paulalex32 paulalex32 is offline
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

Hey Furachan,
Actually, I find your comments refreshing and quite helpful. I think you are absolutely correct in your hunter analogy. That is what it feels like very often and when we squeeze off that shot KNOWING we got what we came for, there is no better feeling for me (well, you know ;-) ). Thanks very much for your input. Cheers, Paul.
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Old 05-10-2007, 10:56 AM
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paulalex32 paulalex32 is offline
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Default Re: Ethics in photography....

Hi Claire,
Thanks for your input and thanks for using English. I teach English here in Taiwan and also study Chinese so I know of the difficulties one has with expression in their second or third language.
Well, I am glad to get all this feedback and find out that I am not the only one who struggles with this dilema. I must say though, I would rather risk it and take the image than pass it by. Not for fame or fortune, but to share my experiences with life and people. To me, the man in my photo represents a side of life we all must face. Although we can only guess at his thoughts, I think he can offer us a reflection of ourselve when we are in a bad place. As I have said to others, if nothing else, I hope that he can remind us to be empathetic to others. They are, after all, just as frail as we are. So maybe when we spend time with others, we can remember that they represent all that we do, a complex life. Cheers, Paul....
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