Interesting bit of news on Civil Rights photographer.

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Robert Brummitt, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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  2. panchro-press

    panchro-press Member

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    I know that's a big thing right now; but does his 'work' for the FBI invalidate his remarkable photographs?
    I think a photographers work must stand alone. I frankly don't give a damn about an artist's political leanings.
    Would his work have any more meaning were he to have been a member of the Communist Party?

    Dave
    -30-
     
  3. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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    I would agree! A photographers work should and mostly speak for itself. I vaguely recall that Margaret Burke-White was looked into becasue of her involvement with the early days of the Communist Russia. Then there is the whole history of Edward Weston's old flame in Mexico, Tina M.
    She was very mixed up with that conutry's political past.
     
  4. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    To me, there's a world of difference between an artist having a political leaning, and betrayal of the confidence conferred by your profession. Photographers often depend on special access and acting as a paid spy is a betrayal of the most basic ethics of journalism. It erodes trust in photographers and journalists and that weakens democracy.
     
  5. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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    But, maybe he or those he was watching over thought "What better way to find out what the FBI knows by working with them"?
     
  6. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Here's a story about it in the NY Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/us/14photographer.html?scp=1&sq=Withers&st=cse

    I think there was a lot of pressure from the FBI on people like Withers, and I'm sure he wasn't making much money on his pictures, they're certainly worth a lot more today. And, as Robert says, perhaps there is a bit of "keep you friends close, keep your enemies closer" in his dealing with the FBI. It strikes me as a bit out of character, so perhaps the benefit of doubt is in order here.
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    We do not know if he was black mailed into becoming an informant. There is not enough information for me to form an opinion.

    By the way, in the last scene he is shown with a Hasselblad. Did the FBI buy that for him?

    Steve