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  1. #1
    MDR
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    When Reality Isnít Dramatic Enough: Misrepresentation in a World Press and Picture of

    PKR who is I believe also a member on this site, posted a link on rangefinderforum to this interesting blog http://www.bagnewsnotes.com/2013/02/...winning-photo/.

    It seems that Magnum Photographers Paolo Pellegrin faked a story, misrepresenting the place, circumstances people etc.. he portrayed in his story.
    What might make this whole thing worse is that this story received numerous awards including the world press award and picture of the year award.

    Dominik

  2. #2
    cliveh's Avatar
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    A photo agency with the reputation of Magnum should not tolerate this and he should be immediately dispelled. Also any photo awards for this this image should be retracted. Unethical behaviour in the field of photo journalism is unforgivable.

    ďThe contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventionĒ

    Francis Bacon

  3. #3

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    The only problem is part of the caption; 'former sniper'. I'm not sure what emphasis this minor fabrication gives the photo, in contrast to perhaps 'former Marine'. Would that still have been an issue in context?

    There's also the 'false location' which sets up the series, but that's a set up, not a specific reference made either subjectively in the photo or to it through a caption.

    The filmmaker Werner Herzog does a similar kind of thing all the time, with fabrications. He calls it 'ecstatic truth' and gets away with it in the name of art. Magnum's internal conflict, of course, is that it is now made up of art photographers. The photographer, like most (hence Magnum's problems), doesn't have faith in straight photojournalism and obviously felt the need to create a narrative to give his images more weight in presentation. The real question should be; is there a greater good being aimed at? All photographs lie or skirt around the truth as we think we know it.

    I should add, I'm trying to understand this from the perspective of the photographer - since this is a photography forum. I put it down to pressure.
    The subject's beef is that it hurts his 'integrity' - he hasn't lost his job - I'd argue he'll probably make some new friends because of it. And possibly money...
    Last edited by batwister; 02-22-2013 at 07:40 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    'Cows are very fond of being photographed, and, unlike architecture, don't move.' - Oscar Wilde

  4. #4
    AgX
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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    The only problem is part of the caption; 'former sniper'. I'm not sure what emphasis this minor fabrication gives the photo, in contrast to perhaps 'former Marine'. Would that still have been an issue in context?
    There are two aspects to it. The misleading of the reader (or not misleading as you indicate) in the context of the story. And the effect it may have on the depicted person, who by informed persons might be regarded as a lier, based on the idea that he gave that information.

  5. #5
    Diapositivo's Avatar
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    I think you should read Pellegrin's answer and the site rebuttal.
    I am firmly with Pellegrin on this, and I think that it was the site's behaviour to be quite unethical.

    In accusing a photographer of a grave violation of certain integrity duties they do not exercise "critics" in the way a let's say motion picture critic does. There was some kind of "investigation" work which was not honestly conducted and which resulted in a lot of bullshit launched over a photographer through a fan.

    Their rebuttal is so ridiculous I don't even discuss it if not to say that it shows their low moral standard. They could have just said "sorry" and it would have been excusable. Climbing on mirrors never helps re-establishing a reputation of a site.

    In a reportage there always are portraits, reconstructions etc. which is perfectly fine when the images are honestly described. The publishing industry being a "cottage system industry" it may happen that the wrong caption goes with the picture. Pellegrin describes how the caption written by the photographer is separate from the "background information" that agencies distribute with the picture. The site goes on with their ridiculous accusations of having "lifted" text from other sources. Bleah.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
    Stock images at Imagebroker: http://www.imagebroker.com/#/search/ib_fbr

  6. #6
    Pioneer's Avatar
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    The bald fact of the matter is that he lied at least twice, once by commission and once by omission.

    First he specifically stated the the person in the photo was a marine sniper with his rifle. Not true

    Second he implied that this person was part of the Crescent area story he was covering, and that was not true. Though he did not say so, he certainly implied it.

    Now, based on how fast people are leaping to the defense of Mr. Pelligrin, this lying in the name of documentary photography is obviously acceptable, and by implication happens all the time and is done by everyone in the trade. So, why get all excited over it? Obviously the only thing wrong here was that he was caught at it by this terrible news column.

    This is what I think. The concern over Mr. Pelligrin's lack of ethics and integrity is more important than the sad state of affairs in the Crescent area of Rochester. The uproar is not about them, it is about him.

    Ahh well, poor people. Obviously Mr. Pelligrin's problem is far more important than their situation.

    Where there is smoke there is almost always fire. I have to believe at this point that this lying has probably gone on far longer than anyone is willing to admit...or investigate. Mr. Pelligrin failed in his duty to report the situation honestly. He needs to step up to the plate, apologize to the people of Rochester, and do what he can to make their problem more visible than him.

  7. #7
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, journalism has of late been more fraught with untruths and political posturing rather than just keeping to the facts. Why should we not expect photojournalism to descend into the same lack of integrity?

  8. #8
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    In reading over the original story and the photographer's rebuttal, frankly I don't see how his photo is relevant to the question of gun violence - it depicts a man holding a shotgun. He's not pointing it at the photographer, or firing it in any direction... to me, that's like taking a photo of me holding my circular saw and saying it is about injuries in the workplace. I'd buy the argument if it showed the subject in a room full of guns.

    Perhaps part of the argument between the subject and the photographer over calling him a 'sniper' is something that gets lost in a cultural divide between an Italian civilian and a US Marine. Having worked for the Marines, I know that they are EXTREMELY particular about anything and everything relating to service in the Corps, from uniforms to job specialties. So while it may not have meant much to the photographer, it means a lot more to the Marine.

    I just have a general problem with the whole concept of this "story" in the first place, as I don't really see it as documentary. It seems no more journalistic than Richard Avedon's American West series.

  9. #9
    Diapositivo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
    First he specifically stated the the person in the photo was a marine sniper with his rifle. Not true

    Second he implied that this person was part of the Crescent area story he was covering, and that was not true. Though he did not say so, he certainly implied it.
    It's really much ado about nothing.

    He said:
    <<
    Here is the caption for that picture: 'Rochester, NY, USA. A former US Marine corps sniper with his weapon.' Shane agrees that he is a former Marine and that he is standing with his weapon in Rochester. My firm recollection is that Shane described himself that day as a sniper. He may have misspoken; I may have misunderstood; or he may have used the word 'sniper' in a manner that was not meant to imply formal status as a Marine Corps Sniper (he spoke for a long time about sniping). In any event, if Shane was not actually a Sniper in the Marine Corps the caption should be changed to read 'Rochester, NY, USA. A former US Marine Corps member with his weapon.'
    >>

    The fact that a former soldier is described as being "a former Marine sniper" or "a former Marine" is totally irrelevant to the picture and to the story. This is what the photographer recollected. Memory works like that. Maybe they talked about some sniping and he later formed the concept he was a sniper. Who cares that he wasn't? What's the difference?

    If he had been a former schoolbus driver and the photographer had described as a former bus driver would had made any difference? Maybe for bus drivers being a bus driver or a schoolbus driver makes a difference. For the world it is factually irrelevant. The person is obviously not any more in service since many years .

    He never said the picture was taken in Crescent but again, frankly, that doesn't matter. The picture is evidently posed. It's a portrait. In a photographic service you dont' have people shooting each other or breaking into houses. You have to somehow "depict" things. It's normal. It's normal documentary photography. The photographer creates a situation that describes a situation. You cannot be there while somebody is raped to make a reportage about raping.

    <<
    I had been spending the majority of my time riding along with the Rochester police in the Crescent and otherwise interacting with the community there. I approached the work through a combination of reportage, portraiture, and even landscapes. I also realized that to tell more fully the story of gun violence in Rochester, as exemplified by what I was seeing in the Crescent, I wanted to make some portraits of gun aficionados. Like any journalist, I worked with my assistant to locate such people, and Shane was one of the people we located. I think his portrait, and even his reaction to it, add an interesting dimension to the story.
    >>

    I was the subject of such a picture in my life once, there were an Italian TV crew and a two British photographers. The British photographer (Steve Day, a friend of mine, now sadly passed away, and a very good photographer, I suggest you visit his site) captioned my image (from behind) as a poacher arrested by the police (I was there as an anti-pouching volunteer instead). That's legitimate as we were reconstructing an arrest by the police of a poacher. The photographer is never there when the real poacher is really arrested. That doesn't mean that all this posed pictures aren't legitimate as reportage.

    http://www.steveday.co.uk/travel/travel14.html

    A reportage is a photographic service around a story, a theme, a situation. A portrait is a portrait is a portrait.
    Last edited by Diapositivo; 02-24-2013 at 05:11 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
    Stock images at Imagebroker: http://www.imagebroker.com/#/search/ib_fbr

  10. #10
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    captioned my image (from behind) as a poacher arrested by the police (I was there as an anti-pouching volunteer instead). That's legitimate as we were reconstructing an arrest by the police of a poacher. The photographer is never there when the real poacher is really arrested. That doesn't mean that all this posed pictures aren't legitimate as reportage.

    [COLOR=#444444]http://www.steveday.co.uk/travel/travel14.html[/COLOR]

    A reportage is a photographic service around a story, a theme, a situation. A portrait is a portrait is a portrait.
    I don't think that photo is legitimate as it never happened. Re-creating a photo without mentioning it's a re-creation is not right. Legitimate newspapers fire photographers and reporters for doing this. They have strict rules against this.

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