I worked for several years as a photojournalist early in my career and took some pretty disturbing photographs that to this day are hard for me to wrap my mind around. One inparticular was of a fire victim that ran quite large on the front page. I had argued against this in a staff meeting, but the editors went ahead with it using this rationale. The victim was smoking in bed and the editors said that one image may prevent others from making the same mistake. It still did not make me feel any better about the fact that family members were going to be exposed to this image as well. Adding to my anguish over the photo, it also won an award for the paper I was shooting. It bothers me to this day and was a major factor in my going in a different career direction with my photography.
Originally Posted by catem
That's a thought-provoking post, Bill.
Originally Posted by billschwab
I think I should clarify what I meant by my own post though as I realise it could be read both ways.
What I meant was, I believe I would have no hesitation in that situation about putting down my camera and doing something to help if I thought I could - and I've heard Don McCullin say this about his own role as a photographer in war zones, and also (if I remember rightly) James Natchwey. Not that I think I would behave in such a way - who knows how I would actually behave, I may well run away - but I'm sure if the choice were between doing something if it were possible and taking photographs, I would choose the first.
Originally Posted by catem
I understand completely. I too have done this many times. Mostly with car wrecks. Because I used to monitor the scanner for spot news events, I was first on the scene more times than I care to admit. I've aided and comforted several to the best of my ability given the situation and even left my gear in the middle of a huge chain reaction to aid fireman in carrying stretchers over mangled vehicles. It was not a job for the faint hearted, that is for certain. I have the utmost respect for those that do it well. I realized though that it was not for me.
Originally Posted by catem
I believe we all have that moral Issue withen each of us, that at any given moment we could be witness to a Happening It does not matter what type, then and Only then we will have to make that choice of weather we fotograph whats happening![ Shooting a person about to be hit by a train is one thing and then another to shoot the remains splatered all of the place unless it your Job: But then there are those who relish such things: Too Each His Own:
When one's life Ends, then one becomes Life's history !
that was what i was wondering, if tribal rules and regulation forbid people
Originally Posted by Jim_in_Kyiv
from making photographs. as distasteful as the images could have been,
we, as bjorke stated earlier, don't really know what or why the passenger
wanted to photograph.
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I really don't know why the guy wanted the photo, I believe he was probably wanting to show relatives and friends vacation sights. He had a little p&s digital. I usually say nothing of this sort, it just kind of blurted out of me. Many of you know I get pretty mad about authorities harassing photographers. I'm almost beligerant about it in normal situations. Still, in this situation it all seemed so different. Yesterday was kind of weird, the whole day didn't seem normal at all after 10:30 AM.
In retrospect I should have kept my mouth shut. I had no authority over this man, nor was it really any of my business. Maybe it was the look on the faces of the tribal officials directly outside our train car. Maybe I was just trying to avoid them coming inside and making an issue about this guy.
This thread and Bill Schwab's comments made me think of not only the ethics of taking a photo, but consideration of what the image might lead to if published.
Recently on the NPR radio program Fresh Aire, host Terri Gross interviewed the photojournalist who took the famous photo of corpse of a US Marine being dragged and beaten in the streets of Somalia in 1993. He said he was haunted by the photo, for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was the firestorm it created, leading to the withdrawl of American troops in that country. The reaction to that photo he had been told was one of the contributing factors in the decision of the Clinton administration to not send troops to Rawanda to help end the genocide that eventually killed over 700,000 people. So in part he felt he played a role in that decision.
I also found it interesting that he felt that any one who continually goes to war zones (including himself) to photograph is mentally defective in someway.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
I fail to understand why anyone would care if another chose to take photos when they chose not to do so.
Some of the most telling photos of the attack on the WTC were taken by folks who were "bystanders". In fact, the pictorial record of that atrocity would be much sparser and less poignant if it were bereft of the shots taken by folks who were simply amateurs who happened to be nearby.
No one warned/advised the media to have there cameras "at the ready" that day. In fact, it was only a couple of years after 9/11/01 that someone "discovered' that there was one picture available of the first plane hitting 1 WTC.
Besides, I don't think it is the perogative of anyone (like n5cp) to "tell" anyone what they should or should not shoot. If official law enforcement were involved in constraining the taking of the photos; that MIGHT be a different situation - but why would the "sensibilities" of YOU determine what I might do?
[Note: I guess, once again here, I find myself in the near lone minority of defending individual rights against the "consensus of the majority" - but so be it - it goes with the territory.]
Speaking of different cutltures, I might have to add this:
Originally Posted by jnanian
In the case of Japan, for the last 5, 6 years, we have about 30,000 suicide deaths as the average each year, and some of them are always train-hit incidents. People jump on the train tracks and/or directly to the running trains when they choose to die in despair.
So, when you are on a train (subway train, local train, bullet train, etc) somewhere the train stops suddenly, you hear the announcement that it has stopped because "someone got in the traintrack" or whatever, the chances are, that it is likely the scene of attempted suicide.
To take photos of this, you really have to have a reason to because the suicide is a daily (or weekly or monthly, depending on the news report) occurence and not a surprising event, and if you still have a bit of sanity left, you probably want to pray or something instead.
Different set of circumstances, but ...
Today a certain hate group staged a demonstration in front of a local foreign consulate office. Yes, it crossed my mind that it might be a street photo op, but I figured it's best to give the creeps as little attention as can be possible.
I think such things are a great opportunity to not attend and to not take pictures.