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Author Topic: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?  (Read 6722 times)

OmerV

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2017, 11:54:37 AM »

Omer, I realize that your presence on LuLa's forums is now entirely devoted to attacking my front page pieces, so replying to you is likely fruitless. Still, allow me to quote from the first paragraph of my recent piece:

"We’re seeing a lot of commentaries triggered by the Souvid Datta episode, where he is accused of both photographing unethically, and of passing off collaged and plagiarized material as his own."

There are two issues with Datta, one is plagiarism, and the other is working in an unethical fashion. I am frankly uninterested in the first.

While it's clear that you disagree with my piece, and with everything else I write, simply saying "No, ethics is easy you are wrong" isn't really a reply, it's just an opinion.

Andrew, you flatter yourself. Secondly, I'm not attacking, just correcting, though obviously we disagree on what "correcting" means. However, since you've appointed yourself as the lance in what I can only describe as a fatuous and quixotic crusade to purge the photography community of "evil" (your word,) or at least to unmask that evil which you believe is skulking deep in the bowels of the photography universe, I guess addressing you directly seems appropriate.

"Evil" is a serious word that should be reserved for the likes of the Iraqi commanders who ordered the gas attack on village of Halabja. Using it to describe greediness within a photography contest is ridiculous. Your hyperbole only serves to point out your juvenile and misguided effort. If you want to do something worthwhile, surely there must be something more important than pointing out, again, Steve McCurry's missteps.

amolitor

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2017, 12:48:38 PM »

Well, Omer, anyone can look at your posting history here and draw their own conclusions.

Given that you've completely misread, as far as I can tell, my usage of the word "evil" in this thread, I find it difficult to take your attempts to correct me very seriously. I am specifically arguing against characterizations like "evil" for people like Souvid Datta and Steve McCurry. Perhaps you mean my usage of the word somewhere else at another time, I suppose, which would not be the first time you have made such vague allusions.

I feel no need to get into  a pissing match with you, let these remarks stand as my last words on the subject. I shan't be replying to any further remarks you may choose to make, but of course, you should feel free to carry on.
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OmerV

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2017, 01:47:47 PM »

Well, Omer, anyone can look at your posting history here and draw their own conclusions.

Given that you've completely misread, as far as I can tell, my usage of the word "evil" in this thread, I find it difficult to take your attempts to correct me very seriously. I am specifically arguing against characterizations like "evil" for people like Souvid Datta and Steve McCurry. Perhaps you mean my usage of the word somewhere else at another time, I suppose, which would not be the first time you have made such vague allusions.

I feel no need to get into  a pissing match with you, let these remarks stand as my last words on the subject. I shan't be replying to any further remarks you may choose to make, but of course, you should feel free to carry on.

Yes, I did misread the “evil” reference. I apologize for that.

Rand47

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2017, 01:04:14 AM »

Ladies and Gentlemen...

This whole issue/situation hardly limits itself to photography.  The 2016 Oxford Dictionary "word of the year" is "post-truth."

Postmodern philosophy, and post-postmodern philosophy reduces societal life to competing meta narratives, none of which are "true" but merely utilitarian struggles for power and dominance.

Basically, "my story can beat up your story."  And with the loss of consensus on morals, leaving everything both relative and an exercise in personal preference, I hope no one is holding their breath waiting for a resurgence of honor and ethics in any public pursuit.

Rand
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 01:14:29 AM by Rand47 »
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Rand Scott Adams

alainbriot

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2017, 02:34:07 AM »

Ladies and Gentlemen...

This whole issue/situation hardly limits itself to photography.  The 2016 Oxford Dictionary "word of the year" is "post-truth."

Postmodern philosophy, and post-postmodern philosophy reduces societal life to competing meta narratives, none of which are "true" but merely utilitarian struggles for power and dominance.

Basically, "my story can beat up your story."  And with the loss of consensus on morals, leaving everything both relative and an exercise in personal preference, I hope no one is holding their breath waiting for a resurgence of honor and ethics in any public pursuit.

Rand

Competing narratives and diverging reality make creating an exercise in expected criticism which in turn reduces criticism's impact, at least for me.
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Alain Briot
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dchew

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2017, 07:22:40 AM »

Andrew,
Thank you for taking the time on what I think is a well-though and well-written article.

I don't understand this statement:
"The photographer on the ground is being asked, essentially, to make ferociously complicated choices that do not have clear answers, on the fly."

While it applies to the act of taking the photo, I don't see how it applies to publishing the photo. I bet we all have photos in our boxes of slides that, in our own judgement, should not be shared to the public for ethical reasons. We took the photo "on the fly" but sometime later realized it should not be shared. It seems to me there is plenty of time to evaluate ethical issues prior to publishing.

Or are you saying the act of taking what is viewed as an "unethical" photo is itself unethical, regardless of whether the photographer chooses to publish?

As for doctoring an ethical photo into an unethical photo, I would argue the same: that is not done "on the fly," at least in your examples.

Dave
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OmerV

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2017, 10:27:39 AM »

Ladies and Gentlemen...

This whole issue/situation hardly limits itself to photography.  The 2016 Oxford Dictionary "word of the year" is "post-truth."

Postmodern philosophy, and post-postmodern philosophy reduces societal life to competing meta narratives, none of which are "true" but merely utilitarian struggles for power and dominance.

Basically, "my story can beat up your story."  And with the loss of consensus on morals, leaving everything both relative and an exercise in personal preference, I hope no one is holding their breath waiting for a resurgence of honor and ethics in any public pursuit.

Rand

Remember the phrase "I know it when I see it?" Ethics and morals have long been a gray area, but for the most part have been kept within the "envelope" for the allowance of communal civility, either by religion, opportunism or basic survival. Undoubtedly it is more complicated but persecution, in whatever flavor you choose, stems from fear of the unknown. I'm not a nihilist or anarchist, but I well understand that what Americans have long believed were morals and ethics benefited white anglo-saxon protestant men almost exclusively. Me included. The apprehension in regards towards the seeming break up of order in photography is nostalgic hand wringing. What does trouble me is the call to order that has actually reached the ACLU, meaning a new, narrower (or wider, depending on the slant,) interpretation of the First Amendment is beginning to take shape.

amolitor

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2017, 12:01:08 PM »

Good questions, Dave!

There is definitely a school of thought that says certain photographs should not even be shot, and the logic is generally that the situation being documented is so deplorable that the photographer should put down the camera and intervene. I'm not sure where I stand on that issue, personally.

Regardless of that, it still partakes of the same problems "fixing it in post" always does, you could have been shooting something else, you could have taken a better picture instead of that one, and there's always the possibility of error, permitting the "unfixed" portfolio to escape too far.

Either way, though, some better grounding in ethics helps, both in the shooting and in the (submitting for) publication.

Just so we're further clear: I don't mean a grounding in ethics in the sense of taking several semesters of Philosophy. I'm imagining more of a corporate ethics training slide deck, which basically looks like:

Sue is shooting a soap box derby event when a firetruck crashes through the crowd, crushing a small child
Does Sue  1) photograph the dead child 2) photograph the truck 3) drop her camera to assist?

with ensuing discussion  of the various options. Repeat for another dozen scenarios, with intervening relevant instruction text. The idea is not to Teach People Ethics, really, but to get them thinking about ethics, and to familiarize them with what accepted standards are for situations they might find themselves in.
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Rand47

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2017, 12:35:11 PM »

Competing narratives and diverging reality make creating an exercise in expected criticism which in turn reduces criticism's impact, at least for me.

Sure thing.  When nothing is objectively (or even by consensus) good or bad, art or junk, one can live in any world of one's own choosing and think little of anyone else's "truth."  Fortunately, most people can't live consistently in post-modern nonsense (even if they hold it philosophically), and they will recognize something intrinsically good (like your work, for instance) and appreciate it.

Rand
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Rand Scott Adams

Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2017, 12:44:10 PM »

But you are still, basically, depending on moral standards and standings.

My instinct says don't shoot the questionable image. Why would you, unless for the hope of making money out of something a bit heavy for normal consumption? The call on what the snapper thinks normal is his own to make, not that of any group or collective conditioning. He is already collectively conditioned to one degree or another; applying a prescribed set of trade moral concepts is even worse and ultimately more confusing for anyone.

You can't honestly submit stuff you are secretly ashamed of having shot, yet allow the final publishing decision rest with someone else. That's responsibilty-dodging in a most depressing manner, cowardice, even.

If instinct tells you there's a big question mark hanging over your actions, don't take 'em. If instinct tells you nothing, this thread will mean zero to you, so it's academic.

Rand47

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2017, 12:51:25 PM »

Remember the phrase "I know it when I see it?" Ethics and morals have long been a gray area, but for the most part have been kept within the "envelope" for the allowance of communal civility, either by religion, opportunism or basic survival. Undoubtedly it is more complicated but persecution, in whatever flavor you choose, stems from fear of the unknown. I'm not a nihilist or anarchist, but I well understand that what Americans have long believed were morals and ethics benefited white anglo-saxon protestant men almost exclusively. Me included. The apprehension in regards towards the seeming break up of order in photography is nostalgic hand wringing. What does trouble me is the call to order that has actually reached the ACLU, meaning a new, narrower (or wider, depending on the slant,) interpretation of the First Amendment is beginning to take shape.

Yup... pretty much.  The interesting thing about the American experiment is that while what you say above is largely true, it isn't "all of the truth."  There was/is enough aspirational language in the founding documents and thinking of those white males, "all men are created equal and endowed by their creator" - that kind of language - which became a springboard for broadening what may well have been a more narrow sense of it into something more, and more inclusive and more just.  But, as you rightly say, we're breaking new ground as we suffer from the loss of any consensus, or even the notion that there might be such a thing as consensus based in appeal to any sort of transcendent values. 

If my understanding of history is any indication, we're in for some "interesting times," and headed toward one sort of totalitarianism or another.  The particular flavor won't matter much, I don't think.  Any of the flavors available are toxic to liberty.  I think there will, perhaps, be a "middle phase" where western affluence and military might will provide a buffer from the real world outside the west for a while.  But even that seems to be fading more quickly than I would have anticipated twenty or so years ago.

Rand
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alainbriot

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2017, 01:15:44 PM »

Sure thing.  When nothing is objectively (or even by consensus) good or bad, art or junk, one can live in any world of one's own choosing and think little of anyone else's "truth."  Fortunately, most people can't live consistently in post-modern nonsense (even if they hold it philosophically), and they will recognize something intrinsically good (like your work, for instance) and appreciate it.

Rand

Thank you Rand.  Postmodernism has both positive and negative aspects.  It is certainly a challenging world to live in, although its fun aspect encourages one to pursue. 

For me, and in regards to this discussion, a seminal moment was Roland Barthes' statement that 'today's society practices divided disources and makes use of different languages that do not coordinate well.' (La société actuelle pratique des discours divisés, utilise des langages très different qui ne communiquent pas bien.), in an audio interview by Jacques Chancel   --Radioscopie-- in 1975 I believe.

The presence of these divided discourses means that one cannot be accountable to all of them.  While some are relevant to our work, others are not.  Deciding which ones are and are not is up to us.  Paying attention to who is talking (or writing, photographing, etc.) is therefore primordial. It certainly reduces the relative importance of criticism.  What matters is criticism relevant to our discourse, not criticism per se.  A lot can be answered with a smile because it is simply irrelevant.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 04:11:26 PM by alainbriot »
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Alain Briot
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Farmer

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2017, 10:28:34 PM »

Sue is shooting a soap box derby event when a firetruck crashes through the crowd, crushing a small child
Does Sue  1) photograph the dead child 2) photograph the truck 3) drop her camera to assist?

If Sue works for someone and that someone (be it a person or entity) has provided guidelines, Sue should follow those guidelines if applicable.

If the guidelines are not applicable or if Sue is working (or not working, as the case may be for an amateur) for herself, then "any of the above" are reasonable and acceptable depending upon which ethical lens you decide to view the situation.  If Sue wants to be ethical in the case of making her own choice, she should try to maintain consistency with previous ethical decisions in terms of the appropriate lens, but it's also possible that she might view the situation as substantially different to anything she's encountered before and therefore requires a different view (or the incident and the choices themselves cause a change in view/lens for Sue).

Of course, she could so all 3 or a combination of any 2, just doing each to a lesser degree than if done exclusively.

There's a scene in the movie We Were Soldiers in which a journalist is declining a weapon being offered by the veteran sergeant who has issue a general order to "defend yourselves" as the company faces being overrun - he says he's a "non combatant" and the sergeant's response is something like "no such thing today".

Very few people actually effectively believe in an absolute morality or a permanently consistent ethical lens.  We adapt to circumstance, driven by all sorts of things from imagine to ego to survival and others.  The best you can really hope for is to be comfortable with your decisions after you make them, understanding all the factors that drive them (and so not beating yourself up too much).

As you say, it's about trying to teach people that there are choices and that dilemmas exist and sometimes you need to follow guidance and other times it's up to you - and that all choices have consequences, intended or otherwise.
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Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2017, 05:38:03 AM »

"Sue is shooting a soap box derby event when a firetruck crashes through the crowd, crushing a small child
Does Sue  1) photograph the dead child 2) photograph the truck 3) drop her camera to assist?"



Hypotheticals mean little. I'll give you an example: there's an annual event here where the folks go to the Formentor peninsula, chop down the straightest, tallest pine they can spot, get it into the sea and then tow it across the bay to the Port of Pollensa. The intention is to erect it in the square, shaved, and have people attempt to reach the top. One year, my wife and I were watching the trunk being taken from the beach, through a gap in the low wall separating beach from the pedestrianised walk area (disaster, but that's something else). There was the usual crush of watching crowd, kids at the front, excited parents behind them.

As the log itself was about to be dragged through the gap, the rope attached to it and being tugged by the team on the walkway, was running across the vertical edge of the low wall and at an angle of about sixty degrees. As the team stopped pulling, the rope went slack, and a child put its body up against that edge to get a better view, just as the rope was being taken up and tightened again. I stood there, frozen, watching a disaster about to unfold, a child crushed to death between a wall and a heavy rope. Fortunately, others were more reactive and screamed at the haulers to stop, and the kid was safe. That they could make their warning cries heard above the din of cheering was a minor miracle of its own.

Moral: if your Sue had my reactions, she'd do none of your suggested alternatives. There lies the folly of unreal situation planning. I'd always thought myself pretty quick to react to things. I was wrong.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2017, 05:45:41 AM by Rob C »
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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2017, 05:51:56 AM »

The point of the exercise, Rob, is not to debate the physical prowess or capability of Sue (we could just as well debate whether she had the technical capacity to take a reasonable photograph).  The exercise is an intellectual one designed to demonstrate multiple options when most people will say there is only one based on their own, current, ethical lens (even if they don't realise they have one).

Hypotheticals are how you learn there's more to something than at first meets your eye.  You can't literally put people into such dilemmas for them to experience, so you lead them through these mental exercises instead.

Yes, Sue might freeze and do nothing, but in so doing she's not required to make a decision, to apply an ethical lens, or to test her own moral understanding and beliefs and so there's no point.  The question isn't whether or not someone is capable of making a choice in a given scenario - it's that, assuming they can, do they understand the options, implications, and broader context of a dilemma?
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Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2017, 08:57:02 AM »

The point of the exercise, Rob, is not to debate the physical prowess or capability of Sue (we could just as well debate whether she had the technical capacity to take a reasonable photograph).  The exercise is an intellectual one designed to demonstrate multiple options when most people will say there is only one based on their own, current, ethical lens (even if they don't realise they have one).

Hypotheticals are how you learn there's more to something than at first meets your eye.  You can't literally put people into such dilemmas for them to experience, so you lead them through these mental exercises instead.

Yes, Sue might freeze and do nothing, but in so doing she's not required to make a decision, to apply an ethical lens, or to test her own moral understanding and beliefs and so there's no point.  The question isn't whether or not someone is capable of making a choice in a given scenario - it's that, assuming they can, do they understand the options, implications, and broader context of a dilemma?

Clearly so, but it doesn't remove the huge flaw present in such debates that slide ever more into the realms of the absurd when folks seek to put ideas forward while endowing them with more worth than they ever really have, if only, and when, these notions lack any clear way of coming to definitive conclusions, one way or the other.

If you go back to the original proposition, you see that it's always going to remain within the remit of unpredictable human reaction and morality, both imponderables with no chance of allowing a clear resolution or conclusion beyond the individual's choice at that moment, which may or may not be the same on another day. In other words, it's just a little bit of entertainment with which to pass the time when there's nothing else to do. But taken so seriously...

Anyway, whether or not people understand the implications within a moment of critical decision is no guarantee of a good choice. As the old Scots saying goes: a standing cock has no conscience.

So much for hoping that carefully considered logic will save anyone from moments of risk!

Understanding the idea behind a topic is not to imply that it automatically brings with it some chance of arriving at a broader, ethical resolution to the general conduct of people within the publishing industries, which I think is what we may be on about here. Hollywood had to contend with the Hayes (?) Office, and Playboy was constantly taken to task by several Leagues of Decency and hell knows what other, self-appointed and broadly too powerful pressure groups whose actions affected many people not of the same spiritual persuasions. Just like today's problems, then, but perhaps without beheadings.

amolitor

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2017, 10:14:52 AM »

My example with Sue was twice over hypothetical, being a hypothetical example of the sort of hypothetical case one finds in training materials, and should not be taken seriously since I threw it together in 10 seconds to illustrate the general flavor of the thing.

Ethics training, as far as this goes, is a solved problem. It does not make people into philosophers, or saints. In the case of the training I received at HP annually, mainly what it did was remind me that bribes can sometimes be a bit subtle, and what kinds of things the company considered to be sexual harassment.

None of it was rocket science, it was all, in a way, obvious. But the point is to remind us of those obvious things that, in the moment, we might lose track of.

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Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2017, 10:45:24 AM »

My example with Sue was twice over hypothetical, being a hypothetical example of the sort of hypothetical case one finds in training materials, and should not be taken seriously since I threw it together in 10 seconds to illustrate the general flavor of the thing.

Ethics training, as far as this goes, is a solved problem. It does not make people into philosophers, or saints. In the case of the training I received at HP annually, mainly what it did was remind me that bribes can sometimes be a bit subtle, and what kinds of things the company considered to be sexual harassment.

None of it was rocket science, it was all, in a way, obvious. But the point is to remind us of those obvious things that, in the moment, we might lose track of.

;-)

Rob

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2017, 06:05:38 PM »

In short, Rob, whilst broader and deeper understanding of subjects does not guarantee a better result, it does tend to help.
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Phil Brown

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #39 on: August 28, 2017, 04:39:04 AM »

In short, Rob, whilst broader and deeper understanding of subjects does not guarantee a better result, it does tend to help.


This afternoon I have to return to the hospital for a further eye examination. I was also hit by another dose of sciatica three days ago, and will have to hobble from the car to the eye-department walking at a body angle of perhaps seventy-five painful degrees.

I have had this quite often - since my twenties, in fact - and have also suffered from eye problems for at least about five years.

I have a fairly deep understanding of both conditions, and I can assure you, it doesn't help, not one friggin' jot!

But then again, those ain't hypothetical. Hypos are like art: they may or they may not be.

;-)

Rob
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