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Author Topic: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?  (Read 4440 times)

GrahamBy

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #40 on: August 28, 2017, 05:16:23 AM »

Andrew, thank you for the excellent article.

I'll just come to the straw-man proposal. I've experienced two forms of this sort of ethics training.

The first was when working in a mathematics department, and it was regarding sexual harassment of students. One of my colleagues asked a particularly curly question: suppose a student broke into his office trying to steal an exam paper, and opening the lecturer's brief-case, encountered nude photos of his wife (taken with consent, implicitly). The thief is offended, and complains of harassment.

According to the instructor, s/he would have a case. The purpose of the course was simply legal, in order that the university could absolve itself of any responsibility by being able to say "we provided training by a recognised authority."

The second was by correspondence with the US NIH: this is a condition for obtaining grant funding. It is also essentially legal, but it involves demonstrating an understanding of the various rules and principles of ethical research (which sadly do not exclude data dredging, but that's off-topic).

So the first was useless because it gave no idea how to act, only that pretty much any action was potentially wrong. The second was much better, since even if the rules were somewhat arbitrary, it was clear what could and couldn't be done. Rather as one should not confuse what is just and what is legal, it avoided getting into arguments about what the researcher could justify as ethical in his/her own moral universe.

The question then is how does an ethical certification avoid the first situation, in the absence of clear principles that are essential to the second? Simply telling people that it's complex and they should be aware of the situation does seem to me very helpful... do we really believe that McCurry just hadn't realised he was creating a fantasy version of India?
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Farmer

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #41 on: August 28, 2017, 06:13:47 AM »


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

Meh, that's less than ideal :(  Hope you get some improvement.  Staying vaguely on topic - I bet experience and understand does help, though, because you know what it is and how to deal with it.  Otherwise unexplained pain can be, quite a pain...
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Phil Brown

Alan Goldhammer

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #42 on: August 28, 2017, 08:09:06 AM »

Documentary photography has been around since the dawn of the technology (and let's also not forget 'documentary painting').  The issue of what and how to photograph it are pretty much the sole province of the photographer though he/she may have received directions from the sponsor (e.g., newspaper or magazine).  The other side of the equation that I've not seen touched on is the role of the sponsor who selects an image(s) from what the photographer has captured for publication.  These are not the 'self-published' types as the Smith Minimata series.  Some of what gets published in indelible in our minds as with the well known pictures from the Vietnam war but a lot is just forgotten.

What are we to make of Edward Curtis's pictures of American Indians?  Are these ethical?  What about Diane Arbus's disturbing images (which I think are largely documentary)?  While I am sympathetic to what was proposed in the article, I don't think it will work particularly in these days of the Internet where it is so easy to "publish."
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Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #43 on: August 28, 2017, 11:15:56 AM »

Meh, that's less than ideal :(  Hope you get some improvement.  Staying vaguely on topic - I bet experience and understand does help, though, because you know what it is and how to deal with it.  Otherwise unexplained pain can be, quite a pain...

Now there I won't contradict. But it isn't my morals I'd have to question just the oh! so weak flesh! Morals are far more complicated beasts, and often vary according to what I consider to be situation ethics.

An example might be (clearly hypothetical):

1.  you're shooting a model somewhere quiet, and during a chance moment of close proximity you have the opportunity "accidently" to touch in some region that you should not be touching, in circumstances where it would not be clear whether you had chanced your arm or not. Do you do it or refrain?

2.  You are at a party and the booze or whatever they use these days is flowing - or better yet, has flowed - freely, and the same person is close to you again, as high as you might be, and you are faced with the same dilemma: to touch or not.

Now, in either case, if you opt to touch, is there a moral difference beyond a possible breach of "professional etiquette" in instance 1, and taking advantage of the effects of stimulants, assuming that olde playing fielde is level in instance 2, because you are both a bit the worse for wear?

In the second case, if you were cold sober then I'd look upon it as a bit of opportunism provided by both the ambience and the self-inflicted state of the other person, so would the touch be worthy of prosecution or simply be a case of 'what the hell did anyone expect at such a gathering?' and thus it's all right?

Rob
« Last Edit: August 28, 2017, 03:20:40 PM by Rob C »
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Rand47

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #44 on: August 28, 2017, 01:33:55 PM »


. . .

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.

Well said!  While I think that the "world" is going to hell in a hand-basket philosophically and in social reality - those of us in artistic pursuits can legitimately have our own compass (which I would argue appeals to the transcendent whether we even recognize that or not) to guide our efforts - and which make them immune to irrelevant criticism and allow the "smile."  Or, even to consider the criticism on its merits based on our own compass and not one being foisted from some "other" perspective.

Rand
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Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #45 on: August 28, 2017, 03:34:29 PM »

Well said!  While I think that the "world" is going to hell in a hand-basket philosophically and in social reality - those of us in artistic pursuits can legitimately have our own compass (which I would argue appeals to the transcendent whether we even recognize that or not) to guide our efforts - and which make them immune to irrelevant criticism and allow the "smile."  Or, even to consider the criticism on its merits based on our own compass and not one being foisted from some "other" perspective.

Rand


That would seem to depend on whether your artwork is intended for sale or simply as self-indulgence. If the former, then I think your compass has to point to where there's a non-hostile population, for otherwise, you are sailing onto a reef that'll rip the bottom out of your ship, and if you avoid that, you'll still end up in the cooking pot.

Perspectives - as in not soley one's own - do have a merit, but if the work to which they may be applied is simply for yourself, then I agree with you: dance to any old (or new) drum that turns you on.

Rob

Farmer

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #46 on: August 28, 2017, 06:22:52 PM »

so would the touch be worthy of prosecution or simply be a case of 'what the hell did anyone expect at such a gathering?' and thus it's all right?

Would you force someone to drink a coffee or cup of tea just because they're in a café or would you ask or offer or wait for them to ask?  Why do we ever think it's different when it comes to touching other people?
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Phil Brown

alainbriot

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #47 on: August 28, 2017, 06:40:02 PM »

Well said!  While I think that the "world" is going to hell in a hand-basket philosophically and in social reality - those of us in artistic pursuits can legitimately have our own compass (which I would argue appeals to the transcendent whether we even recognize that or not) to guide our efforts - and which make them immune to irrelevant criticism and allow the "smile."  Or, even to consider the criticism on its merits based on our own compass and not one being foisted from some "other" perspective.

Rand
Thank you Rand.  My approach has been shaped originally by selling my work and later by being active on social media.  In both instances criticism comes from any direction, informed or not, and one has to filter it or else decide that one's life wil be dedicated to trying to explain your work to people whose minds are made up and don't want to be bothered by the facts.

Interestingly this is the case whether the work is offensive or not.  Selling at the Grand Canyon and talking to millions of people over the years (the South Rim gets 5 million visitors a year) has taught me that even something as non-offensive as landscapes can generate extreme criticism.  Art is a polarized activity and this polarization comes out no matter what the subject is.  While the majority of people have the proper attitude some will come at you with a variety of 'excited motivations' to which the best response is to smile.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2017, 06:43:15 PM by alainbriot »
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Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
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Rand47

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #48 on: August 28, 2017, 07:11:40 PM »


That would seem to depend on whether your artwork is intended for sale or simply as self-indulgence. If the former, then I think your compass has to point to where there's a non-hostile population, for otherwise, you are sailing onto a reef that'll rip the bottom out of your ship, and if you avoid that, you'll still end up in the cooking pot.

Perspectives - as in not soley one's own - do have a merit, but if the work to which they may be applied is simply for yourself, then I agree with you: dance to any old (or new) drum that turns you on.

Rob

Rob,

Given your career and perspective re "photography for client," I don't disagree with you at all.  Well said.  My orientation is to photography as personal expression.

In Alain's case, people appreciate his work and purchase it, which is like frosting on the cake.  In my case, it is strictly for my own love of doing it.  Even my printing business is based on my love of the effort/process in making fine prints that express that the photographer wants. There's certainly no real money in it.  LOL  But, I'm able to do it "on my own terms."

Rand

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Dave (Isle of Skye)

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #49 on: August 28, 2017, 07:29:31 PM »

I am not sure if I am fully able to agree with you Andrew, even though I always enjoy reading whatever you write, as it is always thought provoking and well presented, but...

The problem as I see it, is that reality and any questions of morality associated with the truthfulness or otherwise of its representation, or even whether a particular subject should be photographed at all, is always only going to be limited by what we as individuals find acceptable or not. I don't think we can draw an agreed line of acceptability or apply a moral limitation on anything, other than what we as a society agree to have enforced on our behalf by the blunt and inflexible instrument of the law.

I also think what Alain is saying is more akin to what the majority of photographers think, that the world should not judge our work by how truthfully it represents reality, but rather by how much they enjoy looking at our artistic view of reality based on the inspiration it gives us.

Dave
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Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #50 on: August 29, 2017, 04:06:36 AM »

Would you force someone to drink a coffee or cup of tea just because they're in a café or would you ask or offer or wait for them to ask?  Why do we ever think it's different when it comes to touching other people?

C'mon, you know that's disingenuous rubbish or, worse, a thinly veiled insult to my intelligence.

In a café, minds are, one has to assume, unfrazzled by alcohol or drugs; the predator playground I described does not exist. If it does, then there's a good chance you must be in Amsterdam. Which obviously explains the canals.

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #51 on: August 29, 2017, 04:56:18 AM »

or even whether a particular subject should be photographed at all,

... and there the real question is, according to whom ? Whether something should be seen or hidden is a matter of opinion, just ask Edward Snowden.
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Farmer

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #52 on: August 29, 2017, 06:16:55 AM »

C'mon, you know that's disingenuous rubbish or, worse, a thinly veiled insult to my intelligence.

In a café, minds are, one has to assume, unfrazzled by alcohol or drugs; the predator playground I described does not exist. If it does, then there's a good chance you must be in Amsterdam. Which obviously explains the canals.

No, Rob.  That's the thing.  We all get to control the amount of whatever we put into our systems.  If we knowingly do that, it's not an excuse to do something that you couldn't/shouldn't do if you hadn't.  Does that means it never happens?  Of course not - quite the contrary - but it shouldn't.

Whenever we start a discussion by making excuses for certain behaviour, we're already acknowledging that the behaviour is unacceptable (else why would we be making excuses for it?).
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Phil Brown

Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #53 on: August 29, 2017, 07:02:27 AM »

No, Rob.  That's the thing.  We all get to control the amount of whatever we put into our systems.  If we knowingly do that, it's not an excuse to do something that you couldn't/shouldn't do if you hadn't.  Does that means it never happens?  Of course not - quite the contrary - but it shouldn't.

Whenever we start a discussion by making excuses for certain behaviour, we're already acknowledging that the behaviour is unacceptable (else why would we be making excuses for it?).

Almost unacceptable, in some circumstances, but not always. And therein the question marks. Yes, you are absolutely right that a defensive attitude indicates guilt - or does it? It could as easily reflect uncertainty because the weight/value of the deed depends largely on the reaction to it. If the person approached reacts positively you are home and dry, but should that person's reaction swing to the negative, for the same deed, where are you? It simply isn't possible to have wonderful rules when the field within which you hope to apply them remains fluid.

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #54 on: August 29, 2017, 08:19:33 AM »

Whenever we start a discussion by making excuses for certain behaviour, we're already acknowledging that the behaviour is unacceptable (else why would we be making excuses for it?).

Note that most discussions of nudity in art start out by trying to separate nudity from sex:
"No, it's not that I experience pleasant sensations looking at naked young women, they just happened to be the best symbolic representations of the four temperaments (or whatever)"

So sex is unacceptable?
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Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #55 on: August 29, 2017, 10:47:01 AM »

Note that most discussions of nudity in art start out by trying to separate nudity from sex:
"No, it's not that I experience pleasant sensations looking at naked young women, they just happened to be the best symbolic representations of the four temperaments (or whatever)"

So sex is unacceptable?


If she were 25 and I as I am today, yes!

Who, beyond a nutter, seeks humiliation?

But I jest; there's the old one about the guy with a tiny member going into a brothel and the woman he picks laughing:

"Who's that supposed to satisfy," she laughs.

"Me," says John.

So even there one can't be sure of anything.

Personally, if I'm claiming anything, I'm not claiming tiny, just a bit weary and somewhat jaded. But with a sciatica attack, it all becomes academic in the extreme.

;-)

Rob

farbschlurf

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #56 on: August 29, 2017, 01:58:50 PM »

I hesitated long whether to join the discussion, partly because I'm afraid my english isn't good enough to express my thoughts, so please be indulgent if something might sound awkwardly.

Basically I believe the process of how somebody gets an photo-journalist or -artist in this special field is part of the reason why we see, what we see. It seems so me, there're not only lessons about ethics missing, but in spite those people who are pushed or simply get the chance to study, are those who prove they have no problems crossing some ethic borders. If you apply at some school it's still a good way to get somewhere if you show something that is at least questionable in this respect. Basically it's about to show off with how tough you are. The tougher the better. Until it snaps of course (which is what also lead to this article, I guess).

The training you get, is even supporting this. You ought not be cowardly. Do it, take the shot. Remember the photo of the assassin of that Russian diplomat in Istanbul? Interesting discussion afterwards, also ... what I wanted to say is, that this is what they are get trained to. For sure this is pretty much the opposite of "ethical considerations". The whole process of selection and training is going in the other direction, in loosing them. It's rather about "Where is the next shock-photo?". Just for exposure. How can one really wonder sometimes it gets a bit too hot? Just look at the portfolios of those young and emerging photographers. It's so much about: "See, I dare this!"

(As a side note: I applied for a course many years ago and got told politely that I'm too much of a coward for this, because I worried how the people in front of the camera felt. Probably they were right. People accepted for the training were pushed to photograph people without their consent or in not very positive circumstances. Quite a bit of the training was about loosing inhibitions.)

I know this is not leading to a solution, and I do not have one. But I wanted to point out the existing structures are exactly the opposite of what is suggested and I don't think it's possible to just implement anything on top that is so contradictory.

(I hope it's possible to understand what I mean, for native speakers ...)
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Rob C

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #57 on: August 29, 2017, 05:42:40 PM »

Farbschlurf,

Your English is fine, and certainly more than good enough for the purposes of what we all have to say here.

I don't know anything about such educational institutions, but if they are as you describe, then I think they are doing the right thing by their students. Unlike those colleges that offer courses in photography that promote self-expression, art, the construction of installation dreams and flights of fantasy, these young people seem to be being shown how to make a living in today's world where the very lowest common denominator is what sells print and drives "Likes". It's all about earning a crust and survival, doing successfully what you have chosen as your job.

These students may end up being able to make a living out of the sick world in which we all, whether we realise what's going down all around us or not, have to live. There seems to be no good or bad anymore; everything goes and the more rude or offensive people act - or perhaps are - the more impact they make.

Just look at the music tv shows - if you can. In the days when music videos first appeared, there used to be a lot of visual imagination and even the music was listenable. I stopped watching intentionally some years ago when it became a constant stream of inter-racial sexual conquest promotion, with a massive lump of misogyny thrown in. I like women; I do not enjoy seeing them treated like scum, even if they allow themselves to look that way for the sake of a video. It was the same reason that made me stop buying Playboy after many years, when it, in my opinion, lost the plot and went into direct competition with the rubbish titles. So yeah, maybe we all do have that little man up there in our heads who whispers no, this ain't for you; get out now whilst you still can and know the differences.

Anyway, even if we are just talking to ourselves here, I find it more rewarding than telling some other guy how to reframe his pictures. At least this makes one think. Living alone can tend to make you want to give that up too, as yet just one more bother to face when you get up in the morning.

;-)

Rob

Farmer

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #58 on: August 29, 2017, 08:07:09 PM »

Note that most discussions of nudity in art start out by trying to separate nudity from sex:
"No, it's not that I experience pleasant sensations looking at naked young women, they just happened to be the best symbolic representations of the four temperaments (or whatever)"

So sex is unacceptable?

Not really an ideal analogy, unless you're talking about forcing it on someone.  If you want to get a model who is of age and willingly consents to modelling and if the viewers of your art are of age and willingly consenting to viewing, there's no issue.  We're talking about deliberately doing something without first obtaining consent in the potential hope that it might lead to something else.  If that's the best form of communication you have, you have a problem.

There are so many ways to signal an intent and receive confirmation, quite apart from the direct conversation which may seem too difficult, that it's just not acceptable to ever force it on anyone.  This isn't a difficult concept.
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Phil Brown

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Re: New Article - Ethical Photography: Where Do We Go From Here?
« Reply #59 on: August 29, 2017, 08:08:23 PM »

Almost unacceptable, in some circumstances, but not always. And therein the question marks. Yes, you are absolutely right that a defensive attitude indicates guilt - or does it? It could as easily reflect uncertainty because the weight/value of the deed depends largely on the reaction to it. If the person approached reacts positively you are home and dry, but should that person's reaction swing to the negative, for the same deed, where are you? It simply isn't possible to have wonderful rules when the field within which you hope to apply them remains fluid.

Signal your intent.  Directly ask.  Make it clear but don't do anything until you have affirmation.  Simple.
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Phil Brown
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