Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Photography Ethics

Photography Ethics
In the practice of photography, ethical issues tend to arise over the nature of creativity, representation, ownership, profit and service.and exacerbated by cultural preferences or political ideology, and individual personality and ambition.

Objectives of The National Press Photographers Association

Visual journalists operate as trustees of the public. Visual journalists have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its history through images.Visual Journalists primary role is to report visually on the significant events and varied viewpoints  and  the faithful and comprehensive depiction of the subject at hand. 

Photographic and video images can reveal great truths, expose wrongdoing and neglect, inspire hope and understanding and connect people around the globe through the language of visual understanding. Photographs can also cause great harm if they are  manipulated.

The National Press Photographers Association, a professional society that promotes the highest standards in visual journalism, acknowledges concern for every person's need both to be fully informed about public events and to be recognized as part of the world in which we live.

This code is intended to promote the highest quality in all forms of visual journalism and to strengthen public confidence in the profession. 

 Code of Ethics.
Ethics are principles reflecting the values of a society
Visual journalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards in their daily work:
1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.

2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.

3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. 

4. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy.

5. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one's own biases in the work.

6. While photographing subjects do not intentionally to alter, or seek to alter or influence events.

7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.

8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.

9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

There are at least five ethical features of a journalistic photograph:
1. The ethic of the theme;
2. The ethic of the view;
3. The ethic of the medium;
4. The ethic of the edit; and
5. The ethic of the caption.

1. Ethic of the theme
There can be no photograph without a theme. The theme or meaning of a photograph is coded by signs: iconic, indexical( refers to the physical relationship between the object photographed and the resulting image) or symbolic. For an instance of ethical photojournalism: the media published the photograph of an ‘unknown person’ pleading for his life in 2002 . That image, both beautiful and true, became the symbol of the infamous Godhra riots. It appears that a symbolic treatment of violence is best in photojournalism.

2. Ethic of the view
Taking news photographs is part of a photojournalist’s job. So news photographers never violate a subject’s right to privacy.Children accused of some crime, rape victims and victims of violence should not to be photographed. .

Ethical issues are also involved in angles of view. A camera’s viewpoint can evoke feelings of superiority or inferiority. These angles of view and their attached significance only indicate that the camera is not a neutral medium..

3. Ethic of the medium

 There are two types of image: pessimistic and optimistic. Photojournalists should attempt to capture images, pessimistic or optimistic, in their proper context. The camera has the power to alter, even rupture, the context because of the bias inherent in every medium. 

The distance between the camera and the subject also has implications. By using powerful zoom lens, the news photographer may make it appear that he was at the spot of an event when he really was a mile or two away.The use of wide-angle and telephoto lens gives a distorted picture of reality. The fields of view — extreme long shot, long shot, medium shot, close-up and extreme close-up — also pose ethical problems.
For example, an extreme close-up shot would eliminate the background of the subject, which may be essential for the interpretation of that picture.

4. Ethic of the edit

 the photographs were retouched to enhance the beauty or impact.  A photograph in the Madurai edition of The Hindu created a minor controversy . The photograph was that of a pigeon in a pool of rainwater. The newspaper, had only changed the brightness or contrast to suit the printing requirements. A reader argued that any alteration of a photograph was creating a fake.
Newspapers and magazines resort to simple cropping and make colour balance adjustments. There is nothing unethical in editing photographs. some pictures could be improved by cropping out a distracting element at the top or side, or perhaps by changing the shape of the picture altogether by having a selective enlargement made of just part of the image.”  Manipulation of a news photograph to deceive the audience is indeed unethical. Computer technology makes it possible for photographers and photo editors to morph an image of reality into something surreal. But in the journalistic context, every photograph has to communicate through the absence of manipulation 

Photographer Brian Walski was fired from his position at the Los Angeles Times after it was discovered that two news photographs of a gun-toting soldier had been combined to create a more intense photo. When later asked why he had digitally manipulated the photo and risked his career Walski replied: “I knew what I was doing. It looked good. It looked better than what I had, 

5. Ethic of the caption
A news photograph  requires a caption to explain the 5Ws and 1H (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How). It usually consists of two sentences: the first in the present tense; and the second, in the past. The caption must provide information that may not be evident in the photograph . The ethic of the caption demands that the caption must locate the photograph in its proper context. A caption should never misinterpret an image.

Disrupting An Animal’s Habitat

Wildlife photography needs to be conducted with elegance and grace. It requires an inhuman amount of patience that very few people possess. It is right to become a non-invasive part of an animal’s surroundings in an attempt to get closer, but not intentionally disrupt that animal’s day-to-day life by trying to get a photo.