Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/09/14

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: Re: [Leica] Re:E. Adams & Vietnam Photo
From: Frank Conley <>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 11:35:57 -0700 (PDT)

Ethics in news photography is of an order of importance that most
journalists miss, and is one of the reasons I am opposed to digital
manipulation of documentary or news photos. My disillusionment with the
news business came while I was at The Tennessean and saw at least two
of my pictures flipped for better page composition (i.e. they wanted a
person facing to the left instead of to the right, and would use the
mirror of the image). This type of activity undermines the credibility
inherent in a photograph. We use photographs to convey information
because a photo is supposed to be an objective representation of a
scene. There is plenty enough manipulation in the subject matter,
timing, and play of the photo. There does need to be additional
undermining of the photo's integrity with the frequent and unconsidered
manipulation of pictures. 

Art photos should be designated art photos. Someone on this list
discussed the advantages of masking using Photoshop, which let him
brighten up the colors of a flower. While that may be a nice technique
for an art photo, it has no place in a news photograph whatsoever. The
world is often ugly and news or documentary photographs should show
that ugliness. When we begin to "clean up" images or add to the
sharpness or snappiness of a scene, we risk losing all credibility.
Because I know of the ease of manipulation of photographs (see the
National Geographic cover with the relocated pyramids) I look at modern
photographs with a heavy dose of salt. With easy manipulation tools
many photographers have lost sight of the importance of content and
accuracy. Rather than throw away a picture because it just didn't work
right, they save it in the digital darkroom. It's a quick fix that has
cost photojournalism much of the credibility it once had.

- --Frank

- --- Harrison McClary <> wrote:
> On 9/14/99 8:46 AM wrote
> >Second of all, doesn't this question (which is why
> I'm probably reacting to 
> >it in such a manner) call into question Eddie
> Adams' integrity? He said it, 
> >he won a Pulitzer. It's his picture. Period.
> Ninety-nine percent of the 
> >photojournalists out there working on that level
> are trustworthy on such a 
> >topic.
> >
> >Or for that matter the credibility, and competence,
> of editors at AP and 
> >the Pulitzer judges?
> Good point Eric....I have been thinkiing the same
> thing but have gotten 
> tired of arguing constantly with people who think we
> are all unethical 
> SOBs....most news photographers have  very strong
> ethical convictions 
> concerning their work.
> On a different note I was talking to a very good
> friend of mine in 
> Houston (he is also a photographer) just a few
> minutes ago and he 
> mentioned that his assistant worked with Eddie Adams
> last week.  Said his 
> assistant was a little dissapointed as most "big
> name" photographers 
> travel with a big entorge and a big set up of
> lights....Eddie showed up 
> just himself, one case of lights and one case for
> camera gear...travels 
> very light.  Said he was a supper nice fellow and
> good to work with.
> Harrison McClary
> email:
> preview my book:

Do You Yahoo!?
Bid and sell for free at