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Photography Ethics, Reliability, and Principles Essay

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Updated: Aug 15th, 2020

When a photographer needs to choose between making a good or striking photo and helping people in danger, it is important to stay a person and a protector of human rights and try to help those people. Following the ideas of Paula Gortazar, it is possible to state that a photographer should not violate the norms of morality in order to make a good or esthetically effective shot (Gortazar par. 6). The article published in The Guardian presents the opinions of photographers who made ethically controversial shots representing violence.

According to the photographers’ words, they often feel guilty when they choose to take a picture instead of helping a struggling man (“The Bystanders”). In this context, it is important to state that photographers should always put the man’s life and safety as the priority, and they should avoid taking pictures if a man’s life in danger. Thus, it is important to act ethically in those situations when the esthetical nature of the shot is rather questioned because of the context of the situation.

From this point, is a photographer who sees everyone suffering from violence, it is important to take actions in order to help a person because there are many other ways to take striking pictures. However, while referring to a photographer as a reporter of real-life situations, it is significant to determine the border of the professional’s responsibility strictly. Nevertheless, a photographer should act ethically and according to the norms of morality that are followed in the society.

Modern technologies in the sphere of photography allow the real-life representations of military conflicts important to be discussed in the news. However, the problem is in the fact that shocking images provided by photographers working for the media agencies and by stringers are not always reliable or true. In his article, Munro focuses on the issues of reliability of the photographs made in the context of military conflicts. The author states that the public has a chance to see reliable photographs in daily newspapers only when the photo editors can do their job effectively, but there are many barriers. Thus, one of the barriers is wartime conditions that prevent photo editors from verifying the photograph’s reliability (Munro par. 10).

It is important to check captions for photos, pay attention to photos that seem to be staged, focus on manipulated images, and use of software in order to make the photo more appealing or absolutely untrue. The other problem is the impossibility of sending western photographers to the war zones and the need to work with stringers from locals. There are often two versions of the observed event, and the factor of money is also important to influence the reliability of final received images. Therefore, the images of conflict are often far from reality.

Moreover, photographs provided in daily news are often non-reliable because of the active manipulation of colors, tone, and even content elements. Courson notes that the use of photo software tools increases annually, and modern photos proposed to media agencies are often highly manipulated (Courson par. 12). Although the problem of photos’ reliability is acute, not all news photography should be discussed as unreliable because photo editors work to provide the public with the most trustworthy images and to set the border between the artistic vision of the photographer and the provision of faked photographs. As a result, it is often possible to guarantee that the photo provided in the news is not a product of Photoshop.

Works Cited

Gortazar, Paula. Ethical Limits in Documentary Photography. n.d. Web.

. 2012. Web.

Courson, Roland de. Photography: Telling Art from Fraud. 2015. Web.

Munro, Neil. Real or Fake. 2006. Web.

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