My First Photochat

#Photochat is something I have seen quite often on my twitter feed on Thursdays.  Last week i decided to ask what it is and found out it is a twitter chat that happens every Thursday at 1pm EST (7PM CET) between photography professionals and enthusiasts. I signed up and receive a link to the questions for this weeks chat.

I have decided to post my answers to this weeks questions here in full and will answer more condensed (140 characters) versions via twitter this evening (or afternoon depending on where you are).

You can join in or follow the chat on twitter using #photochat.

Q1: You take a phenomenal candid photo of someone (legally). You love it, but subject hates it and wants it gone. What do you do?

In this situation there are two options, to keep the image or not to keep the image. In this case I would try to explain why the image is phenomenal and demonstrate why the image is so good. If I cannot persuade the subject to change their mind, I would find out what the reason is for the objection to the image and see if the image can be possibly edited to make it more palatable to the subject. If you are also unable to do this, I think a balance needs to be found between the value of the image and the value of the relationship with the subject.

Personally once going through all of the above I would ignore the subjects opinion and keep hold of the image and see if the subjects opinion changes. If it doesn’t change I would still keep hold of it and if a time comes for publication make them aware that it will be published and where. This seems harsh but the image is yours not theirs.

Q2: At what point in the editing process is a photograph no longer a photograph? Is there a definitive point of no return?


Photograph or Digital art

With digital images there is a point where an image is a photograph and an image is digital art but in drawing lines there are always areas of grey.

Photography as an art form like all art it is constantly evolving but unlike other mediums is wholly democratic. Being democratic it means that the use of photography is not just for photographers but graphic artists, artists as well as the average person.  I think that a photograph is no longer a photograph when the intention of the image is not to be a photograph but to be something else.

The point of no return is when the intention of the output is no longer photographic.

Q3: When the media reports on a tragedy and includes photos, should they show the uncensored truth or use more “tasteful” images?

It is the media’s job to unbiasedly report the news. It is said that children see more violence on the news than they see in films and games.
I feel the question should be asked if graphic images are needed to show truth of the story. Will the story still have impact without an excessively violent image?
The truth should never be censored but when faced with two images from a scene where a terrorist bomb exploded in a building, do you choose the image of the child burning alive, or a picture of a child on fire.

In reporting the bomb attack in Boston, on Monday, New York Daily News photoshopped an image on their front page. The image was of a woman lying on her back with quite a gruesome injury.  Charles Apple who reported this on his blog said “Looks to me like somebody did a little doctoring of that photo to remove a bit of gore. If you can’t stomach the gore, don’t run the photo. Period.”

There needs to be a judgement call if an image is suitable for the eyes of a young child who may stumble upon it (esp if it is on the front page), and if the image is adds more to a story than that of another.

Q4: When is it acceptable to photograph someone else’s emotional distress? When is it not? And where do we draw the line?

If a person is in emotional distress an image can be extremely beautiful. The best portraits in my opinion show the emotion of the person, making them more real. In drawing a line on when and when it is not ok to take a picture, it could happen that the line will move more towards what we call unacceptable. I would say that taking of the image is one thing but then publishing the image is very much another.

In taking the picture though you are also possibly crossing into the area of question one where we may find ourselves with an amazing image.

The best way to draw a line in this instance is to say “Would I like a picture taken of myself in such a situation?”, if the answer is no then don’t do it. There are expectations that could be made, for example in journalism when the image is news worthy and has public interest.

Q5: In a dire situation, when should the photographer set the camera aside and step in to help?

This topic came up last year with the Photograph of a man being killed by a New York subway train.

There are many questions a photographer must ask themselves internally.

Firstly “Am I safe?” If a man is in a situation where you are putting yourself in harm’s way I feel you should look at your safety first before helping.

Secondly “Is there anything I can do?” Sometimes too many cooks can cause more problems saving someone, especially where there is confined space.

The last question should be “Should I take a picture?”.

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz Image of Domestic Violence

There was large condemnation against the actions of Sara Naomi Lewkowicz who photographed a violent domestic argument between a couple. She was slated for not stepping in and helping the victim. She replied;

The incident raised a number of ethical questions. I’ve been castigated by a number of anonymous internet commenters who have said that I should have somehow physically intervened between the two. Their criticism counters what actual law enforcement officers have told me — that physically intervening would have likely only made the situation worse, endangering me, and further endangering Maggie.

Source, Time LightBox

I would like to say that I would step in and help but until I am faced with the decision I don’t know what I would do.

I would love to know what your opinions to the questions are. Do you agree or disagree with my answers? Either way you can let me know using the comment box below.

If you wish to get notifications when I post on my blog, you can follow me on Twitter@aperture64, on or alternatively be emailed by subscribing below.

4 thoughts on “My First Photochat

  1. Good answers. On the last one, I agree. Until you are in that situation you cannot know how you will react. We all hope we would do the ‘right thing’ but that may not be intervening.

    • I find it hard to listen to people saying in this situation I would do this or that, but nevering being in the situation you don’t know. I will be participating again as it was so much fun. So expect more of the same in future weeks.

  2. this is great…interesting answers to questions that I’ve asked at one time or another about photographers…I agree, we shouldn’t criticize others because until we have been in the same situation we have no idea how we would handle the situation.

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