AGSTAR Photojournalism

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reading the Blog post “Tempest in a Teacup” I was astonished on what he had to say. Basically that we run around posing images or telling visual lies in order to get published. I am sorry but that is pure B#LL SH@T.

I do agree that dealing with a lot of text editors with the wrong ideas on what a news photo should be in order to be published is a major pain. I suffer and fight these fools on a daily basis and don’t always win. There is a general lack of imagination in most newspaper editors now days in every respect. I guess that is one of the reasons the papers are dying.

I do agree that most major publications have dropped the ball, reporting on the wars.

But I consider it disrespectful to say that all other photojournalist (wire service or local) are running around posing images or altering them in order to get them published.

In the case of the NYT photojournalist Zachary Canepari, he posed the photo. End of story. Was he telling fiction or reporting about a real interview with a real person. The moment he got up and put the AK47 in the hands of this Taliban official to get a better photo, he lost his credibility.

As a photo editor he lost me in two ways. First he has so little imagination that the only way he could make a strong photo was to go and pick up a gun and put in the guy’s hands. That is just as bad as a text editor insisting on a pre conceived photo for his news story. Second If you do not have ethics to tell the truth as you find it then you are in the wrong business.

In my 25 years of experience in Latin America, in this business I have found that most photojournalist are way much better journalist than most writers in the newspapers and wire service offices.

I consider it insulting that this blog insinuates that we run around posing images and making up stories that are no true. I see the production of AFP and AP as well as our own daily production every day, and along with the bearded mullahs and women in burqas I see wonderful images of everday life. Not just war and degradation. Then again we are also in the “News” business after all.

In the case of the blue sky photos from Haiti, yes if you see the originals and then se the enhanced ones, they are completely different images. Again, if the only way you can make stirring images from the horror that where the storms in Haiti is by manipulating the images later in photoshop then you need to find yourself another line of business.

I do not care if you are embedded in the US army or trekking with the Taliban or in a walkabout in Haiti. You do not pose the images before or alter them later in post production. You tell the truth as you find it. It is a simple rule.

Of course there are other agenda’s others want to impose on you. People want to manipulate you in the field. But If you are embedded then you report it as such and present your work as is and let the reader decide. But do not go around badmouthing the photojournalists who embedded with the soldiers in Afghanistan are risking their lives to get the images. If they are in that position it’s because for now it is the only way to get images from that story. If you can get in another way and come out alive then more power to you and I guarantee that those images will be published and win awards too.

A a photo editor I will fight to get you the information you need to get the images we want and I will fight to get your best work published when it comes in. As we know planning is one thing and reality is another and as a photojournalist I know you will bring more and better images than the ones originally asked for when we gave out the assignment.

As a photo editor I expect that all of the work that a photojournalist turns in for publication is produced under ethical standards that are common to all of us. You do not lie, you do not pose images, you do not alter the in any way. If you violate these rules in any way then you will no longer work for me, or for the publication that I represent. Again, it’s that simple.

Most of the photojournalist that I know and work with, respect these rules and consider them sacrosant. The few that lie will be thrown out and the vast majority of us will keep on working just fine. So these guys at the Spinning Head blog better go out in the field again and remember what it is to be working out there. If they do not win any prizes and their work is not published then either get better or get out, but do not go about bad mouthing the rest of us for your shortcomings.

by Tomas Stargardter at Sat May 23 18:47:59 UTC 2009