In the modern visual world, some people want to use their photography to do more than just tell a news story, they want to make up a story using their photo. For editorail journalism, there is a fairly clearcut set of guidelines, while in the world of parody and opinion are much less defined.
Two recent cases over the last week are worth a case study. In the first, PDN reported on photographer Jill Greenberg, who took some personal liberties while shooting John McCain for the cover of The Atlantic. The short story is she basically ‘tricked’ McCain into a very unflattering lighting setup, thereby making him appear evil – think flashlight-under-the chin sort of thing. There is also a good read about this on the Photo Business Forum.
Attorney Ed Greenberg (no relation) has sent out a letter via his email list that contains the following helpful links, in which he writes:
There are numerous articles, rules and codes regarding photography in this â€œage of falsificationâ€. These codes and standards are used by news agencies, magazines and courtrooms and serve to permit and prohibit, the extent to which imagery may be altered for their respective purposes. We urge each of you to be aware of the ethics involved when altering imagery. It is a subject we teach at The School of Visual Arts.
Perhaps the best set of guidelines are those of The National Press Photographerâ€™s Association (NPPA Ethics)
Other notable references worth more than a look:
He also included the following links as well:
And then there’s the case of the photo of Sarah Palin in a flag-style bikini holding (edit) an air rifle. Photographer Jim Goldstein managed to score an interview with the young out-of-work web-editor that ‘assembled’ this image. Oddly and sadly, even in this parody arising out of boredom, she never asked permission to alter someone else’s photo(s). She says she just assumed the image(s) were creative commons, and she never thought to ask. What a great education some people seem to be lacking as they waltz out of school. What if the original photographer decided sue for unauthorized use? He may or may not win due to Fair Use doctrines, but either way, it would be a very expensive lesson.
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