Ethics vs. Art: The Crop

The New York Times‘ Lens blog (really, a must read at this point) has an essay up by David Hume Kennerly where he talks about a photo he shot of former Vice President Dick Cheney at home with his family preparing a dinner meal. The image was picked up by Newsweek, but two thirds of it was cropped out. Kennerly believes this radically changed the meaning of the image and damaged his credibility.

Photojournalists fight the credibility battle every day, from combating digitally faked photos to being lumped in with the paparazzi, a group of camera-carrying cretins who have no respect for anything, particularly the people they hound. In the case of my Cheney photo, Newsweek is guilty not just of blurring but of blowing up that line between tabloid-style sensationalism and honest photojournalism.

The comments, so far, are very telling as to how people think about images – they range from folks saying they believe he’s over-reacting to those who believe an image should never be cropped.

What do you think?

Mark E. Johnson

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