An Exhibition on Ethics

Over at The New York Times’ Lens blog, James Estrin has a piece up about a new exhibit at the Bronx Documentary Center titled, “Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography.” The post has an interview with Michael Kamber, one of the co-curators and it’s worth a read.

Was happy to see that two of my major concerns – the lack of editors and the move to independents – are touched upon:

“I think the main reason is that photography is a lot more democratic today and I think that’s great,” Mr. Kamber, 51, said. “But 20 years ago there were more staff photographers, and they knew very clearly that altering a photo was a fireable offense. Newspapers are laying off photographers by the hundreds, and there are all these young freelancers who have not been properly trained in what is or is not allowable or ethical.”

When Mr. Kamber was a young freelancer, his editors looked at his contact sheets and could more easily tell if a photograph had been posed by studying the frames before and after. Today photojournalists send in single images from the field and can easily alter them on their laptop or smartphone.

Mark E. Johnson

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