There is a struggle going on in documentary photography between proponents of journalistic ethics and practices and those who believe that new visual and storytelling strategies are needed to communicate effectively in the modern world. The controversies surrounding this year’s World Press Photo awards have amplified this debate.
An interesting article. I find myself pretty much in agreement with Santiago Lyon. Vice president and director of photography, The Associated Press when he outlines the following tenets, which I summarize here:
- Photographer must be truthful. Scenes must not be created or recreated.
- Image should not be altered later electronically e.g. remove and inconvenient element.
- Image should not be darkened or lightened in a way the portrays the scene differently from originally seen.
- News or sports photographer should not interfere with or direct subjects.
- Other forms of photography (the example given was portraiture) should be clearly described as something other than photojournalist along with an indication of what was done “to achieve the image on scene, in camera or in postproduction.”
There are those, myself included, for whom the basic journalistic values outlined here are paramount while others are frustrated by the perceived restraints of convention and cliché and seek broader storytelling latitude.
The two notions need not be mutually exclusive. I am all for creativity and artistic provocation; I merely seek clear definitions of the work produced so that we don’t damage that ever important trust — so crucial to our credibility and survival as journalists.
Thankfully I’m not into any form of photojournalism so I can do with my photographs as I will – all in the name of fine art photography.