Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Photography ethics - Voracious Blog Reader

Courtesy: BBC News

The above pictured in the BBC website.

I felt very sad looking at the photo.

The Woman was collecting rice that was spilt on the ground. Its really heart breaking to see somebody lowered to such a state. :(

Whether this Woman is a terrorist, muslim, Iraqi etc., she is a Woman first. She is so caring that she picks up rice for her family.

To top all this, the Photographer thought that it was appropriate to photograph her. Dear Photographer, do the words "Photography ethics" tell you something? Shame on you.

And a soldier is happily posing for the photo withouteven a shade of shame or pity for the women.

Voracious Blog Reader


Anonymous said...

what should be the soldier ashamed off?

you see rag pickers going through the garbage like raccoons everyday, did you ever stop to show compassion?

odysseus said...

honestly, i don't think the photographer should be ashamed of / be blamed of ethics.

We are even aware of such atrocities only because they are made evident.

On the contrary, it takes the photographer to be brave enough to shoot such scenes of dire reality, shelving his emotions even for a moment to do what is required and more than that - even risking his/her own life.

Well, do we know what happened after the photograph was taken? In all possible might - the photographer might have helped the women gather back her spilled rice. After all any humane person would be moved.

The pic raises a hundred questions - about basic humanity, let alone any atrocities... thus solving its goal of existence - projecting the reality to the greater mass out there to see, judge, contemplate and may be ... act!

Curious said...

You know this is bit difficult to actually raise questions like that when there are million such scenes which could ivoke the deepest of feelings for human kind.. But if such photographs don't come out - how would one know what's happening in real world?

Anonymous said...

well , good reply by ankur (enagar) anyways yes ,morally incorrect but i have seen much more shocking pics than this..this dint surprise me much...
i saw a ;live video once in a news channel where a guy who supposdly had desease was not allowed in a hospital..the guy was n't even able tp crawl..pathetic news and the channel

Sree said...

hmm.Its a nice photograph in the sense,as many have already commented here,that unless such hardships are delivered to the world,how can people understand people.The woman am sure must be glad than raged to have her photo taken at such hour,portraying her hardship and be given a chance to speak her heart out.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Carter. http://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&q=kevin+carter&btnG=Google+Search&meta=

It's a difficult judgement to make: criticising the photographer is not necesarily the way to go.

And honestly - aren't all of us part of the photographer? We sit in our nice little rooms, hitting the keyboard, talking about a photographer who was there at the scene... hard call to make.

Who knows what happened just before, or just after s/he took the photograph? Who knows which jerk decided that woman's country's fate? Too many questions around this one image...

Swietinsky said...


>>Whether this Woman is a terrorist, muslim, Iraqi etc., she is a Woman first.<<

An old woman as a terrorist? She's an old lady. A very distressed, very sad old lady indeed. It's very unlikely to find WMDs under her dirty clothes. (As a matter of fact you won't find any in Iraq neither).

And what does anything has to do with her religion? Are you free to choose religion? Yes, you are. Just like anybody else. If she is a muslim, than it is her right to be one. And it's her private business. Are you aware that your sentence is implying that a muslim worths less than any non-muslim (a Christian or a Buddhist for example)?

And what does anything has to do with her nationality? Are you aware that your sentence is implying that an Iraqi human being worths less than any non-Iraqi (an American, a French or a British for example)?

>>She is so caring that she picks up rice for her family.
To top all this, the Photographer thought that it was appropriate to photograph her. Dear Photographer, do the words "Photography ethics" tell you something? Shame on you.<<

We need these kind of photographers to take these kind of pictures so that you can see what's going on over there, so that you may start to think that something is not right. An old lady shouldn't pick up rice from the dirt, but should enjoy her well deserved pension in peace and respect. Any old lady. Like my grandma. Or yours if you have one. (I hope you do, I didn't mean no harm).

Dear Sree, do the words "understanding what's going on" tell you something? Here is a very good article on the subject. I won't say "shame on you", probably you've been fed with the mainstream media's brainwashing news, so your naivety is not your fault, but please, take a look around. Google "Iraq+oil". Or try "Iraq+WMD". You'll be surprised.

Anyway, photographers' job is to take photographs. Whatever comes their way they shoot at it. (Yeah, they do. And one out of hundreds or thousands of pictures makes the news). Luckily the target doesn't dies hence this but gets famous sometimes.
They are selling these pictures for a living. (The subject usually doesn't get paid).
The more staggering or tragic the picture the higher the price. It has nothing to do with ethics, humanity, appropriate or non-appropriate situations, nothing. It's about selling the news. It's called media. Media is a business. And business has little or not ethics at all. Business is business. If a newspaper can sell more copies with horrible pictures, it'll buy and put horrible pictures on the cover.

>>And a soldier is happily posing for the photo withouteven a shade of shame or pity for the women.<<

Probably he is very happy that he's being shot at only by a photographer and not by an AK machinegun.
(And actually I'm quiet happy too, that he just stands over there with that numb look on his face, when he could shoot or even torture the poor woman, maybe she's a terrorist after all).

Watch this film, or this or this if you have a little time.

You know, if you seen nothing but death and dying peoples around you (men, women and children) for a while you won't care about any poor old lady. You may care about your fellow soldiers, but in war you really loose your empathy for others. If you are lucky. If not, you may go crazy.

Why should he show shame or pity for this old lady? Or should I ask: how could he show shame or pity? A poor old lady is nothing compared to a dead child with turned-out guts or torn-off limbs.
Don't Google this, you won't sleep well.

War is not for human beings. Read this article from the pen of Major General Smedley D. Butler. He wrote it in 1935. It explains the reasons of all wars in general. (The design is lazy, but ignore it, it's a good writing). Just to understand why this old woman has to do what she does on the picture.

Anyway, your caption could go like this:

Distressed Iraqi women picks up rice from the dirt while a soldier senselessly smiles in the background. War is always horrible.

There you go. No fence, even politically correct.

Best Regards:


Smita said...

:-( sad indeed...

Though on humanitarian grounds it is wrong to publish such snap but then this snap also brings in to the light the fact that how bad things are at places...

Cuckoo said...

Well, even I was angered first but then when reality strikes, it strikes hard.

Mark H ("Travel Wonders") said...

I strongly believe that the photo is reasonable. It brings no shame to the woman - in fact, highlights her efforts to help support her family. It demonstrates to the world in Iraq the struggles for everyday living. Maybe seeing good in thr world, but I also think that there is a reasonable chance that the photographer assisted the lady. Countries doing bad things to there people inevitably try to control the media and their imagery - surely the reverse of this is to encourage such imagery to get out so that we are more enlightened as to what is going on.

Voracious Blog Reader said...

Hi Mark H,

You have given a valid view point.

I never saw that in that angle and hence was enraged. Thanks for pointing it out.

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Smita, Cuckoo

Yes. Indeed sad.

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