Instagram, Hipstamatic and Photographing the Homeless; they may not seem the same


Completely Counter-dependent
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Dec 11, 2006
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OK, I fully recognize that I am an opinionated cranky SOB but after one spends a long time struggling through life and wives, surely opinions that are hard won should be allowed.

This piece has been extensively edited and re-posted at my-opinions-about-photographing-the-homeless-and-using-Hipstamatic-filters-negative

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im not a blogger myself, not do i generally read blogs, but I genuinely enjoyed reading that Lew. thanks. And I agree with you on that one 100%

I also read "to stage or not to stage" and I find MV not only to be a dishonest photographer, but if the article is correct in the their statement that he had a 10 year old girls corpse exhumed in Uganda to take pictures of it, then he is morally reprehensible and ethically bankrupt. He seems to favor misdirection, lies of omission and even outright falsehoods to further himself in a career meant to show "truth".

I also read the "prize winning ethics lesson", which seemed to tackle a much grayer area in photojournalism. I did notice that the review board did NOT find his picture/caption "fundamentally misleading", but I suspect that the photographer "forgetting" certain details and suddenly only remembering that he was a "soldier" when the caption read "marine sniper" was a little TOO coincidental. It reeks of plausible denyability to me.

I know it ends abruptly without a good summary but I am struggling with that.
And hope from the comments to get a decent hold on it.

what lesson is there to be learned from photojournalism if it is staged? Is it like a modern documentary and "based on a true story"?
where does "creative liberties" simply become "a work of fiction"? Perhaps more of these photographs should be labeled as the really are, a "recreation". With no presumption of spontaneity or raw truth as it happened, but rather simply a re-enactment. I think that would be more technically accurate for the photographers in the blogs you linked. especially MV.
It feels a little muddled up, as if you have too many ideas pushed together.

First of all, you spend a little time with the idea of factual truth in photography (use the actual firefighters, not some stock pictures). This idea of factual truth seems to be an irrelevant side journey, because you pretty quickly get on to some more general, abstract, "Truth" in photos. A photograph, and the way it is handled, need to be honest and truthful in some aesthetic way, which is quite distinct from factual truths.

They're both reasonable points of view to take, but they're quite separate at least in my mind.

Then your thinking later feels a bit forced. The overall theme of "don't use cheap emotional triggers" is clear, but I think again you're muddling up some subtopics a bit. On the one hand the picture of the homeless dude IS a cheap emotional thing trigger. So is an instagram filter.

The essay gets muddled HERE because you're talking on the one hand about processing/effects that are not true to the image and are instead simply visual cues, emotional triggers again, and trying to make that work with your discussion of the pictures of the homeless guys.

I think you need to divide this into two pieces, or two sections at least, with some sort of coda that attempts to more coherently bring them together:

- one on Truths In Pictures -- factual truth when it is implied, as well as handling of the image that is more aesthetically "True" to the image.
- a second one on cheapness and cheaply used emotional triggers

A cheaply used emotional trigger can be a lie/untruth, or it can be completely honest. The point is that it's cheap.
A lie/untruth can be a cheap shot, or it can be a powerful artistic statement. The point is that it's a lie.
Nothing to add except I enjoy your blogs. Something to either learn or just to think about. Subscribed :) It is okay to be a SOB sometimes. Although I think you are more on the helpful side and just don't want to admit that. :)

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