Legitimate use of image, or exploitative and insensitive?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Alfiedog, Sep 16, 2018.

  1. Alfiedog

    Alfiedog TPF Noob!

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    WARNING ... this thread discusses a person with a terminal illness. If this is going to upset or offend you in any way, please do not read any further. Please delete this thread if it crosses any boundaries: it is not my intention to cause upset, just to look for opinions on a very sensitive matter.

    So ..... A photographer friend asked for my opinion on a matter recently and I have mixed views on the matter, so thought I'd ask for a few wider views from other photographers.

    Said friend has taken some (exceptionally good!) images of a dog, which belongs to a lady of his acquaintance, at her request. The dog is very elderly and infirm and the lady wanted some good pictures for her family to keep and treasure as she knows she won't have him around for very much longer, as unfortunately is the way with old dogs. However, the lady herself is, sadly, terminally ill and also has limited time left. During the shoot my friend took a number of pictures of the dog, but also a few of the lady and dog together. One of the images in particular is quite poignant and moving as it shows the lady hugging the dog as if to say goodbye.

    The issue is that my friend is a member of a local photography club and likes to enter his images in club level competitions. He would like to enter this image in a competition: technically and as a piece of imagery it's quite exceptional. Morally, however, he has doubts whether it would be an appropriate use of such an image and hence he has asked my view. He owns the copyright of the image and has the permission the lady in question to use the picture for this purpose if he wishes. The image would be presented as a print and would not be on-line or in the public domain in any way.

    If pushed, I'd say my own opinion is that I don't think he should use it regardless of the fact that it's a stunningly good piece of work. It was a very private moment and should be kept that way and not used for self promotion in a competition. However, I'd really welcome anyone else thoughts.

    Apologies for raising a sensitive topic, but this situation raises an interesting point about what is and is not a legitimate use of a copyright image.


     
  2. Bollygum

    Bollygum TPF Noob!

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    I can't see a problem if the woman is fully aware of its intended use. Dying is not necessarily something that should be hidden.
     
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  3. zombiesniper

    zombiesniper Furtographer Extraordinaire! Supporting Member

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    This boils down to how he feels about it. The rest of the world doesn't matter one bit.

    If it is going to bother him I would say don't do it. If he is okay with showing his image, then go for it.

    Personally I would have no issues with it.
     
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  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I don't see an issue, particularly if the subject is aware and has consented. Dying is something we're all going to do at some time, so while sad, it's not exactly unusual.
     
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  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I don't see anything wrong; all parties involved have all the moral and legal permissions in place and its not a photo that, in sharing, would result in shame, insult or otherwise damage the social standing of the person involved.

    I'd say sharing and entering it into the competition should be perfectly fine both legally and morally. A private moment to be sure, but the power of the camera is to capture those moments and, when well taken, to share them with the world. To show that emotion and spread it far and wide.
     
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  6. Dean_Gretsch

    Dean_Gretsch Always looking... Supporting Member

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    You said the lady had given permission, so that gives a green light. You said the photographer himself had issues though. If it is weighing heavily, why even consider it? I would never use/show an image that caused me to have doubts, but from your description, I don't think I would have any reservations.
     
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  7. paigew

    paigew Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If he has permission from his subject, then I don’t see an issue. Art is meant to evoke emotion.


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  8. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I echo the above. If permission is granted, then you're good to go. As a former news photographer, this type of situation was a weekly occurrence ... daily in some cases. Life and death are inseparable, intertwined and explicable. It is good that the friend gave it a second thought, as these types of situations require thought, but if the images are respectful then no more than a second thought is needed for a proper answer. I am assuming there is a powerful and moving story in that private moment ... which, most likely, should be shared shared with others.

    Give them both a hug from us on the forum.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Seems like an okay use of a powerful and meaningful photo.
     
  10. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    When I read 'The issue is...' by the end of that sentence I went 'no'. To me this is for her, and it's personal; it wouldn't be about me and promoting myself as a photographer.

    However, if he chooses to do this he needs to get written permission/a release signed (which better say print and public usage/public viewing, or something...) because it would be better to not have problems later (such as the family not being happy about it). It's possible pictures of the photo in the club's exhibit or on display could end up in the local paper or on social media, posted by people with phones attending an exhibit. (Club competition = viewable by the public, who have cell phones.....)
     
  11. otherprof

    otherprof TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    As you’ve described it, there is nothing exploitative or insensitive in displaying the photo in the competition.
     
  12. Alfiedog

    Alfiedog TPF Noob!

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    Thanks to you all for your thoughts and comments.
     

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