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Old 01-04-2008, 12:05   #1 (permalink)
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Ethical question - what would you have done?

This afternoon there was a terrific bang down the road. I rushed down the hill to see what it was and a double decker truck and trailer stock truck had overturned on the corner of the road. Cows were trapped inside, broken legs, guts everywhere, wide eyed animals running loose all over the road - you get the picture. Rang the emergency services and dived in to get the animals out. As more people arrived some of the animals had to be put down - no gun - so the local farmer simply slit their throats.

About now I was beginning to think of what dramatic pictures these were.
The camera was but a few hundred yards away....
There were quite a few helpers by now and I wouldn't be missed...

What would you have done?
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Old 01-04-2008, 12:15   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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There were quite a few helpers by now and I wouldn't be missed...
Pretty sure I'd get the camera at this stage. Now if it'd been people and not cattle.........
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Old 01-04-2008, 12:59   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

natural instinct for me is to grab the camera first of all...
I did when I heard an explosion last year and managed to capture this at 7am in the morning...

Wolsingham Explosion 26th May 2007 - a photoset on Flickr
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Old 01-04-2008, 13:09   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

Oh how awful!

Don't honestly think I could bring myself to start photographing something like this, I'd just feel too guilty, like it was 'wrong' That's not criticising anyone else who would do, it's just that I wouldn't.

Good for you, getting stuck in there to help
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Old 01-04-2008, 13:20   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

If you are a journalist at work then I think it is reasonable to record events and to stand back in the face of human suffering. I don't think this is a reasonable approach if you are actually a bystander in a situation where your contribution could be important - but it depends on the situation. If you were a doctor or nurse would you help at a road accident to stop someone bleeding to death? I think you would. However if you were not medically trained, and the ambulance services were all in attendance - you would only be in the way trying to help.
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wide eyed animals running loose all over the road
I would stand well back - camera in hand!!
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Old 01-04-2008, 13:25   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

Nope I couldn't do it. I think I would have cried but then I"m a wimp when it comes to animals - guess I would never make a journalist!
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Old 01-04-2008, 15:03   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

I would of helped the farmer, and then got the camera out.
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Old 01-04-2008, 15:26   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

1. Grab camera
2. Call emergency services whilst heading to scene
3. Assess the situation to see if I can render meaningful aid to anyone in a possibly critical situation
4. Start shooting the scene

Most photojournalists will tell you that their primary job is to document the scene after calling in emergency aid. You have to realise your limitations and that, on occasion, you might just be getting in the way or making matters worse when trying to help.

It's not an uncaring attitude; it's a realistic, common-sense one.
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Old 01-04-2008, 15:32   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

Definitely get the camera out for me. Photography records moments of all types, delight, beauty, joy and pleasantries but also pain, suffering, bleakness.... all go to make an important record of life and have taught us so much.

How much money would have been donated to Live Aid and others were it not for photos and video of real human beings starving to death, mothers burying their sons, children lost and alone having lost both parents.... these things stir the human conscience to action and help to relieve the misery of others.

I personally don't get that emotional about animals but would never ever hurt an animal needlessly nor would I stand back and allow animals to be cruelly treated. In this case animals were clearly suffering but not because of inhumane treatment, just the sad result of an accidental tragedy. I would take photos of that but not compose them designed to shock and offend as that is mostly wrng (there is a place for it where lessons are to be learned though).

If this were humans then I would feel differently as I am a trained medic so would not pick up a camera while there were people to be helped and I am certain we would all do the same if we are equipped with the skills to help rather than hinder. Ambulance crew in a major situation like that would rarely tell you to go away. They would triage the casualties and then ask you to sit and reassure one of the lesser injured while they get on with helping those whose lives may be endangered.

If there is nothing you can do to help then unobtrusive reportage photography is perfectly acceptable as long as sensitivity is shown to the people involved and if anyone is getting distressed, you stop, end of story.

That's my view anyway, always difficult to know the right thing to do but ethics are not all black and white, it is often down to the person, the time, the place and the situation and a bit of common sense and courtesy.

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Old 01-04-2008, 19:07   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

Coming from a dairy farming background the cows would mean something to me and wouldnt have photographed them but I wouldnt be critical of people that didn't have the same care for them!

However, If I was to photograph them without helping or offering to help i know it wouldn't be the cows I would be looking out for lol
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Old 01-04-2008, 19:15   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

I have to say that this would be one of the rare times i would think of camera second........... as long as there was no way in which i could help then and ONLY then would i grab the camera. and yes i would have no problem at all about shooting the scene.
i could not however leave animals to suffer just to get a pic.

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Old 01-04-2008, 21:51   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

Oh Dear - I've come to the sudden realisation that I will never make a true photographer - as I left the camera where it was.
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Old 01-04-2008, 22:12   #13 (permalink)

PLEASE NOTE

I TYPE USING CAPITALS DUE TO A DISABILTY

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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

A Bit Of A Dilemma, First Reaction Is To Help, Second As A Photographer Go And Get The Camera.i Would Think It Would Have Been The Same On Sunday,
With The Plane Crash, Which Was Only A Couple Of Miles From Me.

First I Thought Go Up There And Take Some Shots, Then I Thought No, People Have Died Here,a Bit Ghoulish.
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Old 02-04-2008, 04:29   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

Re Wolsingham - amazing - what was the cause of the blast?

Last edited by woffa151; 02-04-2008 at 04:35. Reason: Did not mean anything without the reference to Wolsingham
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Old 02-04-2008, 11:16   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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Re Wolsingham - amazing - what was the cause of the blast?
cheers! yeah, the incident was a gas canister that exploded in thew back of his van...he was a local guy who stopped off for a newspaper...more info here -
BBC NEWS | England | Driver dies in welding van blast
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Old 02-04-2008, 13:57   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

It also depends on whether you photograph any subject or not. I accept that a Newspaper photographer might have taken the stock truck crash anyway but I do not think that this would have appealed to me; it did not sound photogenic and was unlikley to be a best seller. However, some of the Wolsingham photographs are more than record shots though I am sure it was only later that it became apparant that someone had died. Apart from sending the photographs to a local newspaper, it might seem inappropriate to enter in a competition. However, there are some photojourmalism competitions which quite rightly are intended to show it as it really was and not intended to be pictorial.

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Old 02-04-2008, 16:16   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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A Bit Of A Dilemma, First Reaction Is To Help, Second As A Photographer Go And Get The Camera.i Would Think It Would Have Been The Same On Sunday,
With The Plane Crash, Which Was Only A Couple Of Miles From Me.

First I Thought Go Up There And Take Some Shots, Then I Thought No, People Have Died Here,a Bit Ghoulish.
Good for you Woody. Totally the right decision in my opinion. I am uncomfortable how pro photographers treat this sort of situation. I am sure that their main interest is in how much will they get for the pictures. It is bad enough knowing what happened people do not NEED to see the details.
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Old 02-04-2008, 16:44   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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It also depends on whether you photograph any subject or not. I accept that a Newspaper photographer might have taken the stock truck crash anyway but I do not think that this would have appealed to me; it did not sound photogenic and was unlikley to be a best seller. However, some of the Wolsingham photographs are more than record shots though I am sure it was only later that it became apparant that someone had died. Apart from sending the photographs to a local newspaper, it might seem inappropriate to enter in a competition. However, there are some photojourmalism competitions which quite rightly are intended to show it as it really was and not intended to be pictorial.

Dave
yeah, to be honest I didn't have a clue what was going on...I was just awoken by a big explosion...got up, got fressed, got washed, grabbed my camera and went out...I initial thought was that it may have been down to terrorism and that there may or maynot have been anyone in the van...
I was running on adrenalin and by the time I got back home I did break down and cry when trying to explain to my lady what had happened...in fact it was easier to show her the photos...
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Old 02-04-2008, 16:46   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

That story was told on the 1st of April, Broken legs, Guts everywhere, slit throats Hmmm ???
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Old 02-04-2008, 17:56   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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I am uncomfortable how pro photographers treat this sort of situation. I am sure that their main interest is in how much will they get for the pictures.
Any photographer that does his job full-time is motivated by money; it's not just press photographers or photojournalists that fall into this category, so be mindful of the light you paint them in.

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It is bad enough knowing what happened people do not NEED to see the details.
I disagree: the old adage of "a picture is worth a thousand words" is very critical here; you can often convey more information with one strong image than you can with column inches in the press.

Whenever a shocking event occurs, it is otften the pictures and video of those events that bring home the true impact - particularly in areas of conflict, social unrest, famine etc. You'd be surprised how 'toned down' the mainstream media already is in this regard.

As an example - if the public were to see the unedited images filed by photographers in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, I doubt anyone would have a pro-war stance.

It's one thing to write "suicide bomb detonates in crowded market" but the true horror of such an event can often only be conveyed in pictures.

And it should be horrific - "It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it." (Robert E. Lee, statement at the Battle of Fredericksburg, 13th December 1862)

So yes - photojournalists do make their money, but many of them view their prime responsibility as documenting the truth so that the public can make up their own minds on an issue.
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Old 02-04-2008, 19:04   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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Any photographer that does his job full-time is motivated by money
Actually I know a few journos and pro 'togs who're motivated by the desire to do a good job! I also know a few motivated by money (former usually call themselves 'writers' instead of journalists and the latter are paps!)

In the same way that 'togs want to take the pic that 'tells the story', however horrific, a good journalist wants to literally tell the story, as it is and not as others might interpret it (otherwise let's just depend on press releases/conferences!)
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Old 02-04-2008, 23:13   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

I could not have used my camera,it would have upset me to much,but nothing against anyone who could,as someone has to document it.
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:38   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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That story was told on the 1st of April, Broken legs, Guts everywhere, slit throats Hmmm ???
Ray - you are a cynic!
No, sorry to say, it's all true.
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:11   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

Just to pick up on a few points that people have made.
I think it's absolutely right that photo-journos show us the drama of what has happened so we can make up our own minds. It's their job regardless of how unsavoury it may be. I remember the famous picture of a vulture about to kill a starving African child and how the photographer got dumped on. But the impact of that photograph was astonishing and brought the plight of the starving right into our homes with much more force than any words could.

However, in the cattle truck situation I felt it would be inappropriate for some local amateur dude to turn up waving a lens around the place when there was an obvious emergency, I was first on the scene and someone needed help.

Can you imagine it....

"Hang on a minute mate - I'll just whip up to the house and grab the camera - carry on - someone's bound to be along shortly."

That would go down like a cup of cold sick.
Then, of course, there's the truck driver who might decide to have a swing. And the police who might want the photos. And the insurance company.....jeez - who can be bothered ...as I say...it's one thing if it is your job and quite another if you're just an enthusiastic amateur.

On a similar note, I was in Japan recently. There was a dirty bag-lady in the middle of this incredibly brightly light, white, antiseptically clean, subway station. She was just siting there in the lotus position while thousands walked around her. The contrast between her and her surroundings - her serenity and the frenetic acitivity - was breathtaking. But I couldn't bring myself to photograph that either...I felt it would be just too much of an invasion of her person.

Damn.
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:35   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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Ray - you are a cynic!
No, sorry to say, it's all true.
Is it in your local paper for 1/4/2008 i could only find this for 15/3/2008
Poor visibility suspected in fatal truck/train crash - New Zealand news on Stuff.co.nz
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:19   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

Woffa, I think you're going completely off the point. I don't think ANYONE has suggested that if you see someone needing help you say 'I'll grab the camera, someone will be along soon!' Of course not! If someone needs help you give it. That has nothing to do with being a photographer, pro or amateur, it is simply to do with being a human being.

The question was about whether it is right or wrong ethically to take photos of suffering, in this case of animals suffering, not about making a choice between helping and taking pictures! That would need someone truly sick to say the latter!

But emotive photos are vital, sometimes requiring tragic moments to be captured. By such things the world wakes!

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 03-04-2008, 14:26   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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yeah, to be honest I didn't have a clue what was going on...I was just awoken by a big explosion...got up, got fressed, got washed, grabbed my camera and went out...I initial thought was that it may have been down to terrorism and that there may or maynot have been anyone in the van...
I was running on adrenalin and by the time I got back home I did break down and cry when trying to explain to my lady what had happened...in fact it was easier to show her the photos...
I thought you presented it well in that it is presented as a photojournalism sequence. I watched it as a slide show and sat through the whole thing. It did come over as "What has happened, is it a bomb, accident????" I looked at your newslinks as well which help to complete the picture. I was also amazed how close people got the the scene presumably not realising the great risk of another explosion. It also seemed a long time before the Fire Service turned up (judged by the sequence without actual reference to time). Anyway, I think you did an excellent job in the circumstances. Did the authorities want to see your photographs to try to assess how it happened; could be useful for residents insurance claims as well.
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Old 04-04-2008, 07:23   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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Ray - you are a cynic!
No, sorry to say, it's all true.
Just for Ray! Proof at last that it did happen.
Someone sent in some bad photographs after all the excitement was over.

http://www.pixalo.com/gallery/showph...p/photo/21689][/url]
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:46   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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Just for Ray! Proof at last that it did happen.
Someone sent in some bad photographs after all the excitement was over.

http://www.pixalo.com/gallery/showph...p/photo/21689][/url]
I made a tounge in the cheek comment about april fools day thats all, lighten up
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:30   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Ethical question - what would you have done?

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I made a tounge in the cheek comment about april fools day thats all, lighten up
Mate - I know you did -
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