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Insensitive PhotosAs an editorial stock photographer you are not coached or art-directed by someone else, as is the commercial photographer. You make the decisions. As an editorial stock photographer your mission is to produce images of the world as you see it. This is the same license given to any artist. If you are constrained as an artist, then you are influenced, and if you are influenced, your directions are coming from someone other than you. If this be the case, then the photograph is not really yours.
Society would have artists produce material that is 'politically correct,' or to put it another way, to not produce material that is considered insensitive to local, regional, or national mores.
Within our own industry, critics of your editorial stock photography will often wave the banner of "ethics," claiming that you have overstepped certain boundaries in photographing wildlife, or natural objects. Or that you’re intruding into the private lives of individuals or government officials.
What does “ethics” have to do with art? Or don’t you consider yourself an artist? If you think of yourself as an engineer, or a technician, maybe ethics plays a role.
For example, a couple of decades ago, photographers were wringing their hands over the possibility that digital photography would disrupt the 'ethical purity' of a photograph by allowing the manipulation of the contents to create an altered image from the original. Today, the voices of protest have subsided and society accepts a digitized image.
This seems to be a cultural question. I don’t think that before digitizing, or before film for that matter, artists ever thought of “ethics” in their art. Before film and digits, there were sketches, oils, pastels, watercolor, engravings, lithographs -- and no one ever asked the artist if he or she were being 'ethical' by manipulating a scene to change it or improve it.
Photography, in my opinion, was never meant to be a mechanical art where the medium was in control, not the photographer. Editorial stock photography allows you to go beyond the mere 'taking' of a picture. It allows you to make a picture - and that's being an artist. -RE
Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of the weekly PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 1 715 248 7394
Web site: www.photosource.com