OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915 : Assignment 4 a Critical review.

Was it ethical?

To shoot or not to shoot


This critical review of some of my work and asking the question of what is ethical? Discuss the ethics of the photographers and academics I have come across while studying.

Photographers, old and new.


One photographer that has come to my notice over the time on this course is Andre Kertesz. He shot a lot from the sidelines not intruding on the subjects in the images.

Kertesz was, in my opinion, a real artist, while viewing his work it all seems on a higher level than some of the photographers of today.  He conducted his life as a professional photographer as a true gentleman and would not have intentionally put his subjects in a position of ridicule with the use of his images. Looking at the Image below she looks like a dancer reading backstage. Kertesz has noticed this woman and the comical way she is dressed, thought about the framing of the picture and taken the shot, including some of the detail around the woman completing the story. She now sits perfectly in context with her surroundings. The images show a delightful young woman backstage. If asked if she was offended in any way, I am sure her answer would have been no. I would imagine that Kertesz was given permission to take the picture, having been allowed to go backstage. So there is no underlying sneakiness on his part.

This brings me to my point about Kertesz being on a higher level, in using the camera in an ethical way than some of today’s photographers. Kertesz exhibited almost every year from 1927 until 2012 and some years two or three times all over the world. And not one of his images were judged as unethical, this, of course, could be put down to the style he used in his photography, I like to think it was to do with his principles.

(http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Andre-Kertesz.html(accessed 10/09/18))

There was some criticism Of the image below as Kertesz was known for his street  Photography and many people said it was staged so, therefore, not street photography. Even if it was a composed image, I don’t think he ever said it wasn’t. Kertesz took several Images at the same place over a long period. He could have been working on the Idea, and when he knew all the pieces of the puzzle would be there at the right time, he made the Image and brought his friend along for some four ground interest. I think the criticism is unfounded he should be praised for his planning.


(https://www.neomodern.com/blog/2017/10/18/meudon-1928-by-andre-kertesz(accessed 08/09/18))


Jacques Henri Lartigue

Lartigue was of a similar age to Kertesz, would Kertesz have taken this shot below?  Because in a way it is very similar the Kertesz shot above is taken without there knowledge discretely fully occupied framed by their surroundings not removed from that what Kertesz called the Human thing. I like to think Kertesz wouldn’t have taken this picture, because as I mentioned earlier, (opinion)he is on a higher plane than most other photographers. Also, the images that he has taken of nudes are far superior to this all in collaboration with the models in the genre of Art.

As I mentioned earlier, Kertesz was a true gentleman in his work. Can we put this down to the time he was born, a time when people had perceived respect for other people?

Has Lartigue steeped over a boundary in taking this images below? Possibly because he has invaded their private space, on the other hand, their faces are not shown, so they are anonymous, does this make it ok.


A bord du Dahu II, Royan, Juillet, 1926
Silver gelatin print
30 x 40 cm
Edition of 20 (accsessed07/07/2018)

I can only imagine that at the time this shot would have been seen as rude. Was it rude for Lartigue to have taken the Image, in the first place? The Images seems to have been taken on a ship, the people in the image could be in an area where nude sunbathing was allowed. But did they know this image was taken?  In my opinion, the Image is poor the composition is in question, and the Image looks like it was made in a hurry, this leads me to think it was taken without the knowledge of the subjects, this put the image down the scale as far as ethics are concerned. I would call these bad manners. So even though the age of Lartigue was a similar age to Kertesz, he seems to be a little lower down the scale as far as manners are concerned. As I am only going off one Image, it would be wrong of me to call his photographic ethics into question and as mention above the subjects is anonymous.

Lartigue Images are similar to that of Kertesz in that they are very humanistic and usually include a woman somewhere in the image. His style is what I would call freestyle or carefree and somehow less refined than Kertesz, and are more in the form of a snapshot than a considered image a lot of his images seem to be taken in the company of friends and in places where people are enjoying life. When viewing the Images, I am reminded of Dench I find the similarities striking. Obviously, it was a different time, but the style is very similar

Changing times, add a few years and ethics and opinions change.

Is the image below better or worse as far as ethics go.

Now that we are in the technological age and the youth have been brought up with computers and the mobile phone capable of taking any picture they choose and sending it to there friends in milliseconds and the almost complete liberation of woman, in the UK at least. I think in this situation it changes things from the time of Kertesz. But again I don’t think it was unethical to take this images, but I do think it was bad manners as in Dench’s case, and I am sure that she wouldn’t have wanted this Image published in the way it has been, that is of course if she was an unknowing party.  If we ask the question that because she is doing something in a public place so do we have every right to capture it? As I am writing this, I am having thoughts of right and wrong and asking myself what Dentch has actually done wrong? The only answer I can come up with is nothing really he has just taken an Image of something that is happening in a public place, so recording what life is like for the youth when on Holliday. These thoughts are a contradiction of what I was saying earlier about bad manners. So to conclude this first part I will say that having bad manners as a photographer is OK because we wouldn’t take anything risky if we bring manners into it. Taking this point of view, you could say that Jacques Henri Lartigue, was ahead of his time.

http://www.peterdench.com/the-british-abroad/DENCH_British_Abroad_Book_FINAL019/(accessed 29/06/18)

Digging a Little Deeper into the Ethics of Photography

So far I have only scratch the service as ethic’s go and I must admit it is not something that I have put much thought into. On assignment two, my original idea was to show the homeless that live in and around Manchester. I caught the train to Manchester arriving at Piccadilly train station, just a short walk to Piccadilly Gardens. I began taking pictures of some of the street people, as soon as I started I had a bad feeling, but I continued, I did ask some for permission and gave them a pound if they were begging. I got a strong set of pictures, but I still had that feeling as if I was doing something wrong. I am sure if I were a reporter that was being paid for the images the compensation would have overcome my bad feeling, especially if the pictures were used for the good of the street people. This brings me to the question when is it ok to take pictures. I have put my previous feelings to one side for this assignment to try to explain and ask the question. Was I wrong to not use my original Images for; it’s two because of bad feelings, or guilt? Was I using the homeless in some way? Would I have been exploiting them? Is it ok because I am not making any money out of the Images? Is that acceptable or is it still exploitation? These are the big question not only does it concern me as an individual but there is a lot of criticism aimed at the large humanitarian charities for using the extreme images, only showing the distress and suffering.

The Image below was taken with full consent. I give her a couple of pounds, but it still didn’t feel right. I didn’t get any names while taking any of the pictures.


The Image below is a homeless man having his hair cut by some barbers doing it for free on the street, This Image was taken without consent, and no money was given. There was what looked like television cameramen there interviewing the homeless. I didn’t feel as bad because they were doing more or less the same as me, but it still didn’t feel right somehow.


The image below was to show the contrast in the have’s and the have-nots. I did tell them that I was going to take the picture, but  I didn’t offer them any money, I waited until they had relaxed before taking the Image, I didn’t feel bad at all taking this Image. I think she felt worse than me.


In my research, I came across Anastasia Taylor-Lind

“It impossible to get to where the crimes are being committed, other than on highly staged and controlled state tours.” (British Journal of photography issue 7867 2018)

Lind decided to approach the subject from a different angle and decided to find and take the pictures of the people that had come through the torment of war and forced the expulsion from there home. Showing the strong, dignified people that they are, not showing them at their lowest ebb of despair, with sorrow but also with strength dignity and with full consent.

I can’t see how using photography in this way could be seen as exploitation. It seems to be a new approach as far as documenting, war and forced expulsion are concerned. Removing them from there distress and showing them as human beings seem to be a refreshing way to show the people and then add their stores, showing them as survivors.

(British Journal of photography issue 7867 2018)


Omayra Sánchez Garzón, Below

When I came across this Image while researching various Photographers, I was distraught to find out that the girl in the Image died shortly after the image was taken. She had been trapped there for three days before she passed. Obvious I wasn’t there, but as I have been discussing ethics in this review I couldn’t pass this one by and ask was it ethical to take this picture?  The photographer was awarded the  World Press Photo of the Year for 1986. It is easy for me to think I wouldn’t or couldn’t take this picture as I am sat here, as I don’t know the full circumstances. I would like to think that I would be to busy trying to get her free than having the time to take photographs, that is easy to say, and when I think about it, I don’t know if I would be a help or a hindrance. I ask my self, has it helped anyone or helped in preventing this from happening again? By showing the Image who has benefited from its publication? Did it generate and motivate people and charities to help in the aftermath of the volcano?

When I viewed the Image below, I felt every emotion especially when I read she was there three days before she passed away.

Below quotes by Don Mc Cullin

Don McCullen You need to get over the moral aspect of photography if you can’t don’t be there. The most important thing is to get great Images that influence change.” (bbc Hard talk 8/10/2015 accessed 11/08/2018)

((By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=366Frank Fournier2559)(accessed 30/8/18)

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures. “- Don McCullin, Sleeping With Ghosts: A Life’s Work in Photography by Don McCullin (Photographer), Mark Haworth-Booth (Introduction), Donald McCullin , ISBN: 0893816590 , Page: 96(accessed 03/08/18)

I have found the Image above one of the most moving, image I have ever seen. Don McCullin didn’t take this picture, but I thought his quote was fitting.

When deciding if you should be making an Image I have come up with the following.  What reason am I taking the image can I rationalize it as being a good reason. Is the subject of the Image going to be or possibly be affected in a good or bad or neither way? What is the Image going to be used for? Is the subject so bad that I will regret taking the Image in ten years time? In the end, the stories need to be told the Images need to be taken someone has to do it and as long as you do it with good intentions even if you need to make money with the images, Then I think our conscience is clear. Was I wrong not using my original Images for assignment two. After applying what I have learned while completing this assignment /review, I can say yes I was wrong. The assignment has somehow put things in perspective, making me challenge my soft approach to some of the ethical issues in photography.

Brian Walski

Still on the subject of ethics. Below is an image that was manipulated by the photographer Brian Walski he was a former staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times the image was sent to the newspaper and was consequently run and used by three newspapers. Until the Image was found to be a composite of two images. Consequently, the photographer was fired by the newspaper and lost his credentials to work as a photographer for a publication again. The director of photography for the Los Angeles Times  Colin Crawford was horrified by the image manipulation done by  Walski. Apparently


Image result for Brian Walski photography soldier image

Image result for Brian Walski photography soldier image

(https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Brian+Walski+photography+soldier+image(accessed 08/09/18))

There have been a lot of images that are changed in photoshop some very minor changes have had severe consequences for the photographer just changing the tone of an image and improving the detail with dodge and burn have resulted in award-winning photographers losing their jobs.

Narciso Contreras recently lost his job for removing a video camera that was visible in the bottom left-hand corner of an image of a Syrian rebel. So from this, we can conclude that the newspapers are taking the photography standards very seriously indeed and want to be represented as being ethical when reporting and documenting a story with Images, and Issue stringent guidelines that only minimal lightning or darkening of an image is acceptable.

Whether these photographers should have lost their job or not is debatable, but the fact remains that some newspapers/magazines do use images that they know have been edited or actually do the editing themselves. I am not sure the newspaper editors that have sacked the Photographers for manipulation of an Image are only sacking them when caught by an outside party. I think we can say that the higher end newspapers and Magazines are trying to maintain some ethical responsibility and as mentioned earlier do have very strict guidelines.

In conclusion regarding ethics, manners and good taste. The First question, should you be taking the Image? If at the time you consider if the image is ethical and will help in the narrative not against the law and won’t damage the reputation of the subject then take the picture. You could ask yourself if this was my Gran would she mind? If the answer is yes don’t take the picture. If you are on the street and zoom in through a window to the back of the room and someone is getting some personal attention should you take the image? The answer has to be no it’s not ethical or in good taste ask your gran if you don’t believe me. If you zoom in to a large window and people are standing in the window with no clothes on obviously having fun, should you take the picture? Yes, they have given up there right to privacy by parading themselves in the window. But It is still bad manners and could be against the Law? I think how the Images is used would be the deciding factor.


Image above by Keven Carter


When viewing an Images, we automatically come to conclusions that are based on assumptions running through our minds at the time of viewing without really finding out the facts. The image above was deemed unethical by some critics basing their criticism on the Image alone.  You can see their point if you believe that the child is still alive and not going to receive any help.  As I understand it, the child was not alone the parents were just out of shot receiving aid from the relieve truck. It is believed the child survived.   So in this instance, the Image was ethical and probably helped others in their situation by narrating the need for help.


I have found this assignment rewarding in that it as made me look at my own ethics as far as photography is concerned it has made me realise that your own feeling is not always the best place to start when it comes to deciding what to shoot. There are so many other factors to take into consideration.  In the assignment, I touched on manipulating Images and how it has had serious consequences for some photographers. I was surprised to find that a Photographer had lost his job simply for removing something that was out of place in the Image, the Item I am referring to was a film camera in the bottom corner of the image. This seems to be a little unfair on the photographer. For myself, I don’t think ethics is a problem as long as I don’t work for a newspaper, for my own work I will rely on my own judgement. I think I will need to reevaluate my manners and taste levels and lower the bar a little otherwise I could be missing some gritty images in the future. The news Papers and magazines seem to have mixed standards, magazines seem to manipulate Images all the time whereas some of the newspapers try to maintain some standards and others don’t, there needs to be a standard that is used across all media, so that only minimal darkening or lightning is permissible.   For myself, I can only make the judgement at the Image is made, as far as manipulation is concerned if the Image is for a newspaper, very unlikely, it would have to be unchanged, no editing would be done if that is what the editor wanted. These are just some of the thought processes that this assignment has brought to mind. It has taught me to reflect on the subject of ethics not only on a personal level but also on a media-wide level. And on reflection, I think the subject of ethics has been a worthwhile assignment it has made me think on a much broader scale, not only for my own work but also the work of others.


(http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Andre-Kertesz.html (accessed 10/09/18))


(https://www.neomodern.com/blog/2017/10/18/meudon-1928-by-andre-kertesz (accessed 08/09/18))

A bord du Dahu II, Royan, Juillet, 1926

Silver gelatin print

30 x 40 cm

Edition of 20 (accsessed07/07/2018)


http://www.peterdench.com/the-british-abroad/DENCH_British_Abroad_Book_FINAL019/ (accessed 29/06/18)


“It impossible to get to where the crimes are being committed, other than on highly staged and controlled state tours.” (British Journal of photography issue 7867 2018)


(British Journal of photography issue 7867 2018)


Don McCullen You need to get over the moral aspect of photography if you can’t don’t be there. The most important thing is to get great Images that influence change.” (bbc Hard talk 8/10/2015 accessed 11/08/2018)


(By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=366Frank Fournier2559)(accessed 30/8/18)

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures. “- Don McCullin, Sleeping With Ghosts: A Life’s Work in Photography by Don McCullin (Photographer), Mark Haworth-Booth (Introduction), Donald McCullin , ISBN: 0893816590 , Page: 96(accessed 03/08/18)

(https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Brian+Walski+photography+soldier+image (accessed 08/09/18))

Image above by Keven Carter



For my personal project

I have been mulling this idea around for some time. It is something I have been planning to do but have not had the motivation, but I think my personal project will give the incentive I needed to take my Idea forward. The town I live in and have lived all my life is an old mill town, Stalybridge was one of the first towns in England to have a steam-powered cotton mill, and it is said that the industrial revolution started in Stalybridge. The first steam cotton mill was constructed in 1776 and transformed the town into one of the first towns of the industrial revolution. The town became very wealthy, and more and more mill was built in the area of about five or six square miles approximately 44 cotton mills were built creating thousands of jobs. The mills needed people the people needed homes, so hundreds of houses were built all over the surrounding area, most of the people that lived in Stalybridge lived in a please called Castle Hall. This brings me to my Idea, I thought it would be a good idea to find people in the town that are from Castle Hall or their parents and or grandparents, and take their portrait, and include a few word of their own with the Image, to link the past history of the old mill town with the town now, mounting the images on hessian that was used before cotton was made and used in the transportation of cotton in hessian bags a sort of a metaphorical link to the past history of the mill town.