Debating the Ethics of Those Creepy McCain Photos

12/4/2008 1:29:32 PM

Tags: Media, photojournalism, photography, journalistic integrity, media ethics, Jill Greenberg, John McCain, The Atlantic, On the Media

the AtlanticWhen photographer Jill Greenberg’s editors at the Atlantic asked her to photograph John McCain for the magazine's October issue, she swallowed her distaste and delivered the benevolent-looking images they sought. But she couldn’t cast her disgust aside, so she snapped a second set of photos that better captured her own feelings for McCain. Compared to the warm, well-lit portraits that ended up in the magazine, her alternative shots make McCain look...well...kind of evil. Greenberg posted the photos to her website, and remained unapologetic when her editors freaked out.

Were her actions ethical? A recent episode of On the Media chats with Greenberg and other photographers about the often murky question of integrity in photojournalism. Greenberg suggests that in some situations, the most ethical way to portray her subjects may not always be the most flattering. Photographer Platon, who captured Ann Coulter on the cover of Time looking, in interviewer Bob Garfield’s estimation, "like a blond praying mantis," agrees. For him, a photographer’s duty isn’t to represent subjects as they’d prefer, but to interpret them, to “pull people out of their reality and into our reality.” Greenberg further justifies unflattering photos (perhaps less convincingly) with the contention that editors sometimes demand them, even asking photographers to deliberately mislead their subjects.

You can take a look at the photos in question, along with some other great (and potentially questionable) shots in a slideshow accompanying the episode transcript.



Related Content

Mothers of Children Born of Rape in Rwanda Speak Out

How would you feel about your child if he or she was conceived when you were raped? 15 years after t...

Being Good: It’s Harder than You Think

Let’s go out on a limb, but not too far, and assume that most people want to behave ethically. Bring...

Nick Brandt’s Ethereal Wild Animal Portraits

In a digital world where photography has become accessible to so many, it takes a special talent to...

A Show of Riveting, Diverse Photojournalism

Pictures of the Year International opens its 2009 exhibit this weekend in Los Angeles. Preview the r...

Content Tools
RSS




Post a comment below.

 



Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!