Debating the Ethics of Those Creepy McCain Photos

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When photographer <a title=”Jill Greenberg” href=”” target=”_blank”>Jill Greenberg</a>’s editors at the<em> Atlantic </em>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 <a title=”second set of photos” href=”” target=”_blank”>second set of photos</a> 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 <a title=”freaked” href=”” target=”_blank”>freaked</a>
<a title=”out” href=”” target=”_blank”>out</a>.</p>
<p>Were her actions ethical? <a title=”A recent episode of <I>On the Media</I>” href=”″ target=”_blank”>A recent episode of <i>On the Media</i>
</i>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 <a title=”Platon” href=”” target=”_blank”>Platon</a>, who captured Ann Coulter on the cover of <i>Time</i> 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.</p>
<p>You can take a look at the photos in question, along with some other great (and potentially questionable) shots <a title=”in a slideshow” href=”” target=”_blank”>in a slideshow</a> accompanying the episode transcript.</p>

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