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Behind the Scenes: How Conflict Photographs Come To Be

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the have-you-tried-throwing-left-handed? dept.

The Media 178

First time accepted submitter benro03 writes "Airing photojournalism's dirty secret, Italian photographer Ruben Salvadori demonstrates how conflict photography is often staged by the photographers themselves. He spent a significant amount of time in East Jerusalem studying the role that photojournalists play in what the world sees. Ruben is about to graduate with dual majors for a BA in International Relations and Anthropology/Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel." Some commenters on the linked story defend much of what's shown as ordinary aesthetic and editorial decisions; doubtless a parallel documentary could have been shot from a few hundred yards away with an opposite slant.

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Trim your damn URLs (2, Insightful)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680032)

Do we really need "?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+PetaPixel+(PetaPixel)" at the end there, or are you getting paid for this story?

Re:Trim your damn URLs (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680082)

Looks like he just got the URL from the RSS feed (likely because he is subscribed to it). No big deal.

Just another form of show business (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680038)

Especially since the advent of 24 hour news networks. It existed before then, but not with the same voracious, unrelenting appetite.

Re:Just another form of show business (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680222)

Journalists twist and manipulate facts to match their political narrative.

Shocker.

Re:Just another form of show business (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680990)

Journalists twist and manipulate facts to amp the drama, in order to capture eyeballs, gain influence, and garner advertising dollars.

I don't normally do FTFY type posts, but this time it seemed kind of appropriate.

I do (partially) agree with you that the ideologies of management does cloud the waters a little (especially in newspapers), but honestly? When it comes to cable news networks, they have only one overriding ideology - increasing ratings to gain influence, and more importantly, to get more of that almighty dollar bill.

Re:Just another form of show business (1)

rthille (8526) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681468)

There's definitely more ideological influence on some networks than others.

Re:Just another form of show business (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681796)

they have only one overriding ideology - increasing ratings to gain influence, and more importantly, to get more of that almighty dollar bill.

Hmmm...MSNBC's obvious slant and piss poor ratings argue against this. But they do seem to operate by another set of rules than other networks.

Re:Just another form of show business (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681848)

The acronym of their name explains why... they've got patronage from NBC (who is in way too deep financially to pull out now), and Microsoft (whose continued presence is curious at best, and a full-on "WTF are they still doing there!?" at worst.

Re:Just another form of show business (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680394)

Exactly. The reality is there isn't enough significant news to fill an entire 24 hour period so the sensationalism needs to make events bigger than they actually are. Kind of like how there were a number of school shootings in the 1970s, but they were just not played hundreds of times on 24 hour news channels so people tend to think it is only a recent phenomenon.

Re:Just another form of show business (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681010)

A fair portion of what I do for a living involves photographing things in what most people would consider 'conflict zones'.

The reality is that opportunities to photograph anything a news agency would consider interesting in relation to any conflict are few and far between. More often than not it is just not possible to move fast enough, even by helicopter, to get to the fighting while it is still going on unless you are riding along with whomever starts it. Most of it starts fast and ends fast.

Re:Just another form of show business (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681546)

Search for "Pallywood".

Famous Photos (2, Interesting)

OFnow (1098151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680054)

Well, the Famous Photo of WWII of the flag raised on Iwo Jima was staged. Twice. The second one was the one folks have seen. Nothing new here. Move along.

Re:Famous Photos (2)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680170)

I thought that was the case too, but the wikipedia article on the controversy [wikimedia.org] paints a more complex picture. Apparently there is a video of the flag raising that clearly shows it was not staged initially, but there was a second photo that was staged, the "gung-ho shot;" however, no one tried to pass the second photo off as being anything other than a posed shot... so there's a myth that sounds scandalous, but the reality is that it was simply a misunderstanding.

Re:Famous Photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680256)

It's been general practice for photojournalists to pose shots since Matthew Brady in the Civil War, as well as take candids, to try to commuicate what's happening on the battlefield. That this morphs into patriotic jingoism at times can be expected; but the best photojournalists try to keep the message accurate.

that, however, is a far cry from news crews showing up and distributing signs to protestors, and egging them on, as they did in the 1960's, and probably still do today.

Re:Famous Photos (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681040)

news crews showing up and distributing signs to protestors (sic), and egging them on

Oh, I hardly think the media has to resort to yellow journalism to get shots of protesters these days.

Re:Famous Photos (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681170)

Yes, there was an incident with the Occupy Washington protest just the other day where a conservative journalist joined the ranks and tried to stir them up to storm the Smithsonian Air & Space museum which they were protesting based on a military drone exhibit. When he couldn't convince the larger crowd to leave their peaceful picket he and some friends forced their way into the museum then reported that it was protesters. He had the gall to tweet the fact that it was him that had entered the museum...

Mathew Brady (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681670)

Mathew Brady (actually spelled with 1 T) in the American Civil War _is_ about as far back as photojournalism goes.
AFAIK, the cameras of the time required a long enough exposure time that one couldn't take live action shots, so he and his assistants set up some battlefield shots after the fact. Brady's work also includes non-action shots such as portrait photographs of Lincoln.

Re:Famous Photos (2)

benro03 (153441) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680206)

No nothing new at all, BUT did you watch his film? His point isn't that it's occurring but that the majority of people (and I understand the irony) don't know it's not real. Photojournalists and reporters get fired and blacklisted for creating news, so why isn't it happening here? They get paid by the piece and these are clearly faked.

Re:Famous Photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680680)

I don't think you got his point either. He didn't say the photojournalists should be fired, he said they should be conscious that they are, in fact, active in the situations they depict, and not passive. The simple fact that he is there with a gas mask, helmet and big equipment already causes people to behave differently, to "pose".

Photojournalists do what they do because that is what will sell. It is just like a salesman who sells you a crappy piece of hardware saying it is the best thing in the world - it is not really right, ethically, but it is how he earns his living. We should not rely on the pictures to know what is going on, anyway. Without an account of what is really going on even an unstaged picture can be misleading. I blame the editors.

Re:Famous Photos (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681064)

You know, that does work both ways.

By way of example, the recent "Occupy Portland" demonstrations were very public, and very much in the local (and in some cases national) media. Because there was a ton of media coverage, the Portland PD behaved in a very sensitive manner over the whole situation (there were only two arrests, and the police went out of their way to show that the arrests were for vandalism related to spray-painting a police car and someone's building or house, forget which).

If there were no media coverage, they could pretty much behave any way they wanted to.

This is IMHO a result of the television era... something that riot police learned the hard way back in the 1960's, when they discovered that using fire hoses and attack dogs didn't look so good on television to a national audience.

Re:Famous Photos (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681336)

I'm not real sure that you - or anyone else who has posted already - got the entire message.

Every Friday, after noon prayers, there are young people staging a riot or protest. And, every week, after noon prayers, there is a hoard of photographers onhand to "get the shot". We saw (well, some of us saw) the interaction in the video, between the photographers and the rioters. What may be less clear is - if the photographers didn't show up, maybe the young people would find something better to do.

Picture the conversation:
Ishmael: Want to go build a roadblock on Dead End street after prayers?
Mohammed: Why? If I'm going to throw rocks, I'd rather do it in the shade, down at the creek!
Ishmael: But, throwing rocks in the water isn't any form of protest!
Mohammed: Protest? What protest? There is no protest, unless it gets into the news!
Ishmael: That's the point, Brother, to get into the news!
Mohammed: Alright, great. But, there haven't been any photographers on Dead End street for about six months. The only people there are IDF, and I'm not throwing rocks at them. They shoot first, and ask question later, if at all!
Ishmael: Are you a coward? Don't you want to be a martyr for Allah?
Mohammed: Sure, I'm willing to be a martyr, but an unseen martyr isn't much of a martyr, now is he?
Ishmael: Well, you have a point. Want to try getting some beer to bring to the creek?

Re:Famous Photos (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680214)

True. Does not necessarily make it right. The Iwo Jima photos were taken with a manual camera and real film. If you want to make sure you get the shot, I can see staging it. But with today's digital cameras and automatic triggers that can shoot multiple shots every second, I am not so sure staging a shot is necessary except for propaganda.

Re:Famous Photos (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680534)

It's not really true, the real story of that is that there was one posed shot and one that was real. The photo itself was sent over the wire directly after printing before the photographer had even seen it, which was a large part of why there was confusion over that aspect of it. If you take a look at the image from the film reel, if he did stage the actual photo, he did a damned good job at replicating how it really happened.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_the_Flag_on_Iwo_Jima#Publication_and_staging_confusion [wikipedia.org]

Re:Famous Photos (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681144)

Depends on the photographer. Not everyone can capture every pivotal event with perfect composition. Even though I am a fairly handy photographer, I realized pretty quickly that getting the perfect shot takes *work*, even with digital cameras and perfect frame-by-frame HD video to help out.

People and objects get in the way, the lighting could be absolute crap, crowds (and your subjects) ebb and flow in unpredictable patterns, the action could be taking place from an angle that makes the composition look like crap, or there could be a massive distraction in the frame that ruins the whole message being conveyed in the shot (weird but plausible example to prove the point: say you're recording a fist-fight between two political ideologues on the street, but there's a topless young lady in the background).

Sometimes, it can be necessary to 'stage' a still photo to portray a news item. It's a very fine line, though.

Re:Famous Photos (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681604)

say you're recording a fist-fight between two political ideologues on the street, but there's a topless young lady in the background).

Yeah you really messed up that shot of the topless woman. Terrible framing, out of focus...it's a pity.

Re:Famous Photos (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681128)

Nothing new here. Move along.

Just because it's not new does not mean we should "move along." Many people assume that a photograph being published by a news source has been validated to be accurate and objective.

By the way, the WWII shot was never claimed to not be a staged photograph, recreating an event that apparently did occur and for which there was video footage.

Re:Famous Photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37681484)

I was in the first gulf conflict - Desert Storm. The destroyer I was serving on had a TV news team on board and when we discovered a mine that required blowing up we would circle it for hours until the live broadcast in the UK(six o'clock news) could show the boys blowing something up. Most of the time the reported position was no where near where we were. Its all circus nowadays and probably was well before but the news was not 24/7 with the need to show "as it happens" reporting.

Simple rule of thumb (4, Informative)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680212)

All photography is staged unless the image has been captured unintentionally or accidentally.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (4, Insightful)

justdiver (2478536) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680354)

I was going to say that if those in the photo are unaware the picture was being taken then it isn't staged, but on second thought, the framing of the photo, the time at which the photo is taken, the angle and placement of the photo, what is cropped out or left in the frame, all of these things are left up to the photographer to decide. So yes, I would agree that even photos where the participants are unaware the picture is being taken can be called staged. The photographer is staging the photo by leaving our or including certain details.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680978)

Yes. Always this. Photography isn't 'reality' - it's a portion thereof. That is pretty much the whole point of being a photographer - to determine what portion of reality you want to capture to create a certain effect. Whether it's cropping the souvenir stand at a National Park or tightening the crop onto a teenage 'rioter' and ignoring the rest of the pastoral street scene, it's what photographer's DO. The other stuff, the camera, lens, exposure, post processing is just details.

The problem is that people in general think that photography is canonical and 'real'. They need to get outside more, methinks.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681114)

It's not just photographers who crop and frame. There are also those interviews with people (random or not) where journalists only publishing the quotes/soundbites that match their agenda of the day.

On a lighter note, here are more examples of what editing can do:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekXxi9IKZSA [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmkVWuP_sO0 [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T5_0AGdFic [youtube.com]

Re:Simple rule of thumb (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680378)

Even when not staged there is always some bias and complexity. Take for instance the "looting" vs "finding food" photos in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The "finding food" photo showed two white people wading in chest high water with food whereas the "looting" photo showed a black man with food wading in chest high water. According to the "looting" photographer he labeled it looting because people were going into a flooded grocery store and taking things. The "finding food" photographer said people were taking food that had floated out of a flooded grocery store. In reality everyone was technically stealing food for survival but there are different perspectives.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37681050)

Food floating has been lost. Whether it's from a store, a truck, a house. A category 5 hurricane has a specialized subject of redistributing whatever the hell it likes. No one is going to claim items torn out of their original places. In the case of a disaster, it's clearly a free for all. Breaking into a building to loot it doesn't sound so good when it's freely floating around. Of course, after a few days of no food in a disaster zone, there are no rules that'll stop people from taking what they can get from anywhere that has stuff needed for survival. But that doesn't extend to consumer electronic goods many, and that means mostly black people, were stealing. Last time I checked, HDTVs were not edible.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681488)

The photos exhibit the complexity of bias. All people were taking food that didn't belong to them but with a flooded store, pretty much all the food would have need lost due to spoilage. However did the black man go into the store because all the floating food had been taken? It's not clear. Would the white people gone into the store if they didn't find floating food? Adding to the debate is it's not clear whether any of those photographed broke into the store. There was lots of looting that occur in disasters but there is a question of whether these people were guilty of it.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681530)

Even when not staged there is always some bias and complexity.

Perhaps the most famous case of this is the photo of a Viet Cong prisoner being executed [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680580)

pics and it didn't happen

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680598)

I don't know in your country but in mine (France) if a journalist publishes pictures that are staged like this one and passes them as depicting a real event, he would probably be fired.

I think that whet he depicts, are not photojournalists but people selling propaganda pictures. On a given event you will not just see journalists taking picture but also commercial photographers that make images for arts and profit but not necessarily for information.

Who are these photographers ? journalists looking for information or photographers looking for good images ?

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680660)

I don't know in your country but in mine (France) if a journalist publishes pictures that are staged like this one and passes them as depicting a real event, he would probably be fired.

Journalism is a global business and works the same everywhere. I seriously doubt the photographer would be treated differently in France, as the papers there and elsewhere buy and sell photographs from all over.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

gfreeman (456642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681280)

Journalism is a global business and works the same everywhere.

Wrong on so many levels. For example there's no 1st Amendment in France. Privacy laws in France are also way stricter than in the US, so photojournalists (including "paparazzi") have many rules about what they cannot photograph.

I suggest you rethink your statement that XXXXXX is a global business and works the same everywhere. (Substitute a variety of global businesses into XXXXXX and you'll see how silly your statement is).

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681860)

Journalism is a global business and works the same everywhere.

Wrong on so many levels. For example there's no 1st Amendment in France. Privacy laws in France are also way stricter than in the US, so photojournalists (including "paparazzi") have many rules about what they cannot photograph.

I suggest you rethink your statement that XXXXXX is a global business and works the same everywhere. (Substitute a variety of global businesses into XXXXXX and you'll see how silly your statement is).

Hmm. Okay, can you give me some examples to help put this in context? What I'm interested in knowing is if those privacy laws affect which photos taken out of country are legal to run. Thanks.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

rev0lt (1950662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681888)

I guess the parent post was referring to the fact that the news agencies are global news agencies - a photo staged by a photographer in Afghanistan can end up in media all over the world. Many news outlets have correspondants, but even those buy news and content from the global agencies. And yes, that includes France, and many other countries with strict laws about that kind of procedure. There is a somewhat acceptable code of ethics followed by many professionals (http://www.nppa.org/professional_development/business_practices/ethics.html), but at the end of the day, it's like any other business - it's the dramatic results that make money, and not accuracy.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680992)

Then the only thing allowed in France is the Google Street Maps car?

I rather doubt that.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

rev0lt (1950662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681898)

And Carla Bruni (staged) nude photos. Not that I'm complaining or somethin'...

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680902)

All photography is staged unless the image has been captured unintentionally or accidentally.

Whether or not that's true depends very much on your definition of "staged". I doubt your definition agrees with what most people mean when they speak of staged photographs. "Staging" to most people means manipulating that which is in front of the camera rather than the shot itself, in which case things like framing and focusing would not be considered "staging". Shots manipulated after the fact would be "doctored" rather than "staged", while shots that misrepresent the facts through omission would be called "deceptive" or something along those lines.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681016)

No, he means staged the same way you do - just different connotations. The act of putting your eye into a camera's viewfinder 'stages' the scene. You decide what to include / exclude - same as if you cloned out something in Photoshop. The act is the same, only the technical details differ. That is exactly the point of the OP's statement.

Re:Simple rule of thumb (2)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681212)

No, he means staged the same way you do - just different connotations.

No he doesn't. I define "staging" as manipulating the scene itself while he defines "staging" as part of the intentional act of taking a picture (any picture).

The act of putting your eye into a camera's viewfinder 'stages' the scene.

Again not what most people mean when they speak of staged photographs. Putting your eye into a camera's viewfinder is a means of framing the scene, but it certainly doesn't stage it.

Drop the dead donkey (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680262)

Sometimes this kind of humour just gives people Ideas I guess..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ2bvR3BT_g

I've seen this before (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680286)

Pallywood anyone?

Re:I've seen this before (2)

ichthus (72442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680912)

I came here to point out the same thing. Great documentary.

Re:I've seen this before (0)

JabrTheHut (640719) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680968)

Yeah. Whenever I see footage of Palestinians being shot or houses being bulldozed, I think 'staged.' Even if it's grudgingly admitted to be true later on.

Lately all kinds of things have been staged - mosques burning, cemeteries vandalized, "price tag" messages - all staged, of course, as Israelis would never do any of these things...

Re:I've seen this before (1)

ichthus (72442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681526)

Muslims burn more mosques than any other group -- they kill more muslims than any other group. Their own doctrine mandates the killing of anyone who draws a picture or acts the part of Mohammad. They issue death sentences [wikipedia.org] for blasphemy. They issue death sentences [dailymail.co.uk] for leaving Islam. Show me any other religion/government (Islam is both) that holds these same policies. Israel/Judaism certainly doesn't. The fact that both the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque both reside in Jerusalem (and are not regularly burned) only adds weight to the documented proof of staging presented in Pallywood.

But, by all means, continue buy the narrative. Presenting fact is islamophobia, and dissent is extremism.

Objectivity? (1)

CityZen (464761) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680316)

In human matters, there is usually no such thing as objectivity. Unless you can see into the hearts of all people as well as completely understand the whole context, then everything is subjective. Even if a picture or video completely reveals exactly what visibly happens, that's only one side to the story. You can judge the actions, but you may never know all the circumstances.

Re:Objectivity? (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680866)

Objectivity isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. Personal biases are to be expected and people try to account for them. Manipulation, deception, and propaganda, on the other hand, are unacceptable in a journalist. Every single one of the photo journalists in this pictures should get fired. They don't just fail to be objective, their images are inflaming war and getting people killed.

Always has been (1)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680358)

This has been true since the days of the Johnstown Flood in PA. Many of the "horrific images" were actually staged. Sounds absurd but it was that the event was of a magnitude most of the world was not able to easily comprehend at that time. The photo's made it much easier for the public to really grasp and feel for the victims of the flood.

Been going on for years... (5, Interesting)

bobaferret (513897) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680370)

I used to frequent Medellin, Colombia in the 90's after my mother moved there to teach English. This was during the period of time where there was a large amount of violence due to Pablo Escobar and company. Lot's of bombings etc. (Side note... Bombs happen on the quarters of the Hour, thunder any other time)... We we're driving by a recently bombed, mafia owned, apt. building from night before, and noticed some of the CNN crew from our hotel in the parking lot of the building closely surrounded by about 12 people. The camera guy was on his knees. The rest of the lot was pretty much empty. A cleanup crew here or there. The reporter was on the outside of the circle directing folks around. Later that night, we happen to see the footage produced.... it was a riot... No seriously... CNN portrayed the 12 people as a massive riot of frightened locals in complete panic. They weren't even from the building.... Mafia families who pay $1,000,000 for an apt. in that building don't tend to stick around, much less dress like laborers. Nothing like being a rural mid-western teenager spending his summers in a third world country.

Re:Been going on for years... (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680712)

Far, far, FAR longer than that. Almost since the dawn of photography in fact, let alone the advent of the war correspondent as a profession. The NY Times (no registration required, for once) has a rather interesting tale of what might be the first instance of this in three parts, part one here [nytimes.com] , about whether or not Roger Fenton manipulated a post-battle scene for a more interesting image. The image in question was taken during the Crimean war, in 1855 - over a century and a half ago.

Re:Been going on for years... (1)

bobaferret (513897) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681168)

I didn't end up going into Journalism, but took a number of classes associated with the University Of Missouri School of Journalism. And one of the things that was beaten into you was the ethics. I've never been able to understand how much corruption really is in the system vs. what every Journalism student is taught. It's amazing and sad really. That saddest part is that the corruption is considered normal, and the unbiased reporting is what really makes the news.

Re:Been going on for years... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680724)

This sort of thing has been going on since the invention of the photograph.

During the US civil war they would clean up the bodies (they start to smell after a day or two and attract bugs...). But the photographers would show up 1-2 weeks after. No bodies. You cant print/sell that... So they would go to the local town or local army barracks (either side) and hire bodies. They would lay out on the field of the recent battle and 'look dead'. Most civil war photos with bodies in them were like this.

Been going on for over 100 years.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680954)

Actually, this has been going on since the invention of photography. Since then many photographers and "photojournalists" have publicly admitted that they have staged or created events out of thin air to film and report on. Numerous newsreels and adventure shorts depict obviously staged and obviously fake events, some of which include wanton and sometimes wholesale torture, maiming and killing of people and animals, and destruction of land and property. There are thousands more that are not so obviously faked. There isn't any profit to be made from reporting the facts. They get money and glory from spicing things up with fake and staged events to report on.

This is the dirty secret of journalism, not just "photojournalism".

Remember the Maine?

Re:Been going on for years... (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681706)

Some of CNN's "live coverage" from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War was shot in a studio [youtube.com] . That's not to say CNN is the only press agency doing this. From what friends and relatives who've worked in journalism tell me, this happens to differing extents pretty much everywhere. The truth is quite often mundane and boring, and needs to be spruced up to make it worthy of airing so people won't change the channel.

Pictures are not that much different than words... (4, Informative)

Gavin Scott (15916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680372)

The Journalist observes and then writes words that try to communicate his/her understanding of the situation.

The Photojournalist observes and then takes pictures that try to capture the essence of the situation as he/she understands it.

If you don't want someone else interpreting and summarizing for you, then go there yourself.

We read and view the work of journalists because we want to understand but we don't want to do all the raw data collection and reduction ourselves. To the degree that journalists exhibit biases of one sort or another, we try to chose sources that exhibit similar biases to our own such that their interpretation and analysis will likely be the same (or at least similar) to our own. When the bias is for sensationalism, that's simply not journalism.

G.

Re:Pictures are not that much different than words (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680508)

The issue occurs when a photojournalist comes into a situation with a per-conceived idea and then slants the photos to support that preconception. That is when they cross the line from reporting news to creating propaganda. Take a photo from the right angle and it looks like 20 soldiers are firing at a few kids when just out of frame there are a couple hundred youths with rocks and slingshots.The message the photojournalist wants to send is that the soldiers are overreacting and oppressing the kids. The reality being that they are far outnumbered and in a much more dangerous situation.

There is a huge difference between summarizing and slanting. I want the whole story so I can draw my own conclusions and not just the story the reporter/photographer wants me to see.

Re:Pictures are not that much different than words (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680686)

There is a huge difference between summarizing and slanting.

If you have some sort of positive evidence of this happening you absolutely should bring it up. The problem here is that the TFA author doesn't, he just sees photographers lining up shots, and talking to the subjects, and makes the leap that this is, perforce, distortion. I just don't think he understands how photography works.

I want the whole story so I can draw my own conclusions and not just the story the reporter/photographer wants me to see.

If the conflict is something like Israel/Palestine, taking place over 60 years in a country thousands of miles away, involving entire nations of people, of whom you've maybe only met two or three representatives, you're simply not going to be able to come to a useful conclusion on the basis of newspaper columns and photos. An unfortunate, and much more real, problem with mass news media is that it convinces you it can supply you with the information required to bring you to a good conclusion, simply by watching enough TV and reading enough news, when it really can't.

Re:Pictures are not that much different than words (3, Insightful)

tincho_uy (566438) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681228)

If you want a more comprehensive view supporting this guy's work, check out Pallywood. You'll see it's all staged.

Re:Pictures are not that much different than words (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681002)

And sometimes, people will just produce whatever they get paid the most. I think that is one of the points that was being made, dramatic photos sell and photographers will stage them to make a buck.

That is a far cry from communicate one's understanding of a situation. I agree with your assessment that photographers and journalists can only report on what they understand to be the truth. But it appears that the truth isn't even being shown here, some people are justifying their existence at a non-event by creating photographs that sell. This isn't about a personal point of view, it's about creating a viewpoint that isn't even real.

Bravo to Ruben Salvadori for bringing a more accurate representation of was really going on to the public.

Simple posing (0)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680400)

Of course those people pose for photographers they know that that's an effective way of sending their message.

Author is late for common sense (1)

foma84 (2079302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680412)

Author discusses potographers being biased, right?
There is no such thing as being objective in information. The only honest stance a medium can take is to clearly state it's bias.
A photographer is biased just for covering a situation. Why isn't he covering something else? Why did he choose to cover that event instead of another?

Author is some decades late for common sense. Maybe the only meaningful/interesting thing he states is that photographers are part of the events, modifing the way people act. Also, the way the author states it, they are modifing the way people act in relation to the photographers. Even tho i can imagine ways where things go different (e.g. cops going rampage, since there's no coverage, and such)

Also, his UNstated point is: SOME photographers are muslim, so they are probably siding with the Palestinians.

+1 for the editor for TFS.

Inane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680426)

Inane.

Unsurprising (1)

camir (2481586) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680440)

This is unsurprising. Consider photos of crowds of protesters. They can be framed "just so" to make the group of people fill the whole frame, giving the impression of a large protest, or they can be shot from a greater distance or a different angle, to make it seem like a small gang of losers.

In independent photojournalism, I expect the bias to be the photographer's own. In bigger news organizations, the bias is whatever the editor wants. I imagine the editor's bias depends on what he thinks his viewers want to see, because everyone loves to have his prejudice confirmed.

Should be obvious (3, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680446)

Cameras lie. Photography is an artform and its basically impossible to create an objective photograph.

  • Even if we make the usual assumptions for photojournalists (they don't montage photos, they don't get too fancy in the darkroom...
  • There's a frame. You can't see the action around a frame in context, wether this context is a guy off camera with a gun, or a guy signing a treaty 40 years ago.
  • The lens has selective focus, that its lens always distorts the space that's photographed. Two subjects who appear quite close might in fact be rather far away. People who appear to be able to see each other may not actually have a vantage on each other in the actual space.
  • Useable news photographs require acceptable lighting conditions. You can't shoot a night battle with a flash.
  • If the photographer didn't communicate with the subject, he probably wouldn't have any photographs that actually demonstrated the conflict.

What do you want? Do you want to feel like you're there, experiencing the action? If that's the case, then the photographer is pretty much going to have to stage everything, because real conflicts generally don't yield photogenic angles, or give the photographer a way of capturing both sides in a way that makes the conflict "real" from the perspective of someone looking at the pictures. Real war footage is boring as hell, it doesn't remotely capture the experience of being there, and the only way you can stand it or make any sense of it is with aggressive editing and narration, which has the potential to recontextualize everything.

Do you want the truth? All the photographer can tell you is what he saw, and if he only gives you the photos he took. Reporting is epistolary: somebody saw something, they are now telling you about it, you're relying on their account. Photographs are part of their account, they are not separate, "real" things that are somehow more reliable than someone's testimony.

Re:Should be obvious (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680568)

Photography is an artform and its basically impossible to create an objective photograph.

This sentence would mean exactly the same thing without the word "basically".

Re:Should be obvious (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680720)

No, it's complexly possible to create an objective photograph. It's very complex, so people stick to the basic level impossible.

Re:Should be obvious (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680820)

You can create an objective photo, like in a lab experiment where the background is graduated and the subject is plain, but even then it's only objective within the very narrow parameters of a particular experiment -- lab photography of a bullet splitting an apple can find its way into a montage or a music video, where it somehow conveys violence, because divorced from the lab context the image takes on new meaning.

Re:Should be obvious (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680626)

Wow, I must being having a stroke or something, very ESL...

Re:Should be obvious (1)

dorre (1731288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680778)

Personally I think a picture can be described as objective if it depicts what the photographer saw or feel he saw.

Cameras do not lie. Photographers take pictures to pass on a message. This is not a lie nor a truth. It's what the photographers message and should be treated no differently than a written article. The photo journalist's task is not to truthfully document what he sees, it is to provide illustrations to an article.

Re:Should be obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680892)

Yes, everytime someone relays information, they introduce a distortion owing to their unique perspective (which means everything from their particular knowledge to their bias). However, we can certainly characterize some information relays as being mostly correct/truthful, others as being less truthful, and others still as being outright lies.

If a journalist sees 12 people throwing bottles at police, they can honestly write "A group of protesters threw bottles at the police." However if the journalist writes "A massive clash between protesters and police forces erupted in the city" that would be a needlessly exaggeration, and if the journalist writes "Thousands of protesters attacked police" that would be an outright lie. Similarly if a photo-journalist takes a picture of the 12 people and the police (in the same frame, from a reasonable distance), that's fine. Taking a carefully zoomed and framed shot to make the protesters look very menacing is stretching the truth a bit. Staging a shot with a new group of people is lying. Using photographic tricks to make situations look different (e.g. using forced perspective to make opponents look like they are right beside each other) is lying. Just as one can say something that is technically true and yet functionally lying (by taking advantage of language ambiguities, withholding the information you know is being requested, etc.), one can lie with photographs that are of course just a record of the photons patterns that were truly there.

My point is that while we should be aware of the fact that bias colors ever kind of information delivery, that doesn't mean that all information delivery is created equal. There is an honest way to report information and there are dishonest ways to report information. We should not accept photo-journalists who cross the line and actually stage scenes, or distort events through clever camera tricks.

(Of course there can be a difference between art and photo-journalism. It's fine for an artist to stage something if that's what they want. But if you present a photograph as being a factual and fair representation of what happened at a given time and place (and that is the implicitly statement that goes along with photographs attached to news reporting), then you are definitely lying if in fact you distorted the situation in order to obtain the photograph.)

Says virtually nothing. (1, Insightful)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680476)

When there are conflicts being photographed, there are conflict photographers?

The pretense of the article seemed to imply that the events or photos were "staged" or something by the journalists. Nothing of the sort was happening in any of these photos.

Are we supposed to be shocked to believe that there were photojournalists on the scene when these photos were taken?

Inane.

Re:Says virtually nothing. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681090)

Did you actually look at the video or are you just barking? He clearly shows photographers interacting with the 'rioters' - smiling, joking, moving about. Much more the staged movie set than a happenstance 'conflict' photo.

The take home point is that you get an entirely different feel for the scene when you step back and show the photographers taking pictures of the 'conflict' scene. It's visceral. It's actually pretty well done. Go look at TFA.

Re:Says virtually nothing. (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681318)

Yes. I did the entire video.

So what if the was talking or joking with the rioters? Does that make the pictures invalid or untrue?

It's not like he was "directing" the people in the pictures. Or bringing props. Or putting the people into poses. Or "staging" the photographs.

If a rioter talks to a protester before or after a picture is taken or an incident occurs, that's wrong somehow?

He's acting like it's a crime for a photographer to be on a riot scene!

Re:Says virtually nothing. (2)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681674)

No, the author of the video is doing no such thing. The article author was adding unnecessary spin. The video author was pointing out that many "action" shots are posed (not necessarily by the photographer). Because there are photographers there the individuals involved put on a show, even when not much was going on. The video author/photographer's point was that photographers in many conflict areas sometimes are in the middle of legitimate moments of high drama, but often there is also low drama staged for their benefit. The mere presence of a cadre of professional-looking photographers causes the observed to undertake a behavioral change which can, in many cases, result in photos that look like they (the photographed) are engaged in some confrontational situation, when really they are just waiting around and chest thumping, hoping for something to happen. Thus, unsuccessful riots by a very few individuals result in stunning pictures that suggest much more in the minds of readers and viewers. The photographers and rioters both must have something to do in the down time between the moments of high drama, I suppose.

Further, he states in the video quite clearly that he wants people to realize that these photographs are taken by people with agendas, participating in a process, taking pictures of people with agendas, and that sometimes those agendas come together in ways that create images of action and conflict which don't really exist in that moment and in that time, and the public need to be aware that photographers influence situations by their presence and that things occur off-frame; that photo framing may radically alter a photo's context thus altering the images as conveyed.

In the photo journalism industry this is not news, but for the public who often take images at face value this rare glimpse of things can offer quite a disconnect. It can be shocking to be reminded to view things with an overly critical eye, and I think the photo journalism industry would have to tighten things up a bit if the public at large paid more attention to and was, on the whole, more critical of these kinds of issues.

Re:Says virtually nothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37681586)

Do you know how we know you didn't watch his video at all?

Must be nice to believer everything you see and read is on the up and up. Such a wonderful fantasy!

amazing market in action (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680488)

when there is a market for conflict images, "conflict images" will be produced to satisfy that demand.

The History Channel Staged WWII (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680664)

The History Channel Staged WWII

Sometimes it is more than just a picture (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680828)

Sometimes there's a full blown Hollywood style production done for journalists.
Google the term "Pallywood"
I'll give you an example: http://youtu.be/t_B1H-1opys?t=4m15s

Lost my faith (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680852)

I can't bring myself to say adequately how dishearteningly this is. Between the two different accounts of Occupy Wallstreet I saw this weekend* and seeing this today? Why the hell did I go to school to be part of the media?

*Ranged from glorious freedom supporters to hedonistic sex crazed drug addled hoodlums that need sent off to Iraq to fight if they have nothing better to do. Dear god I wish I was joking about that last one.

CNN's war crimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37680854)

Okay now just stand real still while i pour this burning white phosphorus on you.

While you do what?!

Dont worry, the pictures are going to be totally worth it and besides i hear it washes right off with a little water. Now just stand real still, I dont want to spill any on me......

Follow the money (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#37680884)

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about what happens when the money runs out. Exchange harsh words, create nice pictures, have a few of the sheep kill a few other sheep and the money starts flowing again. From the US, and from Saudi, respectively.

Re:Follow the money (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681160)

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about what happens when the money runs out. Exchange harsh words, create nice pictures, have a few of the sheep kill a few other sheep and the money starts flowing again. From the US, and from Saudi, respectively.

And here we have it folks. Six thousand years of conflict distilled into three profound sentences. And here on Slashdot!

Give bytesex a hand!

Re:Follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37681506)

>Six thousand years of conflict

You mean 60: 60-years of conflict.

Re:Follow the money (1)

burris (122191) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681278)

It's all about land.

Selective omission (1)

JabrTheHut (640719) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681032)

There seems to be a bit of selective omission that happens as well. I know someone who was astonished when he learned that there were white kids looting alongside the brown and black kids in London. Apparently all the footage he saw in the US omitted the white kids...

I've seen old news befre (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681134)

but going all the way back to the US Civil War and Mathew Brady is really pushing the envelope of staleness.

It's so typical Middle-East... (1)

Ebbesen (166619) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681254)

This page shows a lot of staged "tragedies" from the adversaries of Israel:

http://zombietime.com/reuters_photo_fraud/

Perhaps the most interesting thing is, that Reuters, Associated Press and more keep buying the pictures, apparently with no quality control.

Re:It's so typical Middle-East... (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681786)

The photo"journalists" have basically been part of the propaganda arm of the Palestinians for years.

Israel may have military might and truth behind them, but the Muslims have a much better PR machine, and they're willing to have their own kids killed just to score those PR points. How do you fight a PR war against that?

/. editors do same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37681274)

Half the attacks on /. editors is for the same slant in editing submissions. Not sure if even posting this submission is a way for timothy to say that "everyone does it" or a lapse in judgment.

Doubtless, one of the biggest weasel words (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#37681924)

Doubtless, when you see it in use you KNOW that a person is trying to claim something that he wishes to be true but can't even be bothered to get the simplest anecdote or anon post to support it. Doubtless the other side does the same. No proof, not even a hint but we nonetheless can't doubt it.

A weasel word if ever there was one.

Remember that story about the "Kraken". That is very similar, in science an extra-ordinary claim should have extra-ordinary evidence. Doubtless is the word of religious freaks and others who think evidence is something only the other side got to bother with.

Doubtless Timothy has posted numerous slanted posts based on faked photo's and instead of questioning them with this evidence (and it is hardly the first time evidence of outright lies have been published) he just goes "oh but the other side does the same" with no evidence.

Facts... I suppose they only matter if they support your point of view.

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