Interview: Michael Kamber on Photojournalism Ethics and the Altering of Images

Interview: Michael Kamber on Photojournalism Ethics and the Altering of Images

“Recently, he took the initiative to create an exhibition at the Bronx Documentary Center titled Altered Images, which focuses on exposing documentary photography that has been staged, manipulated, or faked. We spoke to him to learn more about the current state of ethics in photojournalism and where things are headed.”

beforeafter

The enclosed is an image that will be the subject of the Bronx Documentary Center's upcoming exhibition Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography as well as other related programming. The BDC makes no representations nor extends any rights as to use of this image by another party. Basra, Iraq March 30, 2003 Photo by Brian Walski Representation: The photograph, taken in the earliest days of the Iraq invasion, shows a British soldier warning a group of Iraqi civilians to take cover from nearby fire. First published on the cover page of the Los Angeles Times, the image also ran in the Chicago Tribune and the Hartford Courant. Reality: The photo is a composite of two images taken seconds apart.  After the Hartford Courant published the image, a Courant employee noticed a duplication of civilians in the background. The Los Angeles Times confronted Walski, who confessed to having digitally merged the two photographs to improve the composition.  Walski was immediately fired for violating the newspaper's code of ethics. In an apology to the TImes, Walski said:

The enclosed is an image that will be the subject of the Bronx Documentary Center’s upcoming exhibition Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography as well as other related programming. The BDC makes no representations nor extends any rights as to use of this image by another party.
Basra, Iraq
March 30, 2003
Photo by Brian Walski
Representation: The photograph, taken in the earliest days of the Iraq invasion, shows a British soldier warning a group of Iraqi civilians to take cover from nearby fire. First published on the cover page of the Los Angeles Times, the image also ran in the Chicago Tribune and the Hartford Courant.
Reality: The photo is a composite of two images taken seconds apart. After the Hartford Courant published the image, a Courant employee noticed a duplication of civilians in the background. The Los Angeles Times confronted Walski, who confessed to having digitally merged the two photographs to improve the composition.
Walski was immediately fired for violating the newspaper’s code of ethics. In an apology to the TImes, Walski said: “I have always maintained the highest ethical standards throughout my career and cannot truly explain my complete breakdown in judgment at this time.”

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