Ethics of the Image

Ethics of the Image – Tate Zoom Discussion

12.11.2020 19:00 – 20:00

Notes I took during the panel discussion. Most of the discussion took place between three participants

Anthony Luvera – Artist, writer, photographer

Jennie Ricketts – Former Observer picture editor

Dr. Lauren Walsh – Author

My notes try to summarise what I took from each speaker. Not all the remarks were said in the order they are written here as each participant spoke more than once

Anthony Luvera

Ethical photojournalism requires empathy, and a collaborative approach between the photographer and the subject. There needs to be clarity over who gains from the project and what happens when the project is complete. Questions over power, agency, authorship and consent need to be clearly identified and addressed.

He is in favour of slower journalism, with more scope for agreement between photographer and subject. Ethical photography requires openness and honesty in the photographer’s approach

Dr. Lauren Walsh

She wrote ‘Conversations on Conflict Photography’ in response to one of her students asking not to be confronted with images of famine as they did not want to be put in a bad mood when they had a nice evening planned. After an initial response that this was a very selfish reaction, she realised it was also not unreasonable, and followed closely to Susan Sontag’s remarks about compassion fatigue in ‘On Photography’. Most people will at some time just skip over a distressing image.

Mentioned Ron Haviv photograph of Serbian paramilitaries after the murder of three civilians. Haviv said he aimed the image primarily at politicians and not the general public, as a means of getting some action to prevent the conflict from becoming worse. Haviv saddened that his image did not have the impact he hoped for but eventually it became part of the impetus to set up the International Criminal Court.

Jennie Ricketts

Mentioned a Tom Stoddart image from Sudan in 1998 as an ethical photograph, and an example of art informing photojournalism. Mentioned Peter Hugo in Amercian Suburb X as an example of photojournalism informing art, and that Hugo took a different approach to Luvera, involving less collaboration.

Photojournalism reports facts and art implies freedom of expression.

A picture editor acts as a buffer or mediator between the photographer and the reader or viewer

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