PhoJo: An intro to ethical & legal considerations

Photojournalists are witnesses and documenters of history, and journalistic photography is an important agent of social change.

South African Kevin Carter photographed a public execution, known as “necklacing” in the mid-1980s. He later said of his photographs: “I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing. But then people started talking about those pictures … then I felt that maybe my actions hadn’t been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing to do.”

Eddie Adams’ and Nick Ut’s images questioned growing public unease with the actions of American and South Vietnamese troops in the Vietnam war. But Adams insisted that photographs should not be judged by their shocking or gruesome nature. Viewers should ask themselves, “How do you know you wouldn’t have pulled the trigger yourself?”

Photographers are journalists – they know the facts of each story they’re covering and recognise and translate the most newsworthy elements into one, striking image.

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