10 May 2013

What's Truth Got To Do WIth It?

Chechnya, 1996- Ruins of central Grozny.
Photograph © James Nachtwey.

Just in time for the Image Ethics symposium at Northwestern comes this discussion at Spiegel Online on the ethics of post-production enhancement of images. I have said this here before: this is not a new issue. If you watch the documentary War Photographer, for instance, you see Nachtwey and his photo editors engaged in extended, detailed discussions about how to adjust the lighting in the image I've lifted above as they prepare it for publication. I think too much of this trades on the philosophically naive idea that photographs simply record; that should be replaced with a serious discussion of how photography is used to communicate and, then, about the institutional entities (agencies, foundations, media outlets, etc.) that structure such communication.

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