Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Can Photographs Have Influence?

FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER Jill Greenberg was hired to shoot images of John McCain for the Atlantic Monthly magazine.

Greenberg, a hard-core Democrat, decided to create images of McCain that portrayed him as old and sinister. She lit him with a harsh light, and shot the image from low, creating deep shadows and intensity.

Is that wrong? Should she have made him look good, maybe retouched his red eyes? Or is it her job of the photojournalist to present the subject as the photographer believes is most fitting?

27 comments:

bethany barton said...

I would definiely say she crossed the line with this one. As a photographer myself, i'm a little shocked. At first I thought she was kinda clever for trying to get her opinion into the press, but after looking at her photoshopped photos of mccain on her site (shark teeth? what?), i'm a little scared. I guess its not for me to say whether or not she was wrong in her actions, but she was certainly unprofessional.

Dan Zubrzycki said...

I think this picture is not so bad. It is no different than bias in the news paper or in written form. Her choices on her own website might be a bit extreme but thats a different story. this is clever use of lighting and artistry to make a point. im all for it

Jessica Gizinski said...

i agree. Even though it is photojournalism and in any form of journalism youre supposed to put your story or photograph in this manner outside of yourself, you still have to imagine that most people no matter what form consider photography an art. She was putting her interpretation to the subject which i think wasn't crossing the line. Then again some people may choose to disagree with me and i didn't look at the rest of the pictures of him.

Pete B said...

Out of curiosity, what about all the photos that make John McCain seem like a perfect family man or have him smiling in some pose that is supposed to win over public opinion?
I don't think anybody walks around looking like this photographer made McCain to look, but additionally he's just a man, he isn't that made-to-look perfect guy the pro-republicans make him out to be either.
Personally I think she did what she attempted to accomplish very well... is it right to do such a thing in an organized photo-shoot? Perhaps not.

mike maiden said...

The fact that she is a hardcore democrat should have nothing to do with her doing her job. This would be like a pitcher from Boston getting drafted by the Yankees and every time he pitches against Boston does nothing but walk his opponents. This wouldn't be accepted and neither should this.

Jessica Lista said...

I feel what she did was very biased. You can see from the photograph that she is trying to portray John McCain in a bad light. People are already worried because he is a much older candidate for president so to see a picture like this could really push for people to not vote for him. I feel she should not have shot his phtotograph in this way because I feel it truly displays that she is a hard-core Democrat.

benbot said...

It's a little ridiculous. There's no subtlety. This type of photography is interesting and admirable but doesn't really work for a portrait of a politician. There's just no restraint. It's manipulation of a subject to say what? McCain is Satan? He's an evil overlord? Again, just no restraint. Tactless. But a cool looking photo nonetheless.

najee clancy said...

I feel that if she was hired and was being paid to potograph a presidential candidate then she was being paid to do a good job, despite her political views. But hey, its her agenda and obviously she wasn't too concerned with the money that the McCain compaign would've paid.

Geo said...

Uh, she wasn't working for the McCain campaign. If a photojournalist took cash from politicians, then I'd REALLY be concerned.

The photog did this assignment as for a magazine.

- George (the teacher)

Cara said...

Freedom of speech and expression! She can say and portray what she wants as long as it doesn't go against the first amendment. its funny how people try to pull apart journalism today saying that it's so bias. everyone is bias, that's what makes us human. journalists have the right to say what they believe. reporting the news, however, is a different story.... thats when you have to be careful with what you say and how you portray your information to the public.

Cara said...

This is like splitting the difference between what makes a news reporter a news reporter, and what makes an opinion writer an opinion writer. It's not wrong this photo journalist is expressing her opinion. Just like the other million people on youtube posting videos that mock Sarah Palin... obviously there's a line of when its too much... See, this photo, however, would be very wrong if you showed this photo on CNN. To get to my very lengthy point... there are different ways to report the news, and each job gives you different regulations and freedoms... i dont see anything wrong with this photo.

Cara said...

.. also notice how it says freelance photographer guys...

Shari DaCosta said...

I think that she crossed the line. She should not have purposely tried to portray him in a negative light, however neither should she have tried to portray him favorably. She should have simply portrayed him as he is, treating him as she would have any other political candidate or subject she shoots. By trying to purposely show him in a negative light the images come off biased.

Matt.Fitzpatrick said...

WHOAAAA...This looks like pure propaghanda to me. An obviously liberal Obama loving photographer. I don't think this is ethical. The picture makes McCain out to be the leader of some secret mob-agency or something. Its an attempt to compare McCain to evil, and is in a way slanderous. I don't know the rules on photography, but I would bet that a picture like this in any major publication would slap a huge mark on it saying LIBERAL.

Hattie Cheek said...

I feel that she can take whatever kind of photos that she wants. Shes a photographer, its her job to capture him in any way that she wants. If i were to see this photo in a magazin i would just think it was poor phoagraphy, he looks like shit. Just an old and wrinkley man. Its up to the magazine to publish photos like this.

Greta Tralongo said...

I feel that Ms. Greenberg took more than just this photo, and the one that was published showes McCain in a good light. As a photographer it's her job to capture every essence of the subject. Perhaps this is what came through, and maybe we should take a step back and look at how honestly this photo portrays McCain. He's standing there, just himself, no retouching, no enhancements, so maybe if the photo is frightening, we shouldn't be questioning the photographer who happened to snap the shot, but rather the person in the image. Also McCain knew who was photographing him, she's a self proclaimed "hard-core democrat" so he knew what was coming.

Jen Merrill said...

I really don't get the big deal. If you look at the photograph that actually WAS published and put on the front cover, it's rather flattering, especially compared to many regular pictures I've seen of McCain at rallies and other public events. This is a great picture. Her use of light and angles has created a piece of art. And besides, this wasn't the only picture she took. Not all the pictures portrayed this view, so if anything, she WAS being balanced. She showed McCain from all angles (literally). And why would it be her duty to make him look good? THAT'S what's really wrong with some media outlets; everyone is made to look perfect, creating false standards. It's quite deceiving. No matter if it was a picture of Obama, Bush, Biden, Palin, or even freaking Lindsay Lohan, (who gets unflattering pictures of her published EVERY DAY) the unique perspective makes me respect Greenberg and remember that there's always more than one view to everything in life.

Chris Kline said...

I don't know the moral ethics of photography, but I don't think she was wrong in taking such a picture. She can do what she wants, she is the photographer. The editors make the final decision of what goes in the magazine. She can take pictures like this all she wants. The only bad outcome for her is that she might get fired for taking such bias pics.

gabriellesc@temple.edu said...

it`s definitely biased, and maybe just a little TOO opinionated. as a person, how can i present a person for who they are, or portray themselves to be ALONG with my opinion?

laura jadwin said...

If it's not appropriate for her to photograph him in a negative light, then it's not appropriate for her to photograph him in a positive light, either. Had she been a Republican, then the Democrats could say she was being biased for shooting him in a more flattering and favorable way(as she did in the photo used for the cover of the magazine). She, however, did photograph him in both ways-favorable to both parties.

Colin Kerrigan said...

I do not think she crossed the line on this photo. She was doing her job as a photographer. A good photographer will take hundreds of photos from numerous angles in order to have different perspectives of the subject. That's exactly what she did. I'm sure she has several other photos that portray John McCain as some kind of higher being.

Megan McCue Journalism said...

She was definately wrong in doing this, as a great photographer she knows what she is doing. If it were someone else she would probably have the ability to make them look amazing. I agree that it isn't her job to make them look good but this is not how he really looks, she went out of her way to do this. Anyone can take bad pictures, even the most attractive people. She really manipulated the opportunity and took advantage of her position. This is a strong example of letting your personal beliefs affect your journalism.

Kate Stafford said...

It is her right to have her opinion heard (or seen in this case). If she portrayed him as smiling and jovial, and used other tactics to make him look like the perfect candidate would she have received the same criticism? Both portrayals are one in the same, but because this one is negative, it's causing a stir.

Sophia Salvatore said...

I don't think that this is wrong at all. That's what he really looks like! It's not her fault that he's old and scary-looking. Honestly, I think that this photo shows the side of him that I see whenever I watch him speak on the television, the side that many right-wing conservatives refuse to acknowledge. I know that this statement sounds incredibly biased, but this is how I see him.

Courtney Schmidt said...

She has the right to have her own opinion of the Republican party, however, as a photographer she was hired to do a job and she should have put her beliefs aside. On the other hand, people should now that in every day life, John McCain does not look like what he was portrayed as in this photograph. Anyone can take a horrible photograph, does that mean they will be a bad president? I personally don't support McCain, but I also don't think that this photograph should represent him.

JudgeJeff911 said...

I feel as though it is a dis-service to the american public. When americans see photos and other propaganda negatively portraying a future presidential candidate it affects their thoughts and views. Pictures like this have negative affects because for those voters who feel that magazine articles and pictures are sufficient materials and credible sources send incorrect messages to the public. On the other hand photos like this one can sometimes act as a stimulus to encourage the masses to research both candidates more thouroghly prior to making a decision on who to vote for. Despite this two sided argument I believe that pictures similar to Jill Greenbergs in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine cause more detrimental side effects than positive effects.

gina benigno said...

There are always going to be areas of journalism that are biased, and sometimes these biases are unavoidable. Purposely photographing someone to depict them in a negative light, however, is crossing the line to an extent. The photographer is risking a significant loss of subscribers by imposing her views into her profession. On the contrary, she could also be gaining a larger niche audience by demonstrating similar political views. Is this a risk worth taking?