In the wake of this weeks ‘Paulogate’ along with image enhancement in competitions it was with great sadness and an amazing amount of irony to read about the passing of Ozzie Sweet, 94, in the New York Times obituaries column today. The beautifully written obituary by Bruce Weber gives an amazing insight into his life as a photographer in the early to middle parts of the last century, I was particularly interested to read about his sports photography exploits, dangling baseball bats on fishing line for a contrived image with Roger Maris to directing Jackie Robinson into a mid slide pose.
There were a couple of really interesting observations relevant to this weeks discussions. Firstly, is the admission that Ozzie used a friend to pose as a German soldier to symbolize the end of World War II.
I am not sure if the photograph was taken anywhere near Rochester.
Secondly, he considered himself not a news photographer but a photographic image maker.
How I wish we could have had his thoughts during this weeks discussions as the industry attempts to move forward.
Speaking of thoughts, it would have been very interesting to read the views of prominent professional photojournalist and editors on this matter. Unfortunately the silence has been deafening which says more than if they had been condemning or supporting Paulo Pellegrin. Has everyone run to put their heads under the pillow in the hope it all goes away?
“Let he without sin cast the first stone” comes to mind.
Some great debate, observations and points of view have occurred and I have copied and pasted below a few blog posts that I have found particularly interesting.
David Hume Kennerly • (BagNews Blog)
I think many of the comments here miss the main point. Mr. Pellegrin felt he needed a white guy with a gun to cap off his incredibly biased piece on the Crescent in Rochester, took a picture of one who was 100% unrelated to the tale that he was spinning, and who on top of that was miles away from the scene of his interest. He then used that dramatic photo, (well, all his photos are dramatic), as part of his now award-winning picture story. Where I come from, and the business I’ve spent almost 50 years pursuing, doesn’t allow for that kind of thing, and it wouldn’t cross my mind to do it. Mr. Pellegrin is also trying to shoot the messenger, (you), by attacking your thesis by obfuscating to the max. He’s also laying off the blame for lifting the NY Times text that was used without attribution to accompany his photos, on his agency. The use of that text alone should disqualify his entry, and it should be nullified. In summation, I think you have done an excellent job of writing about this issue. I do agree with the comment that the use of your red marker was a bit over the top!
For the record, thank you for making that first point, Mr. Kennerly. If any of us (who have been pointing out the obvious along such lines in the past) had made such an observation, we would would have been scorned, lambasted, and ridiculed outta town…
David Hume Kennerly (NYT Lens Blog)
Youngblood • (BagNewsBlog) ( I don’t think this is his real name)
The truth as I see the Paolo Pellegrin saga, is that he posed a photo of a gun-toting white guy wearing a baseball hat, (a truly American cliché), to make his story on The Crescent in Rochester more relevant. It was also shot miles from the area. He is obfuscating about his use of a photo that is out of context with his essay, employing a Lance Armstrong type of defense, (i.e. shoot the messenger bearing the news, BagNews, and anyone else riding their, “journalistic high horse,” who dare criticize him). He also used verbatim an old story from the NY Times, no attribution, as the underlying text of his photomontage, a cardinal sin, and has blamed others for that. Contest entries are submitted under your name, and you are solely responsible for their content. Period. It’s not your assistant who is getting the award.
We photographers are at a crisis point of credibility, and the Pellegrin matter is exacerbating the problem. Something has to be done to help right a listing ship.
Reuters, AP, AFP, Getty, and other news publications have zero tolerance for this, and maintain that essential and hard line on professional ethics. The people who run the Pictures of the Year International, (POYi), and the World Press Photo contest need to do the same. They need to make a gutsy call now to fairly review this problem. If their judgment is that the awards given to Mr. Pellegin for his contest entries appear to be tainted, then those awards have to be withdrawn immediately.
As an ‘emerging photographer’, it’s incredibly discouraging to see the standards of ethics set (in the field and in post) to be worthy of admiration and praise. These contests are presented with such prestige, it’s difficult for the new generation of pjs, caught in the bloodbath of trying to get your name on the map, to not conform to the expectation. I wish WPP/POYI/etc would realize the repercussions their own ethics could have on the future of the industry.
I also find it kind of funny that the cover of David Alan Harvey’s book on Rio is his assistant. Candy was also on the cover of NatGeo Brazil. Candy is not from Brazil and was not just some passerby either. She works for Harvey. How is this different?
Perhaps it is time to redefine ‘photo journalist’ and ‘photographic image maker’ so not just emerging photographers like Youngblood but the rest of the photographic profession can decide direction and acceptable ethical standards. Do we head back to the mid 20th century or do we have a definitive direction for photo journalism? What happens in the next few days is crucial for our industry and as David Hume Kennerly says, “We photographers are at a crisis point of credibility, and the Pellegrin matter is exacerbating the problem. Something has to be done to help right a listing ship. “
We await with bated breath…