Snap Judgments

Friday, May 28, 2010


What are the rules that govern journalistic portrait photography? Wide-angle lenses, nonstandard lighting, shooting from below – they’re all fair game and frequently employed by photogs working for major publications. But what obligation is there to the subject? Bob searches for answers in this story originally broadcast in 2008.

Comments [6]

Patrick Works from california

There's a reason that much of what we have here is called "editorial photography"; everyone assumes that just as a writer does, the photographer will bring their own perspective and editorial judgment to the project at hand.

The real difference seems to be that while an interview subject will watch what they say, and carefully rehearse responses to anticipated questions, very few of them have the knowledge necessary to operate in on an equal footing with photographers.

Clearly the hollywood folk do understand all this, and thus they exert as much control as they can. Most other subjects are indeed fish in a barrel.

So don't ask to be shot. Most photographers choose their own weapons and won't ask permission to do so.

Jun. 02 2010 02:57 PM
Kathie Florsheim

Listening to the description of the shoot of Ann Coulter was a disturbing experience. The photographer said that Coulter knew how the game worked, after hearing the host express sympathy for her. Like the host, I have no sympathy for Ms. Coulter, but to say that she knew how the game worked is a self-satisfying rationalization. Most people, unless they are photographers, photo stylists or art directors, have no idea how a camera can manipulate the subject. Photoshop is not needed to make editorial comments about a subject. My own, personal opinion, as a photographer, is that photographing a subject as Ms. Coulter was, is dirty pool. I do not like what she stands for, but I like the manner in which she was used, and I do mean used, is equally disturbing.
Kathie Florsheim

Jun. 01 2010 01:07 PM
Joe Kelly from St. Louis, MO

Mr. Garfield,
Do you really think that by simply avoiding the term 'retard' you are not stigmatizing these folks when you say no one wants to look like them? My son is mentally challenged and there have been many times I wish I had look like him. He acts out of compassion not the kind of glib, derisiveness you showed in this report. Would you have said "No one want to look like an African American" and felt it was OK simply because you didn't use the n-word?
Your choice was on the level of the middle schoolers I work with who think its OK to call someone 'tarded' because they haven't said 'retarded'.
Since you have the intellect to do better please try harder next time.

May. 30 2010 07:04 PM
Pete Bauer from South Bend, IN

As the author of "Photoshop for Dummies" (among other books), I am in an excellent position to know (and teach and explain) what we can and should and should not do with digital images. However, portrait manipulation is not something that started with Photoshop 20 years ago. Take a look at the Hollywood studio publicity shots from the 1930s and 1940s. Then go back even further and take a look at portraits painted by, for example, John Singer Sargent. And let's not forget that studio photographers often set up the lighting to produce what we in the biz often call "Rembrandt lighting." Yup, that Rembrandt. Very flattering look, developed by a true master.

Pete Bauer
Author, "Photoshop CS5 for Dummies"
Member, Professional Photographers of America

May. 29 2010 07:16 PM
Genevieve Baker from Springville, UT

Paraphrasing "No one wants to look mentally challenged..."

By saying that in your program today you imply there is something wrong with being mentally challenged. How dare you. I don't know what else you talked about or the other groups your said no one wants to look like because once I heard that I could think of nothing else. I am so shocked that a program I have thought to be very fair to both sides of the story being covered could so casually disparage a whole group of people. My sister has down's syndrome and she is beautiful, kind, and funny and I would be proud to look like her with her infectious smile and sparkling eyes. Would you say no one wants to look black or asian or disabled etc. I hazard to say you wouldn't. The mentally handicapped deserve that same respect and civility.

May. 29 2010 05:20 PM
Chris Law from Tallmadge, OH

I was amazed at the unprofessionalism exhibited by the "professional" photographers in this piece. It is unconscionable to believe that someone being paid to perform a service would abuse their perceived professionalism for personal gain. Sen. McCain, I assume, assumed that the photographer was a professional - to say that fooling him into a shot she used to mock him was like shooting fish in a barrel - and THEN not understanding why anyone should think that wrong... I am beyond words. I'm glad she is not a medical doctor, judge or fireman. If you don't believe you can work in a professional manner with someone, refuse the work.

May. 29 2010 04:11 PM

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