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The Photographer as Citizen (4)

We — not we in the U.S., nor we in the west, but we as a species — need those among us willing not just to watch but to witness, and sometimes to bear witness. We do not encourage and support them by insisting that, beyond that commitment, they have some vague moral obligation to intervene as well, or to second-guess their quick decisions on that score in fraught and dangerous situations. […]

The Photographer as Citizen (3)

Is it ethical for the Ethics Committee Chair of the NPPA not to support a photographer who, even though not a member, abides by the NPPA’s code of ethics? To put it another way, if as an NPPA member I found myself in Abbasi’s shoes someday, and scrupulously followed the NPPA’s current code of ethics to the letter by “not seeking to alter or influence events,” could I reasonably expect my professional organization to have my back, or should I instead anticipate that its Ethics Committee Chair would stab me in it? […]

The Photographer as Citizen (2)

If journalists wanted to work as nurses, medics, doctors, firefighters or other first responders, or sisters of mercy like Mother Teresa, they’d have chosen a different profession or calling and undergone a much different kind of training. They elected instead to make their livings practicing various forms of a craft that makes a different but hardly easier set of moral and ethical demands on them. […]

The Photographer as Citizen (1)

The most useful way to approach this, I think, involves assuming that, faced with the imminent death of a fellow citizen whom he might possibly (but might well not) have saved at his own considerable peril, a professional photographer opted to make pictures of the situation rather than attempt to intervene in it. “Opportunity confers moral responsibility,” Noam Chomsky wrote in a very different context. But of course opportunity comes in a spectrum of degrees. […]