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Ethics of prize-winning photo debated

By dpreview staff on Feb 25, 2013 at 20:22 GMT

What happens when a Magnum photographer creates a documentary image that does not depict the reality indicated by the caption? What happens when that same image wins critical acclaim as part of a portfolio that garners the creator an international Photographer of the Year award? A controversy in the world of photojournalism is the result, with many accusing photographer Paolo Pellegrin of violating basic journalistic ethics, including plagiarizing the background description of his series from a decade-old piece written in the New York Times.

This image has garnered both critical acclaim and criticism for Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin.

The original caption of the image above as it appears on the POYI web site reads,'The Crescent, Rochester USA, 2012. A former US Marine corp sniper with his weapon. Rochester, NY USA 2012.'

The problem is that the subject, Shane Keller - photographed in his garage -  was never a Marine sniper, but a former photojournalism student and combat photographer. In addition, the Crescent neighborhood of Rochester, an urban area marked by high crime is not the one in which Mr. Keller was photographed.

In his defense, Mr. Pellegrin has responded by telling the New York Times lens blog that the incident is a result of a genuine misunderstanding and inadvertent posting of research information that was never meant to be made public. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, this begs the larger question of whether the award-winning image garnered critical acclaim because of its content or its context. Can you even separate the two? Use the comments section to let us know what you think.

Comments

Total comments: 151
12
silverpony
By silverpony (Mar 18, 2013)

What a slap in the face for those of us that served. Enough said.

1 upvote
Serban Alexandru
By Serban Alexandru (Mar 5, 2013)

The context did it. I've seen remarkable, award-winning black and white photos and this one is far from them.
The ethics of the prize comes to my mind...

0 upvotes
augustfoto
By augustfoto (Mar 5, 2013)

Brings a hole new level of "faking it". This pic doesnt tell a story. Most probably the award was given for its caption. LOL!

0 upvotes
Camediadude
By Camediadude (Mar 5, 2013)

This is not news. Ethics are all but dead in today's world of journalism. Sad, but a phase we will crawl out of once more..

0 upvotes
Chuck Lantz
By Chuck Lantz (Mar 4, 2013)

Simple solution: Admit the error and withdraw the photo.

0 upvotes
Hetvenhet
By Hetvenhet (Mar 3, 2013)

Havent checked fully but
#18 also looks highly photoshoped, hard to give any credit to this guy.

0 upvotes
chj
By chj (Mar 2, 2013)

what a crappy shot

0 upvotes
Banhmi
By Banhmi (Mar 1, 2013)

If the caption said, "photography student retrieving props", there would not have been any awards.

Almost all these "photography awards" are tools for shaping public policy.

3 upvotes
designdef
By designdef (Feb 28, 2013)

America is an Award based society. This is what happens when you deem a photograph to be 'good' and award the photographer. Mistakes will be made. Best not to seek out or give awards;) Was it a bravery award?

0 upvotes
Pap38
By Pap38 (Feb 28, 2013)

It's a crap image. And the judges need to be removed from ever judging anythinng again. Actually I don't blame the photographer as much as I do the judges.

5 upvotes
OttoVonChriek
By OttoVonChriek (Feb 28, 2013)

This is good photography.

This is bad photojournalism.

1 upvote
communicat
By communicat (Feb 28, 2013)

This may be slightly off topic, but apart from their accuracy, aren't some of the captions in the portfolio possibly libellous?

"A man is arrested by the Rochester police after having assaulted his father with a samurai sword." Or how about: "An intoxicated man who was molesting passerbys is arrested."

Perhaps the people pictured in these images have different views on the matter and resent being labelled as "intoxicated" or "molesters" or as people who assault their fathers with swords?

The last time I attended journalism school in my country, they were pretty insistent that we didn't accuse anyone of anything unless it had been proved in a court of law. If we were to make such allegations, we needed to precede them with "alleged" since it was not our place to judge them, just report on the situation.

I take it such legal niceties are not required in the US, since these awards are even overseen by some important journalism institute?

1 upvote
Csaba Farkas
By Csaba Farkas (Feb 28, 2013)

Sham, sham, sham. No excuses are good enough for such a mishap at Magnum.
Shame.

1 upvote
Hen3ry
By Hen3ry (Feb 28, 2013)

As a long time journalist and photographer, and someone who remembers the great days of Magnum, I'm shocked and disgusted. The award, of course, should be withdrawn and Magnum should dump the chump. Research information phooey!

I do like the image as such, though, but I'm hard-prerssed to see it as being of award quality.

And a sniper with a shotgun? Nah!

7 upvotes
HubertChen
By HubertChen (Feb 28, 2013)

Indeed!

2 upvotes
Serban Alexandru
By Serban Alexandru (Mar 5, 2013)

Not to mention the belly...

0 upvotes
alanvee
By alanvee (Feb 28, 2013)

Geeze - a below-average snapshot of some dude holding a SHOTGUN!
Look close at the bandolier - shotgun shells. I play BattleField 3, and I should know!! "Award winning"? OMG... How sad.

4 upvotes
Alex Notpro
By Alex Notpro (Feb 28, 2013)

that dude does not look like a "former marine sniper"

2 upvotes
ofquiet
By ofquiet (Feb 27, 2013)

That's an award-winning image? Really?

4 upvotes
Osvaldo Cristo
By Osvaldo Cristo (Feb 27, 2013)

Fake!

(do we need any additional words for that?)

1 upvote
mickeybphoto
By mickeybphoto (Feb 27, 2013)

Back in my early years I shot a photograph and gave it to my editor and mentor for approval and publishing. It was a traffic collision where a car took out a stop sign and hit another vehicle. He saw the proof sheet and asked who it was that turned the back side of the stop sign to the front. I told him I did because it looked more dramatic. He wadded up the picture and threw it at me. He said as journalists we don't add things or take away things to look more dramatic. We simply observe and tell the truth and facts. And that was not the truth or a fact. None of my images ran even the one I didn't have a hand in. Hard lesson learned for me and it's something I still carry with me today when shooting journalistic style images. Perhaps Pelligrin didn't know any better but in the end the truth came out. Photographer of the year needs to go to the runner up, in my opinion. Hard lesson learned.

6 upvotes
Marcus J. Wilson Sr.
By Marcus J. Wilson Sr. (Feb 27, 2013)

This should be labled a fraud. There is no way any police department would let someone dressed like this walk around in the worst neighborhood in the world cliaming he is proctecting the public. At worst he is a vigilante, and would be arrested. I've never been to Rodchester or the Crescent, but I'm guessing its in the inner city and is not a bastion of white middle class ethincity, which brings in the factor of racism. The editors who let this image through to judging didn't do their job of verifying the facts involved in this photo. In my opinion, as a former newspaper editor, both the editors and the photographers are a fault for perpetrating such a scam. Also, in my opinin for what its worth, its not even that good of a photo.

1 upvote
TonyCwell
By TonyCwell (Feb 27, 2013)

In some ways this is worse than a fraud. This guy disrespects the Marine Corps and what it stands for by wearing a motto he doesn't deserve and claiming status he didn't earn. I'm not a US Marine, but imagine any one of them would be deeply offended by this kind of thing.

4 upvotes
Tlipp
By Tlipp (Feb 27, 2013)

Thank You Sir!

0 upvotes
xMichaelx
By xMichaelx (Feb 27, 2013)

@Cy Cheze: "This guy disrespects the Marine Corps and what it stands for by wearing a motto he doesn't deserve and claiming status he didn't earn."

I'm equally offended by people who wear Jethro Tull t-shirts. I mean, most of them were never even IN Jethro Tull!!

3 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Feb 27, 2013)

An excellent photo! Deserves an award, yes. But perhaps with a different title and a slight PhotoShop touch or two.

Proposed alterations:

1) Replace the gun with a fancy camera and the munition belt with a lens bag, but leave the shadow with the gun silhouette.
2) Title: either "Fanboy Reporting for Duty" or "Mr. Gear and Beer".

4 upvotes
Alejandro del Pielago
By Alejandro del Pielago (Feb 27, 2013)

Some posts are so filled with bitterness... about everything, but not everything applicable in this case.

Get all the information, then judge.

So many people don`t use the available information, but just a black liver to judge.

0 upvotes
Constantin Firescu
By Constantin Firescu (Feb 28, 2013)

It's just sad. People judge so easily, yet they don't know all the facts. They didn't bother looking at the whole series of photos. They didn't try to process all the information and don't know what was wrong in the photo description. This thread is a ridicule to photography and photojournalists. An absurd rant driven by ignorance and lack of knowledge.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Feb 27, 2013)

Winnings, prizes, glory, vanity... and various "experts" who create competitions out of communicative medium, that is to blame. When someone distorts the facts in an attempt to become "famous", it's a case of a severe lack of understanding of the photography role and purpose.
Quite aside from that, this photo has so many shortcomings that it makes me doubt my ability of judgement after decades of photographic experience. This looks like, and won't amount to anything more than a snapshot, even if it was shot by Chuck Norris.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
english_Wolf
By english_Wolf (Feb 27, 2013)

The truth? You cannot handle it!!
(Quote from some movie)

0 upvotes
IrishhAndy
By IrishhAndy (Feb 27, 2013)

Never heard of him.

0 upvotes
Scorpius1
By Scorpius1 (Feb 27, 2013)

Very average image.. anyone could have taken that shot...

2 upvotes
alan900
By alan900 (Feb 27, 2013)

The rest of his portfolio looks great. Trouble is, now we're wondering how many of the others were also faked. Reputations take ages to build, and no time at all to tear down.

1 upvote
Jimding
By Jimding (Feb 27, 2013)

By all appearances, the firearm in question is a shotgun, not a rifle. Far as I know, not many snipers use a shotgun as a primary weapon. So the image is contrived, at best. The image almost certainly drew notice due to the content, as the other aspects don't appear remarkable. And the content is staged.

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Feb 27, 2013)

Correct, it is a pump gun, not much use for sniping, even in the original sense of the word (you can't shoot snipes with pellet blasters). This "sniper scene" looks more like something out of "Neighbor Watch" mag ;)

1 upvote
SterlingBjorndahl
By SterlingBjorndahl (Feb 27, 2013)

It doesn't BEG the question, it RAISES the question. To BEG a question means you are using "circular reasoning", not simply "moving along to the next interesting point".

English speakers should train themselves to use the phrase "That raises the question ..." and forget all about begging.

Latin speakers, on the other hand, can continue to use the phrase "petitio principii", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

5 upvotes
Alastair Norcross
By Alastair Norcross (Feb 27, 2013)

I'm with you on this, but I suspect we're fighting a losing battle.

1 upvote
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Feb 27, 2013)

The sad thing about this is the JUDGES know they have made a mistake in giving an award and too proud to admit they have been HOODWINKED and made EL STUPEEDO by a contestant, they will not retract and probably distance themselves from the hoolabaloo.

.

3 upvotes
JMichaelsPhoto
By JMichaelsPhoto (Feb 27, 2013)

This issue reflects a greater problem evident in mass media today, the fabrication of facts to suit the agenda of the reporter. And there isn't a single news source immune from it. Take a look at any news outlet on any issue, if you can honestly say that what you see is impartial, as it was observed, the facts and only the facts, you are as naive as you are incredibly stupid. For example, to this day, it is still being reported that Adam Lanza used an AR-15 to shoot those kids in New Town despite a coroner's report lacking any evidence of the sort, along with conflicting reports that the rifle was even present at the scene. It's all about the spin. If it can't be proven otherwise, the media is content to draw whatever conclusion that supports their agenda. This guy [Pellegrin] knew exactly what he was doing. He was making a statement. Which is fine. It is editorial at best, nothing more. So don't call it journalism.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Vic-F
By Vic-F (Feb 27, 2013)

Unless, of course you discount Connecticut State Police who stated that the Bushmaster was 1 of the weapons found in the school.

As a Connecticut resident I am offended that you thought it appropriate to bring your conspiracy theory mindset into this discussion. IMHO, the otherwise valid argument about making the "facts" fit the agenda was made small and petty by your own attempt to advance a pro gun agenda.

I do agree with you that Mr. Pellegrin knew what he was doing, and for that reason deserves any ill will directed at him. He certainly ought to be stripped of the prize. If I were an editor I would look long and hard at any submission from Mr. Pellegrin, and demand secondary (and tertiary) confirmation before using it.

1 upvote
JMichaelsPhoto
By JMichaelsPhoto (Feb 27, 2013)

I don't really care what you think is appropriate, Vic. I made my statement irregardless of your opinion of it. If you're too lazy to research current events in your own state, that's your fault not mine. The facts are there to whomever chooses to find them. And lets be honest, Vic....it wouldn't be the first time a state police agency was mistaken about its own investigations or what it chooses to make public knowledge. Fortunately for us, the freedom of information act means we don't need the statement of the Conneticut state police chief. Draw whatever conclusion you want, but don't lecture me about what is or is not appropriate in an internet forum because I could give a sh!t.

0 upvotes
argyrotype
By argyrotype (Feb 26, 2013)

If I'd taken this pic, the next step would be the "DELETE" button. a 2 on the 10 scale....

12 upvotes
///M
By ///M (Feb 27, 2013)

Exactly what I was thinking, 2 is being too kind

2 upvotes
gdfthr73
By gdfthr73 (Feb 27, 2013)

I was about to post the exact same comment

1 upvote
smithim
By smithim (Mar 2, 2013)

WTS

0 upvotes
behyer
By behyer (Feb 26, 2013)

The photo was contrived, and Pellegrin's reasons (excuses) sound like he's covering his ass. He had an idea (based on his own politics) that he felt he could illustrate by creating this photograph. That's fine in some editorial circles, but a "news" photo is unposed. If a photographer wishes to use angle, light or other techniques to emphasize one element or another, that's fine - at least he/she is capturing the moment as it is happening.

This photo is another thing entirely. He made it up. Maybe it works in the context of a photo essay. But journalism? No. He should be disqualified.

6 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Feb 28, 2013)

"He should be disqualified."

And if he is not, that could tell a lot... By the way, the jury too should be disqualified as it's obvious it severely lacks of discernment... or worse. That said, the "Photographer Of the Year" organization doesn't seem to be so much legitimate. Just have a look to the second winner's picture which is of a rare banality: http://www.poyi.org/70/44/second_01.php

If a photojournalism prize is not directely related to originality, accuracy, truth and skill, it's raison d'etre is next to zero !

Breaking news: "Feb. 26: World Press stands by its decision to award Paolo Pellegrin second place in the general news category of their contest."

Well, everything is said. The P.O.Y is a vast joke !

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Alejandro del Pielago
By Alejandro del Pielago (Feb 26, 2013)

The Mr Pellegrin's portfolio is excellent.

This is photojournalism; here, image AND information work as one thing. Beside, it`s a portfolio; so pictures could be seen almost like frames in a motion picture. Then, the photos should be seen like a part of a whole.

The subject is real, he´s the owner of that "real" gun. The procedure of the report described by the subject himself was standard (http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/22/a-prize-winning-ethics-lesson/?smid=tw-share).

No doubt the description is not accurate, but it`s not absurd if we read the Pelllgrin`s allegations. Yes, it was a mistake, but it does not destroy the kernel of the story.

And I don`t like some tones of the subject: "Oh, I was so naive...".

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
gdfthr73
By gdfthr73 (Feb 27, 2013)

Really?
It looks like he accidentally hit the shutter button while mounting the camera on a tripod.

5 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Feb 27, 2013)

Beg to differ. The person I don't know about, the gun is a shotgun, and not the high-power sniping rifle. Also, since Pancho Villa rarely anyone would carry an ammo belt in this fashion, except for a lark.
As to the "description being inaccurate", it works well with the image of similar quality.
But there was NO MISTAKE. No cheating ever is a mistake. It is always deliberate, and that's what makes cheating punishable, as opposed to something defined as an error of a mistake.
Sorry, but it only takes one cheating to ruin the whole of some author's opus.

2 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Feb 28, 2013)

Yet "Feb. 26: World Press stands by its decision to award Paolo Pellegrin second place in the general news category of their contest".

What to conclude from that stubbornness ?

0 upvotes
Tlipp
By Tlipp (Feb 26, 2013)

Why all the fuss? A similar photo, with dead children, won 2013 World Press Photo.

1 upvote
///M
By ///M (Feb 27, 2013)

But that was a real event, only dramatized by post processing...

0 upvotes
doctorbza
By doctorbza (Feb 27, 2013)

///M is correct, however I'd go as far as to say the other photo should be disqualified as well. In fact, if you go through a bunch of winning images you'll see a lot of heavy handed post production that gets in the way of the reality. I'm not anti-photoshop, but in the context of these images this type of editing is very questionable.

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (Feb 26, 2013)

Was I supposed to know what a Magnum photographer is?

I had a chocolate truffle Magnum ice cream today, and I once bought a Magnum of champagne for a party (it's possible I also ate a magnum ice cream at the party, but I don't specifically recall).

I did watch a TV series staring Tom Selleck, and enjoyed the Dirty Harry series of Clint Eastwood films, but none of those seem relevant to this; perhaps the Tom Selleck character at a push, 20 years later with too much winter feasting under the belt (and over), a bit like Captain Kirk and TJ Hooker.

PS: I know now it's an agency, but that's only because this article made me feel small for not already knowing what it was, so I went and did some private investigating.

Isn't this site supposed to have an editor who looks for things like 'Magnum' and replace it with 'the Photo Agency Magnum'? Note please don't do that now, as my comment would then say 'I had a chocolate truffle the Photo Agency Magnum' which wouldn't really make any sense.

3 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Feb 28, 2013)

A Magnum photographer is, I suppose, a one who shoot at anything without knowing what's his target about, with his very big and long magnum. Illustration: http://tinyurl.com/c7ljt6t

Gotcha !

0 upvotes
Andrew53
By Andrew53 (Feb 26, 2013)

This photogrpah did not represent a real situation. It was placed and captioned such that the viewer would have thought it represented a real situation. It does not represent reality any more than an action movie represents realisty. It is a work of fiction.

Journalism is suppose to make the world a better place. This photograph, the story and the award destroy trust between the public and the journalism profession. This is a dis-service to the community. This does not make the world a better place.

I am appalled.

10 upvotes
///M
By ///M (Feb 27, 2013)

He should get a 1 year suspension from assignments...

0 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Feb 28, 2013)

... and get his Dpreview account suspended for the same period.

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Feb 26, 2013)

Award was purely for political reasons. I am not even sure the judges cared if it was faked or not. It's a journalism institute - the last place where you would expect anyone to care about journalistic ethics. It's all about promoting agendas.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
8 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Feb 27, 2013)

So much about judges / jury quality. But the fact that they have access to the journalistic media doesn't grant any right to anyone to cheat the public. The way it was handled, it carries the same "reality" as a detergent commercial, and the public should punish that, not play sheep and go along with just another shrug-and-forget.
Some other attempt at "inventive journalism" may start some riot and cause damage and/or victims - and who will suffer repercussions? Selling of sensationalism has always bordered on dangerous, being aimed at the less clever part of the population the way it is. It's time to do something serious about "fakegraphy", and on the global scale.

0 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (Feb 26, 2013)

Several years ago it was said that the picture does not lie. Nowadays both lie, photography and photographer. Much more than in the days of analog. Welcome to digital world fever.
If the judges are impressed by these works, much more impressed were the people who would not dream how much is done in this area. We will see in the next photos that want to go through real and consequently win prizes. However this was not the first nor the last to do something like this.

1 upvote
scourmanop
By scourmanop (Feb 26, 2013)

It's not a complex issue…people just make it so. The photo and caption together form what we call in Psychology, a gestalt; a pattern where neither is true or false without the other. The image/caption combination is either true or false. False is false. Since a photograph, unlike a painting, does not have the hallmarks of a "created" work vs. a "captured" work, it must either be completely "clean" or completely obvious as created, e.g. the work of Man Ray. Otherwise, it must be labelled as "created" and not positioned as captured. Capa's falling soldier was a hoax and while it may have accomplished his political and journalistic goals, it was ingenuous and insulting to real photographers.

2 upvotes
Michael Thomas002
By Michael Thomas002 (Feb 26, 2013)

Brilliant analysis of the interaction of expectation and reality and an excellent critique of photo-journalism. Either you are a journalist or you are an artist. If you try to mix the two, then you are neither.

0 upvotes
KariP
By KariP (Feb 26, 2013)

Quote: "If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough." Robert Capa was a founder of Magnum Photos

Things were done also with film - even this great photographer could not always get close enough the real thing. And it was done even before his famous photograph from Spain 1936.

Photoshopping is not the culprit and the destroyer of all ethics

Check the famous Cottingley fairies "photographed" in England in 1917.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

Mr Pellegrin is one photographer in a long tradition. Fabricated reality is sometimes more highly acclaimed.. since the first photographs.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (Feb 26, 2013)

As we all know Capra's most famous picture from the War in Spain was a fake, a staged photo where no one was shot, not as Capra told the world - he also won prices for that shot!

So this is very much a typical Magnum shot, taken by a Magnum photographer being priced by his peers, so why be surprised?!

0 upvotes
beeguy956
By beeguy956 (Feb 27, 2013)

At least Capa had the good sense to make his photos convey drama and "realism" even when they were staged. This? It's a lousy picture even if the caption were true. Among other things, the guy appears to be holding a pump-action shotgun, which is not a typical sniper's weapon.

0 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (Feb 26, 2013)

Perhaps the photographer can be described with the words

1) Cheat
2) Liar
3) Fake
4) Fraud

Perhaps the judges can be described with the words

1) Suckers
2) Fools

There has always been fakers (Alexander Rodchenko for example). It's VERY hard to do it with film, and its usually in the print and not the negative. Soooo easy to do with digital and photoshop. Your imagination and lack of ethics are your only limit. All the photoshop fakers will be up in arms and together they claim "the old film guys did it!" With photoshop, faking is soooo easy! You try removing a small seagull from a clear blue sky on a 12" silver gelatine print? Go on digital fakers, have a go!

1 upvote
klopus
By klopus (Feb 26, 2013)

Misrepresentation isn't in image manipulation but in attributing reality and context . Problem with this photo has nothing to do with digital vs film and only shows that words can manipulate reality no less if not more than Photoshop.

0 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (Feb 26, 2013)

I wasn't going on about film vs digital. I use both myself. I was drawing a comparison between the two. Words as you say can manipulate and indeed create a reality. The difference is you know the created reality is not real, and if you don't it is generally called a lie. And that what this is, a lie. People generally don't like lies, but readily accept it when the lie is presented visually, often calling it creativity or art or indeed, photography. It is still a lie especially if you pass it off as the truth.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Feb 27, 2013)

You don't even need PS to cheat. If I took a photo of a plane gaining altitude, no newspaper in the World would buy it off me, but if I rotated it 90 degrees and put a caption underneath stating something like "The last view of the ABC-909 before it crashed", now that could sell some paper.
Ditto the naivity of anyone who buys the "sniper with a shotgun" goof.
But basically, anyone that cheats in any way is a CHEATER, and cheating is a CRIME, and crimes (should) produce lawful CONSEQUENCES. So why should ANYONE be excused from responsibility? There is no immunity in being a sucker or a fool.

0 upvotes
KariP
By KariP (Feb 26, 2013)

A falling soldier in 1936... very many of us remember the staged photograph from spanish civil war (by the famous Capa). So - this is a great temptation. A good photo needs an even better story. And if there is a good story - you can create a photograph to match it .

Of course the "truth" can sometimes need something extra, otherwise it does not come visible. I'm thinking about my "idol" W.Eugene Smith and his Minamata series. His carefully photographed art told the truth better than just some fast snapshots.
Moral is a difficult thing - mr Pellegrin does not get full 10 points from me. Not even close. He was not after the "truth" - what ever that is.... The image is well made.

1 upvote
Taikonaut
By Taikonaut (Feb 26, 2013)

I can tell he is no marine by the size of his waistline.
Looks more like a cabbie.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
Paul Storm
By Paul Storm (Feb 26, 2013)

Proof photojournalism is irrefutably BS.

1 upvote
Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Feb 26, 2013)

As a veteran of numerous computer games, my first thought was - why is a former Marine corps sniper posing with a shotgun? The caption can be read to imply that this is the weapon he used when he was in the army (that's why it's described as "his weapon", and not "his gun").

Apart from that, I don't think it works even divorced from the controversy. Some of the other photos in the series are genuinely arresting - numbers 18, 16, 13 remind me of the work of Eugene Smith - but this one feels passive, uninteresting, even in the context of the surrounding images. I see a healthy-looking, presumably not dirt-poor ordinary person holding a shotgun in an awkward way, looking at something we can't see. Seems a bit chubby to be a former marine, but I dunno, he might have put the weight on after leaving the army.

Of course, the problem is that if we can't trust this caption, how can we trust the others?

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (Feb 26, 2013)

There's definitely much better stuff to be seen in the "Challenges" section of DPReview...

3 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Feb 26, 2013)

Nothing new here. The late Ozzie Sweet had a friend pose as a surrendering German soldier for a news magazine cover shot. War zones or crime scenes are dangerous to shoot live. Cameras are easily mistaken for weapons. A camera can be more dangerous to the public perception of an even, and photographers have no national political lobby to protect them. In some US states, it is more culpable to tresspass on an unposted property with a camera than with a gun.

0 upvotes
facedodge
By facedodge (Feb 26, 2013)

The photographer responded.

https://nppa.org/node/36604

He also noted that he thinks legal possession of firearms causes crime... wonder if that had anything to do with the inspiration of his photo and why it won a contest.

5 upvotes
klopus
By klopus (Feb 26, 2013)

In a current hysterical anti-gun climate I'm sure you're totally right and the main reason not only why this photo has won but also why the author manipulated the caption.

4 upvotes
Keith
By Keith (Feb 26, 2013)

This just substantiates my belief that "contests" are extremely flawed, if not somewhat "rigged". The photographer could have, and should have checked the facts when he new his image was in the final stages of "judgement".

In this instance, content and context cannot or should not be separated.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
1 upvote
NJGarden
By NJGarden (Feb 26, 2013)

Completely agree. And the judges should have done their job better.

1 upvote
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