Wednesday, 5 December 2012

POV: The Subway Picture

Appalling and disgusting. How else can anyone describe this? The New York Post, known for its sensationalism, and one of the rags belonging to Rupert Murdoch, has deservedly earned the opprobrium of every sentient being.

What does it have to do with travel and documentary photography? Nothing, other than it involves a so-called "freelance photojournalist", who through his action in taking this horrific picture, sullied the profession's reputation...which wasn't that stellar in the first place.

I saw a post on Facebook linking to an article published on Gawker bearing the title of Would You Have Taken The Subway Photo? asking that question to a bunch of Pulitzer-winning photographers.

I don't give a rat's ass what the Pulitzer winning photographers think, or what they would have done. Does winning the Pulizer prize bestow upon them more morality than the rest of us? This has nothing to do with taking a picture. This has to do with being a human being. And don't take me for a fool by saying that it was the duty of a photojournalist to document such an event.

I can only judge others' action by what I would have done had I been in this "photographer's" shoes.

I would've been frozen in my tracks at the horrifying scene unfolding in front of me over the course of 20 seconds...there's an infinitesimal chance that I might have run towards the man in a doomed impulse to do something...but I suspect I would've been transfixed at what I was about to witness. The last thing on my mind would've been to raise a camera and take a picture.

But let's pretend my nerves are made of steel, that I'm a hard-core photojournalist on the NYC subway beat for a while, and that I took the picture. I would have never given the picture(s) to the New York Post. Never.

But let's assume that I had to...perhaps because I'm a hardened hard-core photojournalist, or because of a contractual obligation that prevented me from deleting pictures, or because I felt the need to give them to the NYPD.  I would have refused to take a red cent for it.

But let's pretend that I lost my moral compass for a moment and took the money. I would regain it and give the money to the victim's kin to defray the burial cost, and try to cleanse my soul.

Yes, Mr R. Umar need to cleanse your soul. And don't describe yourself as a "photojournalist".

As for The New York know what you are. I won't waste time telling you what you already know.