My Moral Obligation

January 4, 2016

While doing a video workshop, there was a segment on smart phone pictures.   It was interesting, I don't take many pictures with my cell phone.   I am not a big fan of the quality but on occasion I manage to capture that decisive moment.  They won't necessarily print well in a large format, but again, it captured that decisive moment which to me that is part of the allure of photography.

It seems now that no matter where you go up go those cell phones and everyone is snapping away,  selfies to put themselves in the scene and snapping those compromising moments or unflattering shots of their friends.  If you take your thumb and put it up in the air in front of the moon, you can virtually cover that moon and hide it.   When your arms are extended in the that camera phone stance you can virtually block an entire stage with your body and phone from anyone behind you.   

Some difficult situations are really not meant to be photographed.   I see on Facebook pictures of motor vehicle accidents that show the mangled  motorcycle and bodies spread around the scene.   Family members do not need to be informed by social media of a loved one injured or possibly killed in an accident. Not too long ago I found out about a niece's death that way, it was not pleasant!

A few years ago my sister and I were wandering around downtown Plymouth and at the church there were a massive amount of cars and vehicles and a hearse.   It was the funeral of a young man who was incredibly well known in the community.  The fire department were there with trucks and the huge flag and the men in their dress uniforms.   The young man was in the Coast Guard Academy and his fellow students were there in dress uniforms.   It truly was an amazing site and my sister and I snapped a few photos from the sidelines, trying to keep a respectful distance.   The mother of this young man came out of the church.   The scene was heart wrenching, the epitome of human heartache.  As photographers this would have been an amazing capture but we both looked at each other and said no, this is not appropriate.  She doesn't need to see her face plastered on the internet at this time of ultimate sorrow.   So cameras down we respectfully stood and this family's most devastating moment.  The photos we took earlier of the scene were enough to document the moment.  After all, we aren't news journalists, we don't need to capture this moment.

So please, be thoughtful of when and where you shoot and think carefully of what you share on the internet.

BE IN THE MOMENT - sometimes you need to sit back and enjoy.   You don't need to record every second and sometimes its just fun to participate instead of documenting, you truly can not do both well!  

BE RESPECTFUL - take care in what you post, that unflattering picture could really hurt someone's feelings or their self image.   We might think its funny but that person may be devastated.  That accident could involve someone within your circle of friends and you don't want them to find out about it from your post of a "Wicked Bad Accident happened and I got stuck and had to wait 30 minutes in traffic - it sucked"  

Those out of focus, crooked photos, to dark you can't recognize anyone are not fun to look at, don't post them, just because you took them does not mean you need to share the bad ones or ten of the exact same shot.

Okay, so much for my soapbox today, but I really think this is important stuff.  


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