Thursday, September 18, 2008

Public Expression or Propaganda?

Doctored pictures of John McCain that recently surfaced on renowned photographer Jill Greenberg's website have started a furor and sparked outrage from the GOP nominee's supporters and the "independent"media. The pics, shot for the October cover of the Atlantic Monthly, were later "photoshopped" capturing several very unflattering visuals (see above) of John McCain and caused one helluva firestorm in the process.

The text below is from Slate.Com
"The Atlantic offered an apology to John McCain this week after the photographer for the October cover, Jill Greenberg, posted doctored pictures of the Republican nominee on her personal Web site. It also emerged that Greenberg, a fierce anti-Republican, had photographed McCain for the magazine while he stood over a deliberately unflattering green light. In 2006, Jim Lewis discussed whether "the photographer who makes kids cry" unfairly exploits her subjects."

This a sample of what the Atlantic Monthly had to say about it:
Editors' Note
"We stand by the respectful image of John McCain that we used on our cover, and we expect to be judged by it. We were not aware of the manipulated and dishonest images Jill Greenberg had taken until this past Friday. When we contract with photographers for portraits, we don't vet them for their politics—instead, we assess their professional track records. We had never worked with Jill Greenberg before (and, obviously, we will not work with her again). Based on the portraits she had done of politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger and her work for publications like Time, Wired, and Portfolio, we expected her, like the other photographers we work with, to behave professionally. Jill Greenberg has obviously not done that. She has, in fact, disgraced herself, and we are appalled by the manipulated images of John McCain she has created for her Web site."

We're still 40-some days out and the circus has not even truly started.


Michaek said...

seems to me the issue isn't expression vs. propaganda, but simply professional ethics. (a photoshop job on a publically available image of mccain would not raise the same furor.) there's an expectation of trust between portrait photographer and subject, and it's clear greenberg has violated that expectation.

if it's known that sitting for jill greenberg means that the resulting image will be used in derivative (and disparaging!) works, then the ethics are clearer - however, it seems that wasn't clear to mccain or the atlantic. if she retained copyright of the photos she took of mccain, then she hasn't done anything illegal*, but she's likely done something unethical.

* but if you were the atlantic, wouldn't you use contracts with photographers restricting their retained copyright pretty narrowly? i don't know how this actually works.

Khari Mosley said...

It think it is poor form in general, I titled the blog as such to pique the interest of readers. I think it can be taken a bunch of different ways.