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Wednesday, 06 September 2017

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Or, impersonating an airline pilot like like Frank Abignale, Jr.

A few years ago there was a man in Buenos Aires that had a fake surgeon's degree. When the media exposed him, he had been "working" for almost twenty years and was in charge of the Argerich, one of the biggest hospitals in the city.
It was a major scandal, but the weird(est) part is that most of his past patients spoke on his behalf.
He went to school, got a real degree, and kept working. The hospital obviously fired him though.

"At least he wasn't impersonating a surgeon...."

Thank you.

John Camp said: "So why should people risk their lives for such ephemeral, and often misleading, portrayals of war? My answer, more and more, is that they shouldn't ...

I tend to agree. The big story out of Libya was Tim Hetherington's death, not Colonel Gaddafi's.

Here's a good exaple of what local citizens can do with their cell phones http://abc7.com/news/small-plane-crashes-on-405-near-john-wayne-airport/2167965/ when staff photographers are not there.

...although Quilty himself says: "The more this conflict spirals downhill, it makes me think more and more carefully about how worthwhile taking risks to document it is." https://detourspodcast.com/episodes/2017/6/6/episode-2-andrew-quilty

I'm of a like mind to John Camp's thoughts concerning the value of "conflict" photography and the practical motivations for those who risk their lives to gather them.

But that's a separate matter. It's largely irrelevent what Eduardo Martins impersonated, isn't it? It was an act that revealed a pitifully weak character. But that he was able to pull it off as long and deeply as he did also reveals some very slack characters in that chain. But we do live in an era of impersonation, perhaps more than ever. Remember the famous cartoon "On the Internet nobody knows you're a dog."?

Is John Camp suggesting to stop with independant journalism and trust our governments to tell is the (true) story...?

As an aside... For those that can get it (and don't mind signing up) there's a BBC radio interview with Don McCullin here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b092m9j6) about his own treatment for the stresses for conflict photography.

John, consider the photos of the rescue operations as Houston flooded. The local papers had photographers seemingly everywhere, CNN sent their people. They all lent a hand as well as documenting better than cell phones could. And they were themselves at risk. While this didn't stop the tide from coming in, it certainly has contributed a great warm feeling, generated an immediate burst of contributions in time to alleviate the most immediate problems, and caused pressure in Washington that may unblock certain legislative logjams. And there have been some pictures that I will not soon forget.

I like John Camp's comment although I think it applies to pencil journalists more than ever.

The way people interpret images is so different between 1967 and 2017 and I think in a positive way.... No longer is LIFE magazine the arbitrator of truth.

You may see the pictures and clips of a Dodge Charger plowing through a crowd in Charlottesville as a case of Nazi aggression while I'll take it as a scared schizophrenic kid trying to get away from murderous protesters who want to kill him for his beliefs. Only by having an basic photographic awareness of cropping, editing, and subjectivity could we both have such different takes on the same images. For many people in 1967 simply did not have this awareness.

@ JC- Sure, valid enough. But to keep it short- if you're gonna reduce life to just what affects you personally (and granted, most people operate just like that), Fk: science, The Enlightenment, The Renaissance, art, etc... And we can all go back to living our myopic, little lives within our castle walls, which is exactly what the citizens of some countries are choosing now.

Re: John Sanford's remarks - Wow. He's a good writer and that's why I read his books.
Errol Flynn's son Sean was famous for a second or two as a Vietnam Nam war photographer. But his photos were few and not spectacular. His disappearance into the jungle, never to be seen again, was more remembered. Probably not so much now.
Photographers today need another photographer to go with them to record their being there. Otherwise, they would only need the latest and greatest iPhone for selfies of their ego in action.
This just qualify me to be in Mr. Sanford's a-hole club.

John Camp wrote: "Martins' photos are as good as anyone else's. Maybe even better. They were taken without anyone stupidly risking their life for, essentially, an ephemeral photograph that nobody will look at for more than a few seconds."

Yes, they are as good as anyone else's because they are someone else's. And they are actual conflict photos taken by actual conflict photographers. All the thief did was flip or slightly alter an image and claim it as his own. Many people risked their lives to get those images; it just wasn't Martins. There's no justification for what he did.

For me, this incident has echoes of personal branding and so-called reality TV taken to extremes. Who would give a damn about some photojournalist from Muncie, Indiana photographing car accidents and the occasional house fire? But who can resist a handsome young Brazilian surfer who just recovered from leukemia (helps balance all that wonderfulness with vulnerability and sympathy, after all) and still puts his life as risk to document The Things That Matter? The irony is that in this sort of "you are your image" zone, the actual images (i.e. the photos) become an afterthought.

War reporters are victims of their own success. Ah, the fickle public who become immune to the carnage of war. No wonder some mope comes along and decides why bother risking your life. In fact, I often wonder why anyone would risk their lives for such an ungrateful, lazy, navel-gazing public.

Meanwhile so-called citizen journalists are easily compromised by local factions for whom they become a propaganda wing. Embedded journalists stick to camp and cover their stories from military press releases. This, folks, is what is called reality.

And then you see the work of someone like Moises Saman and you remember what a great photographer is capable of: https://www.wired.com/2013/09/moises-saman/

You cover wars because you feel you are doing something worthwhile with your photography.

A factor John Camp is probably more aware, at least more aware from visceral personal experience, of, than most of us, is the pressure on young journalists to distinguish themselves from the crowd. Don't see how that can't be a factor in how many take huge risks in war journalism.

But, if we're allowed to fabricate any photos we like without being called on it, both sides will do it, and the landscape will, I suspect, change drastically -- what people think of war will be shifted.

I think I'm in the John Camp camp here, but for possibly a slightly different reason. War/disaster coverage in the news media today feels a bit too much like entertainment. I get an uneasy feeling watching war coverage on TV that networks are trying to boost ratings by drowning us in sensational images. I don't quite have that feeling when reading about war/famine/natural disasters in a newspaper.

Two brief thoughts (well, brief for me anyway):

1. If we are concerned about manipulation and bias among professional photojournalists, it seems to be that we should be much more concerned about manipulation and bias among amateur photographers. I am absolutely NOT suggesting this is what happened in Syria, but if you are mired in a conflict and want to attract sympathy to your cause, how hard is it to do exactly what Eduardo Martins did? Find a couple pictures of war atrocities online, reverse them, and claim that the pictured atrocities were committed by your foes? Pictures like that CAN influence public opinion, even if they often don't. But when they do, they can lead to military intervention. Do we want U.S. military planes on bombing runs to retaliate against a faked war crime? Some healthy skepticism of journalists may be warranted, but I'm much more inclined to trust photos from professional photographers working for respected publications.

2. I think a large part of why war photographs have lost their impact isn't due to media overload or the generic nature of war photographs or the lack of a distinctive photographic style. I think it is due to editing. Major news organizations are hesitant to show too much gore and the military actively tries to suppress pictures of wounded and dead soldiers. While I didn't live through the Vietnam war, my impression is that photojournalists published extended photo essays that showed the toll on both sides of that war. Today we generally get pictures of bombed out buildings (without any victims visible), pictures of bodies taken from far away, with no significant blood showing and faces turned away from the camera, and pictures of well-equipped U.S. soldiers moving into position. I'm not saying other photos don't exist, but they rarely run prominently in the major news publications. THAT is what has robbed war photography of its impact.

I have to say John Camp's comments sickened me. It epitomizes the general thinking today where anything, no matter how horrendous can be justified. There is no moral anchor, no true north. The fact that he essentially says that if that journalist had been raped and tortured... well it was her fault, is beyond belief. What's worse is that so many others are nodding their heads in agreement.

In the Quilty interview I posted above, he talks about finding his way into a destroyed MSF facility, finding and photographic a horrifically poignant scene of a local man killed on the operating table. But then he talks about how it took another week to find and talk to the surgeon and get the detail of the procedure he was in for, and then the man's wife and children, and to note the impact on them.

One thing that still strikes me about professionals, is their commitment and ability (and obviously this varies by the professional and outlet involved) to track down the particulars of the story, because that's the job — to look outside the scope of the first person story.

If the family in question had access to smartphone media and were journalistically inclined, perhaps they could have told this story themselves? Or maybe they couldn't have? Or maybe they could have but would not have reached anyone but local followers, who have no ability to impact the opinions that shape the policy behind the occupying force.

On-the-ground local media and professional bureau coverage can certainly compliment each other.

“It’s what I do” that’s important; Lynsey Addario photographing history as honestly as she can. We need people out there making records of what’s happening. Expecting her pictures to change history is maybe her expecting too much but if she isn’t there, there’s no chance at all. What’s depressing about the Eduardo Martins story is that the editors who accepted his pictures probably thought much like John Camp, that “of the millions of people who have seen those photos, … few will ever be aware that they were fakes. Fewer will really care.” Just another “oops” by the mainstream media.

John Camp seems to be saying "unless it happened in America or, better yet, my garden, I don't really take much notice". Which, ok, is honest, but perhaps betokens the shrinking horizons associated with ageing rather than being the way the world is heading. Besides, more destructive of journalistic integrity and influence than altering social attitudes is likely to be the military's control of its own image and the practice of "embedding" journalists within particular units.

Eduardo Martins is not a fraud - he doesn't exist. The photos are of someone else (who has now been identified), and the most interesting thing about this whole story is not that HE was a fraud war photographer, but that someone invented a fictitious war photographer, made him famous, then baled when they got caught.

Voltz

Well, we are living in a 'post-factual' age where people scream "Fake news" if the news doesn't fit in with the world view they are trying to promulgate and the internet has enough loons ready to claim pictures are faked (set-up or 'shopped) as part of some world-wide conspiracy (that only they have sussed out) to keep the 'sheeple' under the control of the Masons/Bilderberg/Illuminati/Lizard creatures from Alpha Centauri/whatever, so yeah, why bother?

I agree with Jim a 100%. I am just not that articulate.

Great and cautionary Internet fraud story here Mike, with a helping hand from the phony side of Photoshop - a photographer who never existed but was able to convince others of the veracity of his stolen and doctored images without hardly trying, or so it appears. "His/he" - of course the fraudster could be a she. Further details may be elusive but we'll see.

Meanwhile, we have a set of bogus interviews conducted over email or social media, images provided of a surfer dude in his early thirties (somewhat reminiscent of Nick Nolte - perhaps not coincidentally, though "Under Fire" was quite a few years ago), all used to build up a personage worthy of Hollywood and dupe a number of major photographic agencies or content-relayers into providing payments, never made in person of course, no face to face contact or conversation needed.

Funny that it took so long for one of the real photographers to notice his work was tampered with and sold a second time; we don't hold onto our war-zone images very tightly it seems once they've found their ephemeral market. A meta story for our times and then some.

Does anyone remember that Robert Capa, the very first of the war photogs to wrap personal heroism into the fabric of his pictures, got his start by selling his pictures under the false flag of the "American war photographer, Robert Capa?" (which wasn't his name until then.) But he took his pictures, although staging them was still legal back then.

Crazy story, but it doesn't surprise me. People want to believe in the incredible and in the unbelievable. When they see a handsome guy, heard he survived leukemia, they'll believe anything. They don't question, they won't look and examine up close.

People still believe in Capa's staged photos, offtopic now since I'm a sports fan- they believed in Lance Armstrong who survived cancer and became a cycling god overnight. Photography doesnt have financial rewards like pro sports, if it did we'd have a lot more people like "Eduardo Martins".

And the worst thing is people will still believe next time it happens.

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