Ethics in Photography, According to the Oxford English dictionary, ethics mean a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct. No matter in which profession we belong to, maintaining honesty and ethics is very important.
On top of that, if the profession is as catchy as photography, then being honest and maintaining ethics is even more important.
In the era of modern photography, many photographers do not care much about what they should do and what they should not.
Definition of Ethics in Photography
There are hundreds of things to take care of when photographers do their shoots or work in the field. Among the hundreds, today I will discuss a few basic ethics which should be must-follow ones.
Do not steal:
There is a very famous proverb saying a thief is a thief whether he steals a diamond or a cucumber. And, trust me, nobody can become rich – neither financially nor mentally – by stealing. Unfortunately, in the photography industry, thieves are everywhere. Some will steal your creative work directly without any prior notice or mentioning your credit to the image.
This has been happening for quite a long time now and that too throughout the industry beyond borders.
However, it is not very uncommon to have similar thoughts among the thousands of photographers worldwide. Being that said, there are certain cases where you can clearly understand that few works are copied from other genuine files.
Try not to copy or steal others’ ideas. This is harmful to both you and the person you are stealing the idea from.
Say no to plagiarism:
There are two kinds of thieves – thieves and smart thieves. Wondering how does that make sense? Well, there are a few people who show their smartness by changing the directly stolen products.
For example, they will not directly steal your images and post it with their names. Instead, they will steal the idea or the uniqueness of your images and recreate it with very little change to make it their very own products.
This is plagiarism.
Stealing someone else’s idea and creating something on the basis of that has a really bad impact on the industry as it may change the mindset of creative people. And, this can kill the innovative photography industry.
Manipulate photos within limit:
There is a huge controversy regarding the image manipulation team. Some experts say photo manipulation should not fall under ethical practices. Besides, some support this as it enhances product quality.
Putting all controversies aside, photo manipulation is a part of photography nowadays and one of the most important parts of post-production work. To some extent, photo manipulation is needed to be done for both photographers and consumers.
We should remember that photo manipulation is not bad as long as it is done for the betterment of the images without changing the heart or meaning of those. If we manipulate images so much that it loses its main concept then that should definitely be a crime.
No change in documentaries:
We should never manipulate the images in case of news, reportage, and documentaries as news outlets nowadays heavily rely on images and videos. The multimedia presentation is the most lucrative way of presenting news to the mass audience.
However, if photojournalists start manipulating the images that become the news sources later on then that can turn into a real threat to the right to information of the mass people.
Images which are used for serving news should never be manipulated as that may create a massive misunderstanding among the people and cause massive trouble for both individuals and the state.
Retouching with limitations:
photo retouching is one of the most used techniques of Photoshop due to the fashion industry. You can barely find images published in the fashion industry without retouching. Mostly the images of models, along with the products on him/her, get retouch for better looks and maximum sell.
However, we should not retouch the models and products so much that it loses its natural look. That is where it goes unethical. Otherwise, doing the post-production work – retouching – is very much ethical and should be done for the images’ betterment.
Do retouching within the limit and be proud of your ethics. Otherwise, there is enough to be worried about.
Do not destroy the nature:
Who does not like having a peaceful look at an image which contains a beautiful artwork of mother nature? There are hundreds of parts of the earth where people become mesmerized by the beauty of the mother nature.
To make this beautiful nature even more unique, many photographers manipulate their images so much that they destroy the natural look of that particular place. This should not be ethical and is something that should not be practiced among photographers.
Here are some of the things photographers should maintain as their ethical standard. Besides, there are hundreds of other things to look at.
Most importantly, in different cases, you have to decide if some work is ethical or unethical but none of us should do a thing that would harm someone else or pass wrong information to people.
If you disagree with me in any of the mentioned points above please feel free to leave a comment and challenge me. I would love to explain my points.
I hope these ethical issues get solved as soon as possible and a basic standard of ethics remains among all the professional and passionate photographers.