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Photographer Alleges Unearthing of Bodies

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From the international photographer’s forum lightstalkers.org, photojournalist Bryan Denton, in a message from Beirut Lebanon, describes the most vile sort of photo staging imaginable: Lightstalkers :: Staged Shots from Lebanon? Please comment…

i have been working in lebanon since all this started, and seeing the behavior of many of the lebanese wire service photographers has been a bit unsettling. while hajj has garnered a lot of attention for his doctoring of images digitally, whether guilty or not, i have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one case where a group of wire photogs were choreographing the unearthing of bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms. these photographers have come away with powerful shots, that required no manipulation digitally, but instead, manipulation on a human level, and this itself is a bigger ethical problem.

whatever the case is—lack of training, a personal drive as a photographer to show what is happening to your country in as powerful a way as possible, or all out competitiveness, i think that the onus is on the wire services themselves, because they act as the employer/filter of their photogs work. standards should be in place or else the rest of us end up paying the price. and i’m not against the idea of local wire photographers, but after seeing it over and over for the past month, i think it is something that is worth addressing. while i walk away from a situation like that, one wire shooter sets up a situation, and the rest of them follow…….

by Bryan Denton Fri Aug 11 07:36:08 UTC 2006 | Beirut, Lebanon

By the way, I recommend reading the entire linked thread to see the prevalent attitudes of the photojournalists posting there. It’s not very different from a Daily Kos thread.

UPDATE at 8/12/06 3:13:24 pm:

Bryan Denton’s work has appeared in The New York Times.

UPDATE at 8/12/06 4:15:12 pm:

Denton posted again later in the thread after being harshly criticized by the other photographers, and softened his stance but did not back off from his allegation. And notice: in the later post he says this was not an isolated incident.

hi all,

sorry to have not been specific. just to make this clear. i was not in qana and am not referring to the massacre that took place there. i have been covering beirut, and it was at numerous protest, evacuations as well as the israeli strikes in chiyeh, which unfortunately did not get that much coverage in the media—where i saw this behavior occur. i have also heard from friends of mine in lebanon, respected photographers, that this was not an isolated incident.

unfortunately in each of these cases, it was the lebanese wire photographers that started these situations. that said, i am not trying to make generalizations. i know that there are a number of dedicated and brilliant lebanese photographers here who are putting themselves in extremely dangerous situations in order to document what is happening here in their country, and in hindsight, i realize it was irresponsible for me to post the previous statement because it was not specific enough. however, this has been something i’ve noticed happening here, more than any other place i’ve worked previously.

i agree that there is a lot of pressure, particularly on stringers (i myself am a freelancer), due to cost cutting and how the big image banks pay their non-staff photographers, and while unfortunate events like qana and chiyeh require the utmost responsiblity, seeing it happen for things like protests and evacuations is equally as disturbing and doesn’t bode well.

again, i am terribly sorry for rattling the saber so hard….re-reading my words I too should have been a bit more responsible.

by Bryan Denton Fri Aug 11 16:27:35 UTC 2006 | Beirut, Lebanon

It’s all beginning to come out in the open now.

UPDATE at 8/12/06 4:24:47 pm:

Photos from Chiyeh (alt. “Chiyah”) at Yahoo! News.

UPDATE at 8/12/06 4:48:44 pm:

Allahpundit has more. Ace breaks out the flaming skull.

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