Ethics in Photography

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One of the major debates in photography at the moment concerns the use of Photoshop or similar tools for manipulating the look of images. The issue ranges from photojournalists editing out ascetically unpleasing elements from news images to the manipulation of models in fashion magazines.

Discussion: If you were offered good money to photograph before and after weight loss photos in the same day, how would you handle the situation? Have you encountered any other difficult ethical decisions as a photographer? Join the discussion:

In this short video, photographer Rick Shaff, shows us just how easy it is to produce misleading images, in particular before and after shots, commonly used in advertising from diet programs to muscle building drinks.

So easy it is using today’s advanced software that Rick demonstrates a before and after shot actually taken on the same day. For the first shot, an average looking model is asked to pose at his worst, stomach loose, bad posture etc. The with the help of a make up artist, the same model is reshot with a better posture and flat stomach. Then using some fairly simple Photoshop techniques, our average Joe is instantly transformed into a musclebound hunk, without going near an exercise machine or taking a protein drink.

photography ethics

Before and After Photos: Shot on the Same Day

So whether it is ethical or not comes down to what the publisher is trying to show, but certainly suggesting in a photograph something that has not actually happened, is a dubious and misleading practice and unfortunately quite commonplace. In many cases it comes down to the photographer to decide what is right or wrong.

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2 Comments

  1. Alonso Mitza says:

    For advertising, I don’t find it that bad. How else are they gonna sell their crappy stuff?

    I recently saw a video about how to fake a before and after shot similar to this one, so here it is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=M957dACQyfU

  2. CJT says:

    I’ve seen some Before and After shots where if you looked closely and knew what to look for, you could see that the real difference was in the posing of the model so that the model looks much better in the “After” photo.

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