North American Nature Photography Association

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Ethics Committee

Member Responses to the Articles

Ralph Arwood
Naples, FL

While I find the continued discussion of photo manipulation amusing, it is time for NANPA to move on to more important ethical issues. The entire discussion implies that there is some inherent truth or honesty in a photograph. This is not the case whether a photograph is "manipulated" or not.

As you note on your [Michael Frye's] website your photograph "are not literal representations of reality", this is true of all photographs. We start with a three dimensional world in a state of constant change and make a two dimensional static image. The image is recorded on film that cannot reproduce all of the colors that we see and rarely matches any of the colors seen. The exposure latitude is far less than what the human eye sees and is standardized on the light in Rochester, New York. The perspective and angle of view are rarely the same as the human eye and the depth of field is never the same. All of this is just the beginning, every step in the entire process from developing the film to the final printing changes the "reality" of the image.

We need to be honest when we caption our photographs. You do not label a polar bear as wild when it was taken in your local zoo, but the ethics and honesty are in what you clam the photograph represents not in the photograph itself.

Now can we move on to more important ethical issues, like not endangering our subject to get a better picture. Not causing an animal to alter it's behavior because we got too close to it trying to get a better picture. Then we can work on land management and urban growth.

Jay Goodrich
Vail, CO

I just finished reading the Ethics of Manipulating Photos and of course have some thoughts. The main reason that I became a photographer is to be able to express myself artistically. Webster's defines an artist as 1. a person who works in or is skilled in any of the fine, especially graphic, arts. Does this not make all photographers artists? I think most photographers don't feel that they are artists. With that said I believe that an artist discovers his or her own likes and uses them to create to their best ability. Mr. Sanford is a perfect example of an artist, but so Mr. Ward. Kennan's creativity comes in the field and Ron's in the computer. Which is right? They both are. They are both using their artistic ideals to create.

Do I feel that shooting captive animals is an ethical dilemma? Not really, provided the artist discloses truth in creation. I have always found honesty to be the best policy. Using captive animals allows photographers to be artists without stressing wild animals and without hunting down rare and endangered species. It is important that the ranches where we are photographing are not abusing the animals and that the animal's homes are places that allow for them to be animals. Most ranches of captive animals take a portion of the proceeds that they charge us photographers and use it to help indigenous wildlife. Is that not a good thing? How many cougars have you seen in the wild? I live in cougar country and have yet to see one in the wild. Again disclosure and honesty make the images we create more valuable than lying and being found out.

A few months ago I was talking with Galen Rowell about this subject. He was concerned about dropping the moon in value in one of his images of Mount Everest at sunset. This image showed the moon as white spec and the dropped one showed the moon as it really appeared with craters and definition. He did not want to alter the image. Why not? He was willing to disclose it, and he was willing to offer the original to his clients if the manipulated image did meet their desires. I do not understand this apprehension of today's photographers to not use the technology available to them. Our predecessors did it, why can't we?

Kennan stated that people often ask him, “Is this photograph real?” Instead of, “How did you get this picture?” To this I respond, we as photographers have a responsibility to educate the disbelievers, especially when it is the general public questioning our methods and ideals. Are the true photographs not real? Are the manipulated images not real? It is all real, is it not?

Personally, I would rather remove a stick in Photoshop, then move that stick from its location in nature. That is if I could not find a better angle that would not include said stick at all.

If you sit down and really think about it, the artist (photographer) shows you what he or she wants you to see, whether it be manipulated or not. It is all art and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We should not think of an image as real or not, but rather as an image that captures a place in our hearts, our minds, and our souls. That is what makes a photograph; can we do that in the field, or in the computer? That all depends on who the artist is.

Why Not Manipulation
by Ron Sanford

What Happens When We Manipulate Images
by Kennan Ward

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