Integrity in photography

On an online forum there was thread created by a person wondering who owned ‘the rights’ to an image where they had setup the lighting, established the camera settings, posed the subject and then someone else took a photograph ‘over their shoulder’. This is a situation that frequently happens for wedding photographers, at ‘group shoots’ where a number of photographers are involved and on training courses. Increasingly people who run training courses who will do things in one of 2 ways:

– make it clear that images taken during the training sessions cannot be used for self-publicity

– do the above but also provide some time when the trainee starts from scratch with the lighting and the model and is then allowed to use those photographs since they are then responsible for the outcome of those photos and integrity is maintained

When I set things up for local camera clubs and other groups I make sure that there is only one active trigger when using flash. Someone else might use the limited ambient or their own on-camera flash but they are not using the lighting that I have setup. When I do a setup with my HMIs then more can make use of the lighting setup. When using setups that have been done for you people need to consider how much input they have made to make that image their own.

If someone advertises their product without having the skills and equipment to re-create the images they are using then they are being misleading. In some countries that is a legal infringement. I know a local studio that tried to get into the Prom event market by using some photos taken with a few people over an hour or so in a studio. Very different conditions from an actual event with all of the compromises and pressure that is present. If they had declared in their advertising that the sample photographs were not taken at an event then I’d be accepting of that, particularly since they were not better than photos I get from actual events. However, they did not make it clear. To counter that I make it clear that my promotional photographs for events were taken live and emphasise experience.

You get the same thing happening with posed wedding photoshoots that are not part of an actual wedding or a commission.

Integrity in photography includes being able to produce with a very high degree of reliability what you put in your shop window. If the images are just from training sessions then the photographer might not even have the equipment to be able to reproduce such images themselves. If the images are made to look as though they are from an event but instead are set-up publicity, how do you know if the person is able to replicate that at an actual event ?

By William Brown

Photographer and educator based in North Staffordshire near to Stoke-on-Trent. Social photography - Portraits, Weddings and Events are specialisms although I used to do a lot of still life photography with which I was very successful.