National Geographic’s Jennifer S. Holland talks the ethics of wildlife photography
posted Friday, January 17, 2014 at 3:32 PM EDT
The ethics of photography is something that we've talked about a lot here at the Imaging Resource, specifically amongst accusations that award winning photos were overly photoshopped. But a recent article on National Geographic has raised very different questions about photography ethics — specifically about the ethics of shooting images out in the wild.
Jennifer S. Holland is a contributor for National Geographic, and her piece is extremely interesting because she talks about more than just people abusing photoshop (which does happen), but also about leaving out food to entice animals to come nearer, about moving animals to places to get better shots, passing off tame animals as wild ones, and much more. Since the only hard lines in wildlife photography are based on whatever publication you happen to be submitting to or shooting for, a lot of discretion falls on the photographer themself to figure out their own views on what's an ethical way to treat a wild animal, and what isn't.
There's a lot to pick apart from Holland's piece, and a large amount of it is her own personal views on the subject matter — but there are definitely some solid takeaways that most people can agree with. Like not misrepresenting what you're shooting. There's nothing wrong with taking photos of an animal that's tame or in captivity, but pretending it's wild is lying to your viewers.
Wildlife photography can be an extremely tedious business, with hours spent waiting for animals, and easily missing that perfect shot. Which is one of the reasons why discussions like this are so important — so that after a long day waiting in the wet for that one shot, you're not tempted to fake it just a little, to get the image you were hoping for.
(image by Brian Turner, licensed under Creative Commons.)