I’m A Press Photographer & Very Proud Of It

The Leveson Inquiry

*Stands up from the gathered folk sat on chairs in a circle in the community centre hall* My name is Edmond Terakopian and I’m a press photographer of 22 years. Following the Leveson Inquiry, anyone would think that being a press photographer in this country is wrong and the devil’s work and that we’re all villains. Well, I’m Edmond Terakopian, a press photographer and extremely proud of it.

On assignment for AP, covering the 46664 Concert: In Celebration of Nelson Mandela's Life. Hyde Park, London. June 27, 2008. Photo ©

Wave after wave of celebrities (and others) with their own personal agendas (always interesting to look back on the ethics and behaviour of such people as they attempt to take the moral high ground) have been giving testimonials on press intrusion. The unfortunate thing is that this has gone from press intrusion (for which there are some very valid cases) to a witch hunt against photographers. The paparazzi  who are making life hell for those in the spotlight are now in the spotlight. I personally have no major issue with this as I have witnessed the behaviour of the paparazzi and hate what they have done to the industry I so love. People in their ignorance, and the wider media (reporters, both in newspapers, radio and TV) who know better, are branding every press photographer a paparazzi. This is absolutely wrong and a disgrace. Another disgrace is the way some reporters are trying to distance themselves from press photographers by pointing fingers! I’d like to remind these small minded print journalists that without pictures to illustrate and highlight stories, most stories would either go unread or will at best lack impact. A newspaper without strong and interesting photography would indeed be extremely boring and I would suggest, will not sell. To my colleagues in TV I would like to say that we are all journalists; some use a TV camera, others a microphone, some a camera and others a keyboard. If by all this ridiculous finger pointing and sensationalising that’s going on, carries on and laws are passed, this will effect the entire industry. The whole notion of freedom of press will be in dire peril. Be responsible and please be careful. Perhaps all of this is being done on purpose by some news editors to help shift the public’s attention away from the phone hacking and unethical journalism which is the question at the core of the inquiry?

Allow me to remind everyone what press photographers do; remember the ultimate sacrifices made by our colleagues over the years as they put their lives on the line and cover conflict and inhumanity around the world. Let me remind you of luckier colleagues who ‘only’ lost limbs whilst doing this most honourable of jobs. Don’t tar us all with this brush.

The funniest thing of all though is that on the whole, a paparazzi has a higher income than a press photographer does – yes, even those that risk their lives in conflict zones. The reason for this is simply that the public buy newspapers and magazines that carry this material. As a result, papers and magazines pay top whack for this material. The biggest selling publications are those that run this rubbish; it’s a question of supply and demand. Stop buying this trash and the market for paparazzi pictures will shrink. To the finger pointing public who find it funny to throw abuse at photographers and call us paps, take a look in the mirror and see which publications you and you families buy; you may well find that you’re funding this issue you’re so outraged by. I hasten to add that my colleagues who are celebrity photographers aren’t tarred with this brush either. Honourable and skilled photographers who cover premieres and parties, all by invitation, who are a huge part of the image building of actors and singers.

I’m worried by this inquiry as it has been extremely one sided. So far, neither the NUJ (I have now found out the NUJ has are a statement at the inquiry, but very early on, and before the entire thing turned into an anti-photographer campaign; please see the bottom of this article) or BPPA have been invited to speak. There are also a huge number of politicians who were stung because of the recent MPs expenses scandal. This group of people I’m guessing would jump at any opportunity to try and pass into law some of the ludicrous suggestions made by some at the inquiry.

One cannot have a democracy without a free press. If we can’t do our jobs, bring corruption, injustice and inhumanity before the eyes of the world, just imagine to what depths society can sink to.

I would suggest those who at this point are shrugging their shoulders to go and get a few good photojournalistic books and imagine a UK history where such a book does not exist as these images could not be taken. Then get a few books on street photography and imagine a situation where this sociological history was not documented in the UK.

There is no excuse for bad journalism; fiction or sensationalism should not see the light of day in our papers or TV news segments. However, there is a credible danger that we may end up ruining the people’s right to a free press. Imagine a country where the government is not held to account by the media, or one where criminals get away with all sorts without being shown in the media. There are many consequences to this.

World Press Photo in de Oude Kerk. Press Photographers (L-R) Chris Hondros (who was sadly killed on assignment in Libya, 2011), Mohamad Azakir, Ben Smith and Edmond Terakopian with their awards for the Spot News and Spot News Stories categories. Photo: Bastiaan Heus

My colleague Christopher Pledger has put a lot of what’s been on my mind perfectly in his open letter, which I’m reproducing with permission, in full below:

Christopher Pledger: Press Photography and the Leveson Inquiry

“The testimony of witnesses this week at the Leveson inquiry has included damning condemnation of the behaviour of the paparazzi. Both the celebrity and ‘ordinary’ victims of phone hacking have told of being chased, spat at and terrified by photographers. These experiences could have fatal consequences for the news photographer, a vital part of a truly free press

There are important distinctions to be made between a paparazzo and a press photographer. A comparison of the two is like that between the cowboy builder and a professional tradesman. It is also important to distinguish between the paparazzi and celebrity photographers. Celebrity photographers work with the permission, and often to the benefit of, their subjects. This can range from red carpet premieres to organised and set up photo shoots of a celebrity out shopping or on the beach. I do not class them in my definition of paparazzi. Lacking moral or ethical guidance the paparazzi work with little respect for the law. The composition, quality, or origin of a photograph is a distant second to its commercial value. Paparazzi agencies will often employ people with little or no knowledge of photography. The agency will provide cameras with settings taped over so they cannot be changed. It is not a photographer that is sent out of the office, simply a man with a camera.

Press photographers by contrast are skilled professionals with years of training and experience. They work within the strict guidelines of both the Press Complaints Commission and their newspaper or news agency. These guidelines include respecting both peoples right to privacy and the boundaries of private property. A good news photograph will be technically excellent and able to tell the story in a single frame. In contrast to the paparazzi financial rewards are low.

This is not to imply that all press photographers are angelic super-humans working to expose the truth to an unwitting public. Like any industry there are a minority of ‘rogue traders’ who are prepared to bend or break the rules to get a picture.

The problem for legitimate press photographers is they are seen as no different from the paparazzi. Regardless of the assignment they are covering all press photographers now experience regular abuse from strangers in the street. When photographing something as mundane as a the outside of a high street bank it is not uncommon to hear shouts of ‘pap scum’ or ‘leave them alone’ from passers by. If a group of press photographers are gathered outside a court or government building the first question asked by curious passers-by is not ‘what’s happening?’ but ‘which famous person is coming?’.

The problem of public perception stems from two different sources, celebrity magazine culture and television news. The dominant celebrity culture makes it hard to avoid a constant stream of images cataloguing the daily lives of the A to Z list. It is no surprise that the general public perceive the primary role of photographers as being to feed this machine. The problem is complicated by disreputable publications being prepared to buy pictures on a ‘no questions asked’ basis. This makes it hard to distinguish between photographers working in a professional way and those who aren’t.

Television news coverage is the other major factor in the problem of perception. During most stories a clip of press photographers is included as a ‘cut away’ shot to add visual interest. If the clip includes the subject of a story being surrounded by the media reporters will often refer to a scrum of photographers. This ignores the numerous TV cameras both in the scrum and filming from a distance. This has been demonstrated during TV reports on the Leveson inquiry. Press photographers have been working from an official area behind a barrier to give witnesses arriving space. TV reports have consistently referred to ‘hordes of photographers’ while ignoring the seven video cameras surrounding witnesses as they arrive. By using these tactics TV news aim to draw a distinction between the dirty press and the clean media. In doing so they may perhaps be driving the Leveson inquiry toward concluding tough privacy laws are required, privacy laws that will include a ban on photographing people in public without their permission.

A ban of this type would be the death of the free press in the UK. Current guidelines require that individuals should not be photographed while they have ‘a reasonable expectation of privacy’. In practical terms this means anyone in a public place can be photographed without permission, as they cannot expect privacy in a public space. If laws were introduced requiring the written consent of an individual before they were photographed, it would mean press photographers would have to ignore events unfolding before them. Some of the biggest news stories in the last year could not have been reported. Pictures of Charlie Gilmour swinging from the Cenotaph would have been taken illegally, likewise pictures of Oliver Letwin disposing of government documents in a park bin. Press photographers would be as ham strung as reporters prevented from covering stories of public interest that are subject to super injunctions.

The problem of finding a solution that avoids this type of privacy law is extremely difficult. Legitimate press photographers already have licensed press cards that are required to be shown to work in places like Downing Street. This system has not stopped any of the behaviour reported this week, or prevented the use of faked press cards. Digital cameras are cheap and easy to use making it hard for anybody to distinguish between professional and amateur, press photographer and paparazzo. If 99 out of 100 photographers comply with a code of conduct, one will always break the rules and tar the rest with the same brush. Introducing government or police regulation and control over licensing of press photographers would affect impartiality and freedom.

It would be very hard to argue that there can be no changes following the Leveson inquiry. We must be very careful what these changes are and where they will take us. Press photographers are in danger of being so restrained by regulation that we become like the fire fighter who cannot enter a burning building for fear of breaking health and safety regulations.

These are my personal views and are not intended to be representative of any organisation I work for as a freelance photographer. Christopher Pledger.”

Please spread this link to as many people as you can. This is an important issue which has extremely far reaching consequences; ones that can have a hugely negative impact on society as we know it. I’m Edmond Terakopian and proud to be a press photographer.

Addendum:

I have just found out (26 Nov, 16:57) that the NUJ has indeed made a statement at the enquiry. However, the NUJ statement was made very early on in the inquiry and was before the entire thing turned into this one-sided, anti-photographer campaign by the famous. When photographers are being attacked in this extremely one sided way, why the BPPA hasn’t been invited is beyond me. The NUJ statement can be read in full in this Media Guardian article. My thoughts are that the NUJ London Photographer’s Branch needs to now be invited to address the points being raised.

More food for thought on some of the ridiculous proposals being aired at the inquiry. Can you imagine if press photographers had to ask for permission every time they needed to  photograph someone in public? Having to stop emergency personnel from doing their jobs, to get written permission when on a breaking news story. How often would criminals give written permission? MPs who are stealing from the tax payer via their expense claims…how many of them would give permission? Documenting the horrors of the July 7th bombing of the tubes and bus; would it be right to stop injured people and ask them to fill in and sign forms? On a different note, this would also completely stop any social documentary – street photography of daily life? Forget it. All those natural and real moments will be lost forever. Can you imagine a world without the brilliant images of Henri Cartier Bresson?

On a related note, illustrating why we should not all be tarred with he same brush; has anyone had a bad builder? A bad doctor? A bad dentist? A bad meal in a restaurant? What are we going to do, ban builders, doctors, dentists and chefs? There are always rogue elements in the world. Coming up with ridiculous suggestions which apply to the entire industry and upset the exact freedoms this country fought for in several wars is disrespectful, immature, self centred and just plain wrong. Bad journalism should not be tolerated. Absolutely not. However, holding one sided inquiries where the ill informed people with personal agendas are given free reign to say all they want without hearing the other side is just plain injustice. I’m not defending disrespectful paparazzi, the rogue photographer, the bad celebrity agencies or bad tabloid journalists – let’s just not forget that there is a lot of nobility and importance in the work the press and press photographers do.

Another huge issue that everyone is missing, is that although these images are press images, they do then become historical. Can you imagine history books without any real photographs in them? No images from July 7th. No images from the London riots. No images of dodgy MPs or Murdoch and Wade. Everything having to be posed and re-enacted. How is that good for society?

Disclaimer: These are my personal views and do not reflect those of any news organisations for whom I work.

Further Reading

The Leveson Inquiry – Leon Neal’s Blog

Flaws On Both Sides of the Leveson Inquiry – Mark Borkowski

Leveson Exposed Celebrity Exploitation… – The Guardian

A Paparazzo Speaks – The Guardian

Photographers Hit Back Over Leveson ‘one way traffic’ – Press Gazette

Leveson Inquiry: Photographers Seek To Counter Criticism – Journalism.co.uk

Press Photographers Slam Leveson Inquiry’s ‘one way traffic’ – BJP

Initial Submission To The Leveson Inquiry – BPPA

Photographers Facing Unfair Criticism – The Guardian

Taken Without Permission – Jules Mattsson

31 responses to “I’m A Press Photographer & Very Proud Of It

  1. Important stuff. Hope this gets through to people.

  2. Great post Edward. I’ve always been a little bemused by how TV constantly report on the ‘media’ as something far removed from what they do. (Which is get under our feet of course).

    • Indeed – it’s always interesting. They will be at the same story, on the same pavement and then make a comment about the media….inches from them & doing exactly what they are doing (but often in a more subtle way).

  3. gah! a life of nothing but photocalls…. how hopelessly depressing. 😦

  4. A very well written article, it would be a real shame if the celebrity chasing photographers lock out photography entirely, press photojournalists are so important to help get news noticed. I hope somehow they an stop the intrusive paps whilst still allowing proper press photographers to o their jobs.

  5. I fully agree with every word written, it’s a shame that most of those who are giving this industry a bad name won’t have the common sense to read this.

  6. Do the Tabloids that have brought all this down upon us actually fall under the category ‘media’? Are they news gathering organisations? Does gossip and hearsay count as news?

    When I was at The Independent for 7 years we managed to cover stories without any of the tactics mentioned by those giving evidence at the inquiry but things have indeed changed since those days, a different culture has emerged and I am in favour of it being stamped on heavlily.

    I think most educated people recognise the vital importance of a free press and many of us have been up in arms over the control and censorship of the press during events like the clearing of Zucoti Park in NYC. I think if you are a respectable news gatherer you have nothing to fear from the Levinson inquiry. If you are a yob with a camera and £££ in your eyes you’d deserve what is coming your way both legally and in terms of the publics derision.

    • Nick, whilst I agree with you completely on the front of bad journalism (zero excuses) and the yob with camera brigade who will push their targets until they get a reaction (as this then increases the value of their shots), I still have worries. The Inquiry has so far put us all in the same basket and we are all collectively being tarred with the same brush. If a hasty law is drawn up and stealing MPs who were outed by the media get their hands on such a proposal, it could well be pushed through and we all end up without a free press. So far, there has been zero balance in the inquiry. The NUJ’s statement was made well before the entire inquiry turned on photographers, pushed by a few high profile people, some with their own agendas. We need balance and the message must get out there.

  7. The public are blinkered and unaware of the difference between pap and respectable, hardworking news photographer – we all have ‘Big cameras’ in the eyes of the masses.

    I covered a private function last night, for the host, and several expensive young things hissed ‘Pap’ at me. Not pleasant and impossible to be further from the truth.

    I love Chris’ analogy of cowboy builder: until we as an industry can make the public aware of the difference, these problems will haunt us.

    • Agreed; one of the big problems being that our colleagues in the media (TV especially and papers up to a point) don’t help at all by making these exact mistakes, often for sensationalist purposes, to spice up their stories. Disgraceful.

  8. Re your reply to Nick Turpin:

    “The Inquiry has so far put us all in the same basket and we are all collectively being tarred with the same brush.”

    This is itself a distortion, you obviously haven’t been paying attention to the actual inquiry, there have been frequent references to distinctions between serious journalism and immoral/illegal activities of the tabloids – distinctions made even by such critics as Grant and Coogan.

    From Leveson’s opening remarks:

    “these seminars will include, among other topics, the law, the ethics of journalism, the practice and pressures of investigative journalism both from the broadsheet and tabloid perspective and issues of regulation all in the context of supporting the integrity, freedom and independence of the press, while ensuring the highest ethical and professional standards.  At some stage, there needs to be a discussion of what amounts to the public good, to what extent the public interest should be taken into account and by whom.  I hope that an appropriate cross section of the entire profession (including those from the broadcast media) will be involved in each discussion”

    http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/about/opening-remarks/

    “So far, there has been zero balance in the inquiry. The NUJ’s statement was made well before the entire inquiry turned on photographers, pushed by a few high profile people, some with their own agendas. We need balance and the message must get out there.”

    This is absolute rubbish, try consulting the Inquiry’s site. Leveson is giving ample opportunity to the media to state their case. The whole of 15th Nov was given over to the barristers for News International and Associated Newspapers to state their case, arguing for freedom of the press, etc.

    http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Transcript-of-Morning-Hearing-15-November-2011.txt

    On 16th there was the MS Stanistreet for the NUJ and Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, followed by Sherborne, barrister for the 51 “core victims”.

    The criticism in the following week didn’t just focus on photographers, and it was clear that it was the paps who were being referred to, but also, phone-hacking, threats on phone, lies, distorted interviews, etc.

    If you want to criticise others at least try to get the facts straight, you might even trying citing some evidence yourself.

    • The inquiry has moved on with speed from it’s original state to one of vilifying photographers, which has continued with pace. The stage being given over to various celebrities with agendas. Again, I’m not defending the actions of bad journalism or the paparazzi at their worst; absolutely not. In my opinion, just because someone is famous, it doesn’t make them fair game.
      My point is that although the whole emphasis has changed to concentrate on photography, the inquiry hasn’t made room for the BPPA or NUJ Photographers’ Branch to equal out the debate. These organisations are going to make statements to address all these photography centric issues, but it seems that they won’t be fitted in until after the Christmas.
      In equal measure, my issue is also with the way a lot of news media is covering the inquiry and misusing the term paparazzi, or cutting to a shot of news photographers in a pen to illustrate hoards of photographers being intrusive etc. The TV stations, although covering exactly the same stories and standing inches apart, have on the whole taken a snooty attitude and have started to finger point, inaccurately.
      All I wish for is balance and accuracy. Not much to ask for.

  9. The dumbest thing is that it is the Media itself deciding what to tell the public about the enquiry. So the Media focusing on the celebrity evidence is it’s own tacit acknowledgement that it feels the celebrity evidence is the bigger story. Then claiming that the Leveson inquiry is too celebrity focussed is hypocrisy of the worst kind. The media claims about celebrity bias becomes it’s own self fulfilling prophecy.

  10. “All I wish for is balance and accuracy. Not much to ask for.”

    That’s what I was hoping I might get from you, but you simply the ignore the points I made and the evidence I cited (and you still cite none) and blithely repeat the same inaccurate accusations.

    It’s just ridiculous to say that “The inquiry has moved on with speed from it’s original state to one of vilifying photographers, which has continued with pace.” It’s wrong, firstly, in that it’s clearly not about photographers in general but about paparazzi, and the quite justified complaints about them. Secondly, as I’ve already pointed out, a lot of the testimony is not about photography, but about phone-hacking, deception using the phone, lies in articles, distorted versions of interviews, etc. – nothing to do with photography. You clearly have a totally unbalanced view because as a photographer you’ve noticed and got upset by things to do with photography, ignoring everything else.

    “The stage being given over to various celebrities with agendas.”

    This is false in that many of the witnesses are NOT celebrities, the Dowlers, the Mccanns, etc. So far only four are celebs (hardly “waves and waves”). Also the agenda of the celebs is to try to end some of the appalling things the tabloids have clearly done – a quite justified reaction to what they’ve been subjected to for years. Here’s Hugh Grant’s agenda – a great deal more balanced than yours:

    “You know, this is the other side of all this. I’m, for instance, keen on libel reform. I’m keen to see good journalism protected as much as one possibly can. I’m the reverse of a muzzler. But I personally feel that the licence that the tabloid press has had to steal British citizens’ privacy for their commercial profit — very often vulnerable British citizens — is a scandal that weak governments for too long have allowed to pass.”

    http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Transcript-of-Afternoon-Hearing-21-November-2011.pdf p. 93

    • Ted,

      Firstly, you’ve missed two huge points in my original text; I (and colleagues) have issues with the way the story is being reported and secondly, there is a much deeper problem with society funding this bad journalism and the work of the paparazzi. My comments aren’t purely about the Inquiry itself.

      Perhaps part of this reporting is being done in the way it has to take the focus of phone tapping and so on. Part of it is TV’s usual snootiness at sharing a pavement but referring to our group as us and them. This is ridiculous as it’s all journalism, but with different tools.

      There is no excuse for bad journalism and I don’t agree that just because someone is famous, they are fair game.

      I realise the inquiry still has a way to go, but for the just of it to have swung so widely towards press photography and the tow largest and most influential organisations (NUJ Photographers’ Branch and the BPPA) to have not been included, makes it very unbalanced so far. If we get to balance out the inquiry after Christmas, the damage of unbalance may well have been done. People have short attention spans and will not be following what’s going on closely (and probably neither will the TV media). There is a credible danger that this will effect how we work in this country. I have travelled the world on assignments and never once been called a paparazzi, apart from here in the UK.

      My personal experience has shown me that people definitely do NOT know the difference between a pap and Don McCullin (as you have written on your website) – this is a worry. I’m not theorising, but speaking from my own experience over many, many years.

      There are bad journalists, bad photographers and so on. No one is saying all my colleagues are perfect. However, to mix us all up as one, including the paparazzi is unjust. Quite a few of us go to great lengths to work ethically and accurately. Asking for a bit of balance isn’t asking too much.

      I have repeated some of what I originally replied to yo with as you keep taking all my comments and attaching them purely to the inquiry – so far, I do have issues with the inquiry, but there are other issues too.

  11. I was a news photographer for 25 years, NCTJ distinction, trainee on a evening working my way up to senior on a news agency. However for the last 10 years I have shot pap. My last proper job as a deputy picture editor paid £15k a year.
    Guess what I prefer pap, it pays better and believe it or not I see it has more honest, I have a good working relationship with the celebs that I photograph and are polite at all times, it’s better for me and my business. What I hated about being a news photographer was knocking on the doors of the recently bereaved asking for collect pictures ( I worked on the Bulger story and Warrington bomb and countless child murders) ) now that is intrusion “get em while they are still in shock” my world weary picture editor would tell me.
    I also shot in Bosnia at the height of the war and was pissed off with the attitude of the agency boys, is it fair to intrude so far into someones grief just to get a leg up the career ladder, of course wars to need to be reported but who controls all those ‘photo-journalist’ looking to get a name, far worse than the behaviour of any paps I have ever met, I’ve seen photogs move dead bodies to make the composition.
    One more thought, paps need celebs and celebs need paps – most of the people at the Leveson Inquiry were actually photographed by staffers working for newspapers ie news photographers.
    And may I ask you Edward, whats the difference between photographing a pissed up celeb stumbling out of a club and the innocent victims of the horrific London bombing? Surely one chooses to be famous and the others not or are you saying that a news story negates a persons right to privacy? Lets not forgot that when serial shagger Jude Law was complaining not many people were listening but it was Milly Dowlers parents, a non famous and non papped person, that bought the downfall of a newspaper.

    • Thanks for your post. Your life decisions are yours to make and nobody else’s and I certainly am not looking for any justification from you or your colleagues. The pay in newspapers for real work (as you mentioned) though is atrocious.
      News work isn’t always easy and like most photographers, I’ve worked on hard stories, including bereavements and so on. In 22 years though, I haven’t had a single complaint from a single family or individual over my conduct or work.
      Most paps, or lets say specifically the paps who I have seen on the road, show any sign of being able to conduct themselves with any level of human decency. Of course, as with everything, exceptions do exist; both good and bad ones.
      Your stories about people moving bodies is terrible and hope that person is no longer working in this field.
      Firstly, my name is Edmond, and to answer your question, can you seriously not see a difference?! Hounding someone purely because they are famous, 24/7, especially in the hope of catching them doing something (often as a result of provocation – again, I have witnessed this myself) so the picture’s worth more and justifying it by saying that because they are famous, they are fair game, is in my opinion, not right.
      Photographing an atrocity like the London bombings is absolutely a news photographers duty. It’s an extremely serious responsibility to cover it honestly, accurately and to share the horror of this inhumanity with the world via the newspaper and then via the history book. An act like the London bombings has so much more to it than the horrific event itself. Political and religious aspects. We would be going off topic, so I shall leave it there.
      I’m not asking for any paparazzi to justify what they do (interesting that you should feel to ask me to justify myself though), as there is more to it than just the pap’s choice. If people stopped buying these publications, then advertisers would stop advertising; the same society who calls all of us ‘paps’ and throws abuse, is very much to blame for this segment of the market to exist.
      I am absolutely against sensationalist, inaccurate, bad and made up journalism. I am for being ethical and honest; respectful and decent journalism.

  12. I didn’t “miss” your point about the media reporting of the Inquiry, I didn’t respond to that because, as usual, you just talked about your general impression and didn’t cite any particular examples. So it would be hard to debate the accuracy of your impression, I don’t know what TV news reports you watched and they aren’t usually kept online, unlike press reports.

    Nor did I respond to the point about the responsibility of those of the public who buy the tabloids. I agree with you about this rather obvious point.

    It’s not true that “you keep taking all my comments and attaching them purely to the inquiry”. I very carefully stuck to your specific comments about the Inquiry because a) I thought they were quite wrong and unfair and b) one can check exactly what has been said by everyone appearing in the inquiry, it’s all online. You made specific allegations about the Inquiry, and for the reasons I have given, you’re demonstrably wrong about that. It hasn’t become a “witch hunt” against photographers at all and if the media have misreported it one shouldn’t confuse media reports with the Inquiry itself.

    I’m quite prepared to believe that SOME people confuse photographers and paparazzi, and that there is an ignorant and vocal minority who might have given you a hard time, particularly if you’re photographing people in public, when it would be hard to tell the difference. But that doesn’t mean that MOST people think there is, in general, NO difference between a war photographer and a paparazzo, or that they think ALL photographers are paps. If you asked most people what kind of photographer a paparazzi is I’m confident they would say something like “those photographers who spend all their time chasing celebs.”

    ” However, to mix us all up as one, including the paparazzi is unjust. Quite a few of us go to great lengths to work ethically and accurately. Asking for a bit of balance isn’t asking too much.”

    But it’s you who are mixing things up by not being clear whether you’re talking about the Inquiry or media reports of it, which might well have done some mixing up. I’ve looked at the Inquiry more carefully than you and I have not seen any such mixing up there. They have not, contrary to what you claim, focused on photography, there’s been far more about journalistic text, news, gossip, interviews, etc., so there is no reason why they should call on people who represent photographers specifically at this stage.

    Rather than taking swipes at the Inquiry, which seems to me to be making great efforts to be fair, focus your criticism on the paps, the tabloids and the people who buy them – which is what even the celebs are focusing on. As I pointed out, Grant is all for good reporting and hence for responsible journalistic photography.

  13. You’re welcome. As Noam Chomsky said: “Truth matters” 🙂

    Church’s testimony today told a pretty horrific story, and, as far as photography is concerned, it was again clear who is to blame:

    “Church has revealed that paparazzi have made her life totally public.

    She hasn’t had a holiday since she was 16 without their presence and blames a network of paid tipsters as well as paparazzi for her lack of privacy.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2011/nov/28/leveson-inquiry-charlotte-church-anne-diamond-live

    Anne Diamond refers to just one photo, taken against her wishes, at her son’s funeral.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Quite a lot of what’s been said is stomach churning. There’s no excuse for this behaviour. There is a huge responsibility which falls on the public though to act by action and stop buying this rubbish. Alas they don’t; they knock it, throw abuse, tar us all with the same brush and then carry on funding it! An extremely strange phenomenon. Where do people think this material comes from?!
      The news editors, editors and publishers are simply (wrongly so as it’s not journalism) selling them what they want and making a lot of money from it.

  14. Well written piece. A man of principals in a cynical society, there are not many left. Keep at it sense will prevail. We need a free press, not a garbage press churning out rubbish. Never buy the celeb mags I am now encouraging others not to.

  15. Dear Graham Warsap (Chemotherapy Nurse and Event Photographer) happy to rubbish paps and celeb mags more happy to talk garbage on twitter and play mindless games. Someone mod these posts please I don’t need some part time event photographer telling me how to earn a living.

  16. As a photograhy student currently researching ethics in photography and journalism, I found your article very insightful. It just goes to show that standards in the job are very far apart. I note that the code of conduct on the NUJ site does leave a lot to individual interpretation. May be this code does need to be rewitten in the light of current events. And I’m sure it will be. It is interesting to compare the NUJ code to the National Press Photograhers Association (NPPA) in the USA. Their code appears to me to be more ethical and more mindfull of others rights.

    • Standards and guidelines are always down to interpretation I guess. The entire situation in the USA is different and generally speaking my colleagues over there rarely have anything close to the level of hassle we get here from the Police, some members of society or TV! We’re being painted in a certain light by TV over here and some segments of society blindly follow. The entire thing is actually quite a complex situation.

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