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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Journalistic Responsiblity
Rick Burnham, Photographer
Enfield | CT | USA | Posted: 6:50 AM on 10.26.04
->> Right now, with out saying who, a member has photos of a crime up on his profile page. It is a group of students who found some car keys with auto locks and are lookig for the car. They find the car, open it and take some of the contents. They decided not to take the car.

What I, as someone who didn't take journalism in college, would like to know is what are your responsibilities as a journalist/photographer in capturing a criminal act? Is it different if you came upon it, like a bank robery, versus seemily being a part of a group that decided to do something criminal and you record/photograph it? Also most of the students are clearly identifiable in the photos what could happen if the polce were to se ethis and ask for copies of the photos? Do you need to cooperate and to what level as the circumstances seem to be that the photographer at the very least is an accomplice in this.

What are your responsibilities as a citizen to report that crime?

I ask because as someone who recently was a victim of a crime similar to this I can feel for the person who lost their belongings. And as a jounalist I think it raises some ethics questions as well.

I'd like to hear some thoughts.
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David Johnson, Photographer
Social Circle (Atlanta) | GA | USA | Posted: 7:26 AM on 10.26.04
->> I did not take journalism classes in college, so I can not speak to the journalism ethics. I have not been schooled in the finer points of what is right and wrong from the journalistic point of view. I am not the person you want to hear from.

However, I have been of both sides of this issue. In my younger days I participated in similar activities. I have also been the victim by having my car broken into and personal items stolen. From my perspective -- with the added benefit of maturity and life experience -- this is just wrong. This isn't journalism. It isn't a documentary. It is someone out with their friends taking a few pics in between laughs. Saying that the thieves had a successful night gives the reader some insight into the writer's mindset.

I do not think the police will think this guy is any better than the other person in the crew that was video taping the crimes. Playing like you are a journalist does not make you one.


IMAGE 5:
"LET’S CALL IT A NIGHT: Before arriving at their dorms, they deposed the keys in a nearby bush. The students had a successful night by stealing CD’s and money from the vehicle without getting caught.

Better written as...
The students were able to ruin someone's day by robbing their vehicle in the middle of the night and then throwing the key's under a bush.


IMAGE 6:
"Hahahahaha!:
The students involved in stealing belongings from a vehicle on campus, sit and watch the video footage of the whole incident that a fellow friend had taken during the night."

Better written as...
The budding criminals review thier actions with obvious glee. Missing from their self-made documentary is the grief they have intentionally inflicted.



Karma happens. The sooner the better.
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Chip Litherland, Photographer
Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 8:24 AM on 10.26.04
->> Rick,

I think this is an important issue to debate, but it is pointless and wrong without seeing said photos in their original context with captions. There is no way for I, or anyone for that matter, of making an educated response this way. Someone please post a link...

Chip
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Michael Hickey, Photographer
Kokomo | IN | USA | Posted: 8:27 AM on 10.26.04
->> This is deplorable. Is this what students have come to? So arrogant with their misdeeds they allow it to be posted on a public web site? Since I work on a campus, I shouldn't say I'm completely oblivious to how students are today, but this is just wrong.
I don't know why Rick is hiding Omar's identity, he posted this publicly. I think Omar should be called upon for this. This displays a lack of professionalism and integrity for all those involved in the pictures including Omar, if I had to make a judgement call, it appears the photographer is a willing accomplice, I could be wrong and I'll admit that if I'm proven wrong but it sure looks like it to me. Are you telling me he approached some students and asked them if he could follow them around while they commit a crime and take pictures, I don't think so.
This cannot be tolerated, the actions OR the pictures.
I've had my car broken into more than once, had more than $8,000 worth of gear stolen on a different occasion, and this makes me mad as hell!
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David Johnson, Photographer
Social Circle (Atlanta) | GA | USA | Posted: 8:37 AM on 10.26.04
->> http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=3482
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Dick Van Nostrand, Photographer
Bay City | MI | USA | Posted: 8:45 AM on 10.26.04
->> First, we are citizens before we are photojournalists and there should be no question about what we do when we observe something unlawful going on...turn the information over to law enforcement agencies. This is not a case of doing a story on an activity and only revealing published information to law enforcement agencies. A debate continues about how to act when served with a subpeona asking for unpublished photos or information, but this is a situation that goes way beyond our rights as journalists.
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Dick Van Nostrand, Photographer
Bay City | MI | USA | Posted: 8:52 AM on 10.26.04
->> Most of us using this site try to raise the public's perception of photojournalists and journalism and when something like this happens, it negates all the good work of many ethical people.
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Sam Santilli, Photographer
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 9:05 AM on 10.26.04
->> Is this a gag? Does Omar really think that posting images of a crime he was involved in make sense? Or was he using a 600mm to get that close? All of those awards listed on his member page are worthless if he is involved with an actual crime. Would any photo editor hire this person who finds glee in theft? Hopefully, this is just a college prank with no real lasting effects. But to me, the worst image in Omar's gallery is #10, why is porn posted on this site? Shame on you Omar, that is not art, nor two lovers, that is pushng the limits, and you went too far.
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Dick Van Nostrand, Photographer
Bay City | MI | USA | Posted: 9:19 AM on 10.26.04
->> Sam raises an important point about what is posted on our member pages. There are many potential employers who scan the images for potential employees or interns. The photos posted on the member page in question only make it easier for that person to be placed in the reject pile.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 9:21 AM on 10.26.04
->> Whoa, whoa, whoa, guys ... let's all take a quick breather before gathering the torches and nooses, OK? Once again, I'm seeing a thread that started with the intention of fostering some sort of mature discussion turn into something a lot of you might regret later. Before anyone goes further with "calling out" this member —— questioning his intentions, credibility, ethics, etc. —— I think we need to step back and give him a chance to speak, if he so chooses.

And going one step further with this thought, I'm almost wondering if there was any need for this thread at all. I mean to say, couldn't a lot of these questions been answered by taking advantage of that oh-so-under-utilized feature, "Contact So-and-So" on our respective member pages? I ask that because, I'm guessing, a lot of us with "super-duper psychic message board abilities" see EXACTLY where this thread is going ...

So, let me reiterate —— let's take a second and either contact this photographer personally, or give him the opportunity to speak.

Respectfully,

- gerry -
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Bradenton | FL | USA | Posted: 9:23 AM on 10.26.04
->> I'd like to hear from Omar on this one because IF all he did was simply record the misdeeds of some of his pals on a Friday night; that's NOT journalism. IF he was working on a legitimate story about, let's say, an escalation of property crimes on campus, then that's a different story all together. You cannot be an accomplice to a crime (and I’m not necessarily saying that Omar was) and hope that if you get caught that you can simply tell the police that you were only there under the auspices of being a journalist. I’d like to know if Omar was on an assignment. I’d like to know if these people are friends of his that he frequently goes out with. I’d like to know if he called his editor to let him/her know that he came upon a story and would be covering it. And finally, I’d like to know if he intends to publish these images somewhere other than Sportsshooter.
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Brian Tietz, Photographer
Lexington | KY | USA | Posted: 9:27 AM on 10.26.04
->> Ok, Not to go off on a rant or anything, I rarely post, but this gallery made me sick. Honestly that must be the most retarded group of criminals in the world. Why would any "photojournalist" talk them into letting him tag along as they break into someone's car. What would have happend if it was Omar's car they found, would have tried to stop them? Not to go overboard but what is the difference between this and taking a photos of a serial murderer as preparing for a kill. Not a big fan of the "peeping tom" photo in the gallery too. Lets be professionals.
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Michael Hickey, Photographer
Kokomo | IN | USA | Posted: 9:29 AM on 10.26.04
->> Criminal activity and porn? We need an explanation? I don't.
'Nuff said.
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Mike Ullery, Photographer
Troy | OH | USA | Posted: 9:45 AM on 10.26.04
->> I agree with Michael. There is no reason for that post to be on this site.

(a) If it were a gag: Extremely bad taste
(b) If supposedly on assignment: Then the editor is as
as guilty as the photographer. Both should be
prosecuted.
(c) If he did it on his own: He is an accessory to larceny
and should be prosecuted.
(d) Anyone who would participate in a crime showing that
much disrespect for his fellow students should be
expelled.

No more explaination necessary.
Mike
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Matthias Krause, Photographer
Brooklyn | NY | USA | Posted: 9:46 AM on 10.26.04
->> I'm with Gerry here. We should give him the chance to explain himself first. I did send him an e-mail asking to just do that.
As for the initial question: If it is what it looks like it's definately not ethical. In Germany it would be a crime too (not taking the pictures but participating). Dunno about the US though.
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Margaret Bowles, Photographer
Charlotte | NC | | Posted: 9:48 AM on 10.26.04
->> The premise of this "photographer's" picture story is mean spirited and despicable and the porn shot is just trashy. I wish I hadn't looked. Reminds me of Pulp Fiction. On the other hand, Omar will pay the price professionally for his indiscretion. Who on this website would be proud of putting his/her name on these photos?
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 9:51 AM on 10.26.04
->> the first thing that came to my mind when I viewed images 1-9 were "The Blair Witch Project." This couldn't be real. Can students be THAT stupid.
When I saw image number 10 my reaction was "WTF"???
I have a friend who tried to become a member of sportsshooter because I have been telling her what a great site it is, how helpful the people are and how this site can help her grow as a photographer-and she was turned down because at the time all she had really photographed were celebrities, and these kinds of photos are allowed here?

Debbie
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 9:52 AM on 10.26.04
->> Thanks, Matthias ...

... to make one more stab at the point ...

Doing a little digging on some of this member's past MB posts, it looks as if he'll be at this year's Luau ... only nine short days away. So, how many of you want to make it an awkward experience for both yourselves and this member, eh?

Just thinking out loud, but will shut up now for good, and will also get a cup of coffee. Coffee would be good. And a muffin.

Banana nut,

- g -
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Chip Litherland, Photographer
Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:26 AM on 10.26.04
->> Well, I think Omar needs to say how these images came about, although it honestly doesn't look good. My concern now that if these are his buddies, these photos are now published and in the public - meaning any campus or city police officer can just take a screen grab of these pics, locate them, arrest them, and have the evidence to convict.

I think what this thread should be brought back to is not if Omar is going to be awkward at the Luau or somthing trivial like that, but moreover where is the line when photographing spot news?

Do you tackle the bank robber police are chasing? No.

Do you you tackle the bank robber if he's escaping without any police around? Hmmm....maybe?

Do you tackle the bank robber if he's running after a person to take hostage? Absolutely.

I've had to make a similar decision twice now and it basically what you feel your responsibility to your community is. Be a human first.

Yes? No?

Chip
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 10:35 AM on 10.26.04
->> "I think what this thread should be brought back to is not if Omar is going to be awkward at the Luau or somthing trivial like that, but moreover where is the line when photographing spot news?"

Chip et al --

I should clarify ... my point was/is that, as has been the case many times before, the tone of this thread was quickly turning a bit hostile (go back and look over the past six or seven posts). I'm all about mature, rationale discussion, and I think the heart of this thread is in the right place -- at what point do we, as "objective" journalists, become a part of the activity when recording the illegal, if that's even what's going on in the sequence (and for what it's worth, I also think it's pretty crazy to post that stuff in a public place, if it was indeed a real [not staged] activity).

That line of questioning applies to a lot of situations we could find ourselves in -- riots, looting, stories of drugs/drug users, etc.

So to all those attempting to steer the thread back in that direction, I commend you fully and look forward to what *should* be an informative, interesting discussion.

- gerry -
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Sam Santilli, Photographer
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 10:40 AM on 10.26.04
->> Gerry, I am not going to Luau, but would like to hear from Omar......it's just 7:30ish on the left coast now. I will be happy to hear his voice directly, online, via phone, e-mail, or even a billboard. He has the right and obligation to speak for and to his work. Hiopefully he is not in the SFSU President's office all day!
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Autumn Cruz, Student/Intern, Photographer
St. Petersburg | FL | | Posted: 10:52 AM on 10.26.04
->> Hi guys. I know Omar personally and can tell you that he is one of the sweetest, most well meaning people I know. However, he is very young, like 18 and needs guidance and all the help and encouragement that this community can offer.

Omar is very enthusiastic in what he does and he caught my eye when I met him a year ago because of that enthusiasm. He pushes boundries, and I admit that I was shocked by the content of these photos, but not overly surprised because Omar has a way, with his personality, to get into people's lives. They are all very young, very naieve, and unaware of the implications of their actions, including the photographer. Lets please support Omar here.

And about the "porn" shot. Omar is not a peeping tom. I am sure that he got permission, and I can guarantee that when he says "expresses their love" that he means that too. He's not being lewd or sarcastic. Let's not judge others here. He didn't post 10 graphic up close-up images. He tried his best, with framing and blurring to give us a sense of this scene without being too graphic.

Omar will eagerly and appreciatively take any suggestions we give him. Omar is exploring the limits of photojournalism very actively and he LOVES this work. Lets give a young pup the benifit of the doubt and help him out.
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Chip Litherland, Photographer
Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:56 AM on 10.26.04
->> Gerry,

Point taken...wasn't trying to single you out, my man. I think we're preaching to the choir here.

The line is gray, and shall remain grayer as the images we see become more and more graphic - and more sellable. The palette of the American public is changing and I think editors are going to have a stronger responsibility from now on to choose what readers see.

Photographing crime isn't new, nor is it even just us doing it. Everyone has a digital camera now, and as the prison abuse photos show - photography and truth has alot of power still. Not that those photos are even on the same plane as this series of photos, but it still has the same underlying theme.

I would love to think that most photojournalists are same page across the globe when it comes to this topic, but I'm not so sure. Death sells, crime sells, sex sells...and the photos sell. I think we need to take a second and examine our own personal ethics before shooting stuff like this, and think about the reprocutions to our subjects, ourselves and the community. Does publishing these photos in a public forum do more harm than good? We're talking about it, so I guess that's one good thing to come out of this.

Chip
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Joe Andras, Photographer
Laguna Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 11:17 AM on 10.26.04
->> G.J. McCarthy said:

>> Whoa, whoa, whoa, guys ... let's all take a quick
>> breather before gathering the torches and nooses, OK?

Coupled with your last name, your rational suggestion made me smile!
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Alan Stewart, Photographer, Photo Editor
Corydon | IN | USA | Posted: 11:22 AM on 10.26.04
->> I'm holding judgement on the shoot until more info comes out...

But I would like to say that the job of a photographer is two-fold, or at least I have always considered it that way.
First, tell/show the story. Second, try to get shots that invoke emotion.

I would say Omar's done both.
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Brendan Smialowski, Photographer
Washington | DC | United States | Posted: 11:32 AM on 10.26.04
->> In response to Rick’s original question about our responsibilities as a citizen to report crimes:

These are subjects the photographer chose to follow not a story that spontaneously developed (ie a bank robbery happening across the street).

When we CHOOSE to document anything we CHOOSE to be journalists over citizens. We work with subjects in the interest of journalism.

Stories are important to tell. Some people, even criminals, understand the importance of this but do not wish to be punished. If we work with subjects to tell important stories and then turn them into authorities for what we witnessed we become nothing more then an arm of the police in public’s eyes. Doing such puts us all in danger and discredits us as journalists.

The actions of out subjects might be criminal and mean spirited, among other things, but that does not make the story or the journalist criminal or mean spirited. As journalists we are objective… observe and document, not judge. It is insulting to think that people are incapable from separating us from our subjects.

Keep in mind we are in the business of storytelling, not all stories make people happy.
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Jeffrey Haderthauer, Student/Intern, Photographer
Norman | OK | USA | Posted: 11:36 AM on 10.26.04
->> The way Mr. Vega wrote his captions isn't heping his case here- at all. But we DO need to hear the whole story. Gerry is right- calm down, and disband the virtual lynch mob...

Check out Larry Clark's 'Tulsa' next time you're at the bookstore.
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Autumn Cruz, Student/Intern, Photographer
St. Petersburg | FL | | Posted: 11:47 AM on 10.26.04
->> I know I got emotional because I saw a friend get attacked.

Anyways, my whole point, more rationally speaking now, is that when we're in an online communtiy, you just never know who it is that you're really talking to or about (unless you know them of course). I never saw this as a forum for critisizing people's work or charactor, but rather, a forum for discussion. I've always told students that this is a very valuable resource for learning, but it can do more damage than good if what could be a valuable discussions turns to personal judgement and to a student no less!!!! We should remember that we are not all professionals here, we have students too. Part of the SS purpose is to pass on the meaning of the profession to the budding professionals, in all it's complexity.
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David Johnson, Photographer
Social Circle (Atlanta) | GA | USA | Posted: 12:21 PM on 10.26.04
->> Back to Rick's question...

What are the photographer's responsibilities as a citizen to report a crime that he photographs?

I'll post one of my own....

We are all photographers and we are part of the communities we live in. Which responsibilities come first, acting as a photographer and shooting images or acting as a responsible citizen of a community and reporting a crime in progress?

In this case, the photographer had 20 minutes between the decision to search for the car and the car being located. From the submitted caption, it appears to have been the original intent of the group to do some joy riding, so the photographer was aware of the criminal intent from the begininning.

Was his participation in the event ethical by journalistic standards?

Should he have placed his journalistic desires above his duty to report a crime in progress?

Should he have reported the criminal activity to the authorities after having finished his journalistic activities?
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Niko Kallianiotis, Photographer
Watertown | NY | | Posted: 12:24 PM on 10.26.04
->> I don't really believe that the photographer was walking at night looking for a crime shot, then he found students stealing stuff from a car..then asked, hey guys can I take some photos, yeah mam feel free.. Come on, there is no debate here. And I don't think he used a 600 in pitch black awith flash, cause the flash with no reach. I mean come on, the guy is in the face of the "thief" in one photo.

Later
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Brendan Smialowski, Photographer
Washington | DC | United States | Posted: 12:32 PM on 10.26.04
->> We are part of communities. Documenting the good, the bad and the ugly of these communities is just as important as any other function you can take part of. Journalist tell stories so that a community can be understood, police enforce law so a community can be safe.

Documenting an event is not participating in it… it’s that simple. If this is hard to understand take a look at some images on this site, find a nice touch down photo and ask that photographer what their role in that play was. They will answer none. Ethical journalism is about how you cover not what you cover.

If we choose to cover an event, crime or not, we are taking the role of journalist. If you play journalist then turn in you subjects you are violating your relationship as a journalist with your subjects. In doing so you destroy the credibility of journalism and put your self and other journalist in danger.
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer
Cincinnati | OH | USA | Posted: 12:33 PM on 10.26.04
->> There's a quagmire to the left and a maelstrom to the right. Stay on a straight path people otherwise this thread is end up in the hall of shame.
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Dave Amorde, Photographer
Lake Forest | CA | USA | Posted: 1:29 PM on 10.26.04
->> Omar's images are powerful. His raw talent is obvious. His youthful judgement is questionable. Rather than run him out on a rail, how about we all chip in $5 to send him to Iraq for 3 months? My guess is that he'd have a personal interview with Al-Zarqawi within two weeks.

Having said that, as much as I appreciate his talent and enthusiasm, SS is not the proper forum for this genre of photography. At the very least it belongs in a private gallery, not on the main member page.
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Mark Smith, Photographer
Elk City | OK | USA | Posted: 2:29 PM on 10.26.04
->> I don't think it is the essence of a total departure from civility to point out that the last image in the gallery is not journalism, is indecent, does not belong on this site, and that an 18 year old should know these things. I really don't care if the couple is in love, or married, or just happened upon each other, so to speak, it doesn't belong and youth cannot rationalize it.

The other photos, well, there is little reason to comment until Omar does. If the events are as they are described, then I see little way that it could be considered responsible journalism, but perhaps there is an explanation, (albeit, one that, if it exists, should have appeared with the photos).
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Omar Vega, Photographer, Student/Intern
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 2:46 PM on 10.26.04
->> Hey everybody,

I really appreciate your time and consideration regarding some images from my yearlong photo story on freshmen life for our publications on campus.

Since I am a freshman living in the dorms at SFSU, I have access to many situations that others don’t. Everybody photographed is told ahead of time, at the moment, or after the situation takes place that it’s for the school publications and photo 1. (Features, Spot News, General News, Sports, etc.)

We are having an editorial meeting today regarding the presentation of the images and stand point in our online and weekly publications; Ken Kobre will attend as usual.

Hundreds of students on campus know who I am, what I’m doing, who I’m doing it for, and why I’m doing it based on the relationships and sources that I’ve developed on campus and in the city. And if they don’t, that’s the beginning of the conversation.

The students that I followed that night happened out of luck, being at the right place at the right time. I over herd several students laughing and talking loudly amongst themselves in the hallway, a usual thing in the dorms and I herd “I found some car keys outside the building,” the only line that caught my attention. So I went to my room and got my equipment. I found the students in the same place right before the left and followed them throughout the night. With these students in particular, I have photographed them before at parties, doing leisure activities, doing homework, etc, and they have seen my work in our school publications. They were fully aware of my intentions as a journalist before the incident and after.

The captions that followed the images were paraphrased conversations and actions.

I’m sure the owner of the vehicle will appreciate what I’ve done, and what I’ll continually do. If I did not photograph this incident, it would have gone unnoticed like a thousand others. Since it’s a huge issue on campus, like many other things, I’m not sure what the University Police Department and school will do for their actions. I feel the responsibility to do what I’ve done. I act human first then as a journalist. These images are a slice of the reality pie of freshmen life.

Please do not call me to express your anger and verbal abuse. You may call, but I’ll be responding to the SS community between classes all day. Once again, I greatly appreciate your comments and concerns.

Thanks,

Omar
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Alan Look, Photographer
Bloomington | IL | United States | Posted: 2:52 PM on 10.26.04
->> "The students involved in stealing belongings from a vehicle on campus, sit and watch the video footage of the whole incident that a fellow friend had taken during the night."

Finding a car key fob $0
Cassette for the video taping of a crime $4.99
Sitting on the couch with face visable for photograph of yourself watching video of you stealing.... Priceless
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Mike Ullery, Photographer
Troy | OH | USA | Posted: 3:03 PM on 10.26.04
->> Omar,
A question to you. If you are a "human first", then a journalist, why, when you heard of an illegal act likly to be committed, did you not contact the campus police and do your journalistic work recording the arrest of the thieves?

In my opinion, your lack of the correct course of action puts you into the same realm as those who actually committed the crime. I doubt that the police, upon seeing the film evidence are going to draw a line between you and those you photographed, in this case.

I agree with one of the previous comments. You do show a real talent for our craft. I also know that college freshmen are trying to "find themselves". Please take some advice and try to channel that talent and creativity a little better. There are ways to push the envelope without treading on the illegal side of the tracks.

Mike
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Chip Litherland, Photographer
Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 3:24 PM on 10.26.04
->> "If you are a "human first", then a journalist, why, when you heard of an illegal act likly to be committed, did you not contact the campus police and do your journalistic work recording the arrest of the thieves?"

Because that would be creating his own news...I think once you interfere with a crime being commited you cease to become an observer and become a part of the story. I'm not arguing that you shouldn't interfere, but once you do it your role in the story is different and you should act as such - otheriwse I could have tons of arrest pictures in my archive.

And Omar,

Thanks for giving us some sense of what this is for. My only point that I think that could help you is this: what you choose to include in your photos is as important as what you decide to leave out. What you were missing in your gallery update was some sort of context to explain what your intent was and the project you were working on for these photos. That lead to the speculation and arguments prior to your post.

I am by no means offended by your photos at all, but they ride the line so many of us try to keep from crossing on a day-to-day basis. You can see why some people might have a strange reaction the photos, right?? Especially the last one.

I graduated only a couple years ago, and I wish I had some of my shoots and access back from those days to apply what I know now. Take advantage of it, buddy.

Cheers.

Chip
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John Cordes, Photographer
Orange County | CA | USA | Posted: 3:25 PM on 10.26.04
->> Mike,
Not sure how I feel about Omars pictures. I do know how I feel about the concept of journalist calling the police whenever they get a tip something MIGHT happen.
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Mike Ullery, Photographer
Troy | OH | USA | Posted: 3:40 PM on 10.26.04
->> Chip,
I don't know. I'm not sure in this case it would have been creating news. It would be stopping an illegal act. I'm sorry, but journalist or not, it is not right for someone to stand around and watch a crime being commited for their own photojournalistic benefit.

I appreciate your comments, and yours John, but I think that this went beyond tipping police that something "might" happen.

The bothersome thing is the time frame. It didn't happen in 30 seconds. It went from "might" happen...to is happening...to lets watch the video. You don't think that somewhere in there, a sense of responsibility to yourself and your neighbors should have kicked in?

I'm sorry, that's not photojournalism. I know that others will disagree with me and that's ok. We each have to follow our own conscience about where to draw a line. Mine is just a little closer to the conservative end.
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer, Assistant
Round Rock (Austin) | TX | US | Posted: 3:50 PM on 10.26.04
->> Omar, I think one of the main problems (and reasons your intentions are being questioned) is this quote from your member's Message: "Wha-Hooo...some recent Happy-Snaps..."

I'm not sure about everyone else, but to me, this statement gives the impression that these photos are from something you did with your friends, out to have a good time. This statement would be perfect for 'fuxpix' photos or shots of you and your buddies playing mini-golf.

If your member message had said something like, "Here are some recent shots from the year-long project I'm working on to document freshman life for the campus newspaper," I don't think this would have been near as big of an issue.
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Ed J. Szalajeski, Photographer
Portland | ME | USA | Posted: 3:58 PM on 10.26.04
->> How do you like those Sox
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Mark Smith, Photographer
Elk City | OK | USA | Posted: 4:00 PM on 10.26.04
->> Before anyone explodes, I quite sure Kevin meant "funpix".
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James Prichard, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbia | MD | USA | Posted: 4:02 PM on 10.26.04
->> Ullery - So those who document prostitution and illegal drug-use and don't report it to the authorities (common topics that have resulted in award-winning essays/stories) should also be treated as those who actually committed the crime? What about those that document domestic violence? If we don't put it in peoples' faces, some will never know the other side of the tracks even exists.

In this mind-set, every story would end in the police coming and arresting someone, the photographer would blow any credibility he/she has with the public/audience, and it wold portray a world that just doesn't exist. In real life thieves/prostitutes/drug-dealers do get away, and wives live with abusive husbands. Police shortages don't allow them to follow-up on every drug dealer in the cities. There's not always police waiting out front to save you.

I do believe that there is a time a place to call the police and/or step in and intervene as a photojournalist documenting real life. But we cannot simply ignore the illegal side of the tracks and hope it goes away.

It's a balancing act that many photographers have spent days/months battling with, but I don't believe staying away from illegal activity is an answer to making our world a better place.

I JUST WANT WORLD PEACE...GO RED SOX
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer, Assistant
Round Rock (Austin) | TX | US | Posted: 4:03 PM on 10.26.04
->> Haha Mark! Talk about bad proof-reading. I guess officailly it has a space in it also, it should have read: 'Fun Pix' My bad. =)
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Mike Ullery, Photographer
Troy | OH | USA | Posted: 4:04 PM on 10.26.04
->> Okay. I'll be different there too. How about go Cards.
Peace
Mike
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Joe Nicola, Photographer
Fort Worth | TX | USA | Posted: 4:35 PM on 10.26.04
->> "I’m sure the owner of the vehicle will appreciate what I’ve done, and what I’ll continually do."

Are you sure? Are you sure the owner, whose belongings were stolen, will appreciate what you did? Perhaps he or she will, if you turn in the names to the police department.

Other than that, Omar, I can appreciate your intentions, but you've blurred the line between journalism and civic responsibility. Sure, the keys were lost, but how much trouble would it have been to spend half the effort you spent making those photos to go out and actually find the owner? Or something besides raiding the contents and then tossing the keys in a bush? Do you know how much it costs to replace a Ford key and alarm key fob? Do you care? How 'bout this: The key to that Mustang has a computer chip in it that requires the owner to get a special Ford key when they lose their original. Price? About $75. About another $100 for that Ford keyless entry key fob.

Autumn spoke up in your defense, but I have a hard time cutting you some slack when you had an opportunity to do the right thing and you didn't and then told us all here--photographically--that you didn't. The fact that you explain away your actions as some sort of ersatz artistic license is disappointing. You're young, but the law doesn't see it that way. The law sees you as an adult. And I'm sure the SFSU Department of Public Safety will have some questions for you and your buddies from the night in question.
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Alan Stewart, Photographer, Photo Editor
Corydon | IN | USA | Posted: 4:39 PM on 10.26.04
->> I dunno...Kevin made have had something with his spelling slip. I mean, look at the last pic in Omar's gallery.

One thing leads to another...
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Rick Rowell, Photographer
Canoga Park | CA | Usa | Posted: 4:42 PM on 10.26.04
->> It is my opinion that Omar should be removed from this site. This is poor journalistic ethics at best and participation in a criminal act at worst. Omar new of the crime that was going to possibly be commited before it was commited. That makes him coppable if he does not report this to the campus police. In fact he hoped the crime would be committed so he could get these photos. it's one thing to come upon a crime as it's being committed and photograph it. It's quite another matter to follow the perps with knowege of what may happen and not notify the police. Then, when it does happen not trying to stop it and photographing it , calling it journalism. Omar how would you feel if some photojournalist photographed you dorm room being vandalised and all of you camera equipment being stolen? No one notifing the police until the images were publised some time later giving the thieves the opportunity to fence the cameras before you can recover them. Do you have any human feelings for the owner of that car that these idiots broke into? If this is indeed real and not a setup, then everyone of those responceble should be exspelled from campus and legally prosecuted. Thier records should show what they have done so that they can't be excepted to any self respecting university in this country. I know there aren't many of those left, but what are they teaching in journalism school now? That it's ok to stand by while a crime is being committed (with prior knowege) because the images will look great in my porfolio and help me land that great job at the Times. You have engrandised yourself on the bad fortune of another human. Now how is that being a HUMAN first?
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Allan Campbell, Photographer, Assistant
Salem (Portland) | OR | USA | Posted: 4:44 PM on 10.26.04
->> On a positive note Omar if you are really interested in this type of work check out Larry Clark, Mary Ellen Mark, Lee Friedlander, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Max Waldman. I had an instructor at Art Center named Norman Mauskopf who is another you might enjoy looking at.

This style of reportage is very common. Larry Clarks book on Tulsa comes to mind. Mary Ellen Marks Book Streetwise is another. I am not comparing you (Omar) to those photographers, only pointing out the style of reportage is very common.

The argument about should it be on a Sports dominated forum is another topic all together.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Bradenton | FL | USA | Posted: 4:55 PM on 10.26.04
->> Kevin Cox hit the nail right on the head. Omar, there is a right way and a wrong way to cover sensitive things like this and your cuttlines left me with the impression that you chose the wrong way.

Despite your explanation, I'm still not 100% convinced that your role was strictly journalistic; in fact your explanation sounds like damage control to me. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt though and I've listed your page as a favorite because I'm impressed with you "photographic" style--your "journalistic" style may need some work.

You're a good shooter Omar, learn from this and one day you may very well be a good journalist.
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Zack Podell, Photographer, Assistant
Marina Del Rey | CA | USA | Posted: 5:11 PM on 10.26.04
->> I think that Rick brought up an interesting question, and it is unfortunate that it couldn't have stayed as vague as he brought it in as. The topic of this thread was NOT "Chastize your fellow up and coming SS member" or "ridicule the newbie" or "Where does this PJ get off pulling this type of (insert expletive here)"

This topic was all about our responsibility, and where do people draw their lines. Things like... At what point do we remove ourselves from the situations we're placed in, due to illegal activity? Do we continue documenting acts like these, or do we call the police? As journalists, how do we handle being in a situation like this, and what are we responsible to do?

What if the situation was a little different??? Instead of stumbling upon a group of people out to clean out someone's car, maybe they had the keys to someone's house... and as we were following these people into this house, we watched them rape someone.... or they beat up the people in the house..... or killed someone...

When I go out to shoot skating, we brake tons of laws... From ones as stupid and complicated as skating on the street, or sidewalk, (depends what state you're in) to trespassing, and beyond. I have been in situations, where we are in a school to skate, and some of the kids have decided to do things that I feel are wrong, illegal, detrimental to our freedom, etc. Time and again I have a choice...... and I end up making the choice to either stop them, or leave. I pride myself on the fact that while the police have given the skaters, and myself a hard time over the years, I have yet to have any of the group arrested for our actions. I bring this up, because I could just as easily sit back and take pictures of these guys breaking windows, looting classrooms, stores, or whatever.

Instead, I step in and stop the situation, not because I wanna be a good samaritan, but because my well being is tied in to the actions of this group. I am increasingly concerned that being there, documenting the events, that I would therefore be considered an accessory, or be considered as a co-conspiritor. It is a very complicated issue, and I'd love to see what others have to say from their experience.
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