Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Thou Shall Not Set up Photo!"

During a photo assignment to take pictures of baby lemurs at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, I ran across a problem in showing just how tiny these furry creatures were when there were stuck behind a glass window and were asleep in their bassinettes. Lucky, a local TV photographer and reporter arrived in the nick of time to solve that problem.

According to the National Press Photographers Associations Code of Ethics rule number 5. It states, “While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.” Somehow those rules only seem to apply to still photographers and not TV photographers.

After setting up his camera and tripod in front of the glass window and taking a few shots. He said the one of the Zoo’s staff if they could move the babies closer to the window for a better shot. The staffer walked over to a box of rubber gloves, pick up a green pair and pink pair and asked the TV photographer, which would look better. “Pink”, he replied. I didn’t say a thing and let him set up the photo.

Donning the pink gloves, the attendants picked up the lemurs and moved them closer to the window. Not only by holding them in their hands, give size in relationship to a human hand, but also the pink gloves were a nice added touch of color.

When I returned to the paper and told the story to our Director of Photography, he asked if I said anything at all to change the situation? “Nope, nada, nothing, the TV photographer and reporter set it up", I replied, they took control over the whole situation. “Good, and you managed to get a nice feature picture of a hard subject.” He said.

So next time you see something shot by a TV photographer for the nightly news, you just gotta wonder just how much part they played in contributing to influence the event filmed.


  1. TV people set stuff up ALL THE TIME.
    I saw the guys from the Seattle stations do it constantly when I worked for newspapers - usually after they missed something, they'd ask someone to "do it again."
    Once I was at a scene where police were investigating something at a house. Nothing was going on, and it was pretty boring... so a KOMO photographer asked the police to pretend like they were carrying evidence away from the scene. The police complied... with EMPTY paper bags!! Even though it was orchestrated by the TV guy, I didn't shoot it.
    I find it interesting that TV photographers are represented by the same professional organization as still photographers (NPPA), yet the rules don't seem to apply to them.

  2. Yeah, I use to see this a lot too when I shot with newspapers at events also covered by TV. Funny how the rules seem to be different. But good for you for taking advantage of the situation to get a good shoot with compromising yourself.

  3. Hahahahaha Kevin, you knew the station I was talking about. Those guys do it every time.