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Thread: When is the photographer not the photographer?

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    Ausphotography Regular bobt's Avatar
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    When is the photographer not the photographer?

    We had an interclub competition recently, and the winner pointed to herself in the image, saying "That's me!". It transpired that she had orchestrated the shot, conceived it, set it up and constructed the whole scene with the camera on a tripod ready to go. As she wanted to be in the picture, she asked someone to press the shutter button for her.


    Now technically, she did not take the picture - yet it was all her work. She could have used a self-timer if she'd thought of it, or a remote control - but the fact remains that she didn't actually, physically take the shot!

    The judge said that he would have disqualified her, had he known.

    My question is - what do others think? Is it her photograph ? Is she the photographer? Would this be accepted here at Austphotography? Where does that line between skill, artistic ability, knowledge of composition, lighting etc fall?

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    Ausphotography Regular paulheath's Avatar
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    hmm id have to say she is NOT the photographer, all be it they she set everything up she didn't capture the moment. a self timer or a remote like you say would have sealed the job, but she didn't. a bit like taking your driving theory test , then letting someone else do the driving part.........so too speak
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulheath View Post
    hmm id have to say she is NOT the photographer, all be it they she set everything up she didn't capture the moment. a self timer or a remote like you say would have sealed the job, but she didn't. a bit like taking your driving theory test , then letting someone else do the driving part.........so too speak
    It's interesting really, because if you reverse the situation that would also seem to be "wrong". Consider what you might say of the person who pressed the shutter. That could have been a trained chimp, but would you call it "the photographer" ? It goes to the heart of how we determine what we mean by photographer, and how much leeway there is in that definition. I'm not sure that in this example one could call the shutter presser a photographer and yet clearly if there is a photograph then there must have been a photographer?

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    Member michaellxv's Avatar
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    I'll throw in a recent example.
    I was down at the airport viewing area to watch last weeks lunar eclipse, I had the camera all set up on a tripod with cable release taking shots every now and then.
    I handed to cable to my daughter while I went off to do something else. She took a few shots including one with a plane taking off underneath the eclipsed moon. I tried to claim it as I had set the camera up, but she would have none of that. I have to concede she was there to time it and press the button. At best it's a joint effort.
    Last edited by michaellxv; 28-04-2014 at 6:22pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular paulheath's Avatar
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    hmm its a good question, so if a pro photographer in his or her studio has an assistant and the " pro" sets up the lighting, arranges the props, poses the model then the assistant takes the shot, could the "pro" claim that as his or her photo as it was by all accounts his or her equipment etc etc.......i think not. now if the assistant had arranged the lighting, put said person into right position then the " pro" clicked the magic button then yes the "pro" is the photographer.. ( not that pro's get an assistant to do everything ),
    Last edited by paulheath; 28-04-2014 at 6:36pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    I'd be inclined to say they are not the photographer. The pushing of the button is 1% of the photo. Setting up the camera, framing the shot, focus etc is the photographer. Pushing the button is a technicality.
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    It's all about the Light!
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    Legally it's the shutter presser in the first instance.
    Re: the pro/assistant cases, that would be covered by an employment relationship.
    Next time use a wireless remote.

    PS: As a camera club judge I would have to DQ the entry as well.
    Last edited by Kym; 28-04-2014 at 7:31pm.
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    Technicalities are annoying.

    If a computer triggered the shutter after exhaustive setup work by a person, is the computer the photographer.

    I choose this woman as the photographer, rather than the monkey-like bystander.
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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kym View Post
    Legally it's the shutter presser in the first instance.
    Re: the pro/assistant cases, that would be covered by an employment relationship.
    Next time use a wireless remote.

    PS: As a camera club judge I would have to DQ the entry as well.
    It would be an interesting test case if it ever went to court.

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    If the person hired to press the button takes the credit for the image, then so should the remote trigger.
    Technically he "took" the image, but she MADE it...
    She is the artist, he is the voice activated remote trigger..
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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    If the monkey tried to take credit, I'd let them take the credit and then sue them for a million for not getting a model release for me being in the photo

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Heck! A real poser! - Or is that the person pirouetting in front of the camera?
    NO, it's me Hah-ha! Gotchas

    Rather like the film called "The Invisible Man". Anybody see that one?

    They stopped the re-make because the main actor disappeared.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 28-04-2014 at 8:35pm.
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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    My simple question is who actually took the photo?
    In last years AP members challenge I was somehow conned into including me, or part thereof, in each weeks photo. Tripod, self-timer and remote switch became my friends. I had to take these things into account when taking my photos.
    Often thought about just asking my better half to press the shutter button to make it easier for me. That would have stifled my photographic imagination as it was up to me to figure out how I could get the photo I wanted. I was always uneasy about the fact that she took the photo if she pressed the button.
    And if someone else can press the shutter I probably wouldn't have put the thought into how I could do this single exposure self portrait (from last years members challenge),

    53 Self Portrait,.JPG

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    I think this question has broader implications.
    Ever since the digital revolution which brought us the instant review and auto settings, the number of "photographers" out there increased exponentially.
    A person, a monkey or an automatic trigger mechanism, that pushes the button are NOT photographers.
    A camera and a trigger mechanism, human or otherwise are just tools.

    The girl had a vision, she understood light, composition and camera settings to create an image.
    Giving the person who pressed the button credit for that photograph would be like giving Michelangelo's chisel credit for creating David, because it did all the carving.

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    A photographer that uses a trap-mechanism to capture wild animals doesn't take the photo? Oh, I guess we'll have to DQ a couple of great shots we've seen in the past winning all kind of photocompetitions!

    To me, the one that determines what the image looks like is the photographer. That would be the one that "makes the photo".
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    Quote Originally Posted by jev View Post
    To me, the one that determines what the image looks like is the photographer. That would be the one that "makes the photo".
    I'm inclined to agree ... although these days I don't even know that we can call it a "photograph" ! I "took" the image below using a remote control and then software, and the result is certainly all my own work even though I'm in the picture. However, you'd be hard pressed to call it a photograph!


    The_Old_Fart_Camera_Club2.jpg

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobt View Post
    I'm inclined to agree ... although these days I don't even know that we can call it a "photograph" ! I "took" the image below using a remote control and then software, and the result is certainly all my own work even though I'm in the picture. However, you'd be hard pressed to call it a photograph!


    The_Old_Fart_Camera_Club2.jpg
    I think you may be suffering from multiple personality disorder, however, what disturbs me the most about this photo is how few of your personalities are looking at the female walking past...

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    Ausphotography Regular
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissionMan View Post
    I think you may be suffering from multiple personality disorder, however, what disturbs me the most about this photo is how few of your personalities are looking at the female walking past...
    Yeah ... I did stuff that bit up. It was meant to have me looking at her, but I miscalculated badly! I had a broom standing where I thought she'd be in the photo, but when I got home I'd organised it badly, so only the two up at the back RHS were looking. It was a "one chance" use of the hall, so I had to make do with what I'd captured. The girl was actually taken in Estonia someplace, and has no idea where she ended up!!
    Last edited by bobt; 29-04-2014 at 12:29pm.

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    Photo Bizarro nimrodisease's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissionMan View Post
    I'd be inclined to say they are not the photographer. The pushing of the button is 1% of the photo. Setting up the camera, framing the shot, focus etc is the photographer. Pushing the button is a technicality.
    I agree with this.

    I would say that the person who orchestrated the photo is the photographer. If someone has a vision, chooses a composition and exposure settings and has everything ready to go on a tripod, then it doesn't matter who presses the shutter.

    Unless, I suppose, it is something that requires impeccable timing. Even still, the person who presses the shutter has little or no creative involvement in the making of the photo.

    Just to throw something else into the mix... what about a situation where someone has used a lightning trigger to fire the shutter? Or some cameras now have a feature where if it detects a smile it will take a photo. Does this mean that the person who has set up the camera did not take the photo?!
    Last edited by nimrodisease; 29-04-2014 at 1:09pm.
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    Ausphotography Regular bcys1961's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CandidTown View Post
    The girl had a vision, she understood light, composition and camera settings to create an image.
    I'm sympathetic to this view.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by bobt View Post
    I'm inclined to agree ... although these days I don't even know that we can call it a "photograph" ! I "took" the image below using a remote control and then software, and the result is certainly all my own work even though I'm in the picture. However, you'd be hard pressed to call it a photograph!


    Hi Bobt , I guess you would call this photo manipulation , not a photograph , but you might like to exhibit it at the Sydney Biennale Art Festivel next time it is on. This artist has done exactly the same thing.

    https://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/19bos/artists/cook/

    He obviously pinched your idea!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by bobt View Post
    I'm inclined to agree ... although these days I don't even know that we can call it a "photograph" ! I "took" the image below using a remote control and then software, and the result is certainly all my own work even though I'm in the picture. However, you'd be hard pressed to call it a photograph!


    Hi Bobt , I guess you would call this photo manipulation , not a photograph , but you might like to exhibit it at the Sydney Biennale Art Festivel next time it is on. This artist has done exactly the same thing.

    https://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/19bos/artists/cook/

    He obviously pinched your idea!
    The name is Brad ......

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