“If only his eyes were open…” “If only that clock were not behind his head…” Jack Zibluck, who teaches photojournalism at Arkansas State University, says the only way to deal with these musings is to say “No.” Just because you can make a photo better by asking a subject to move or “fixing” the background after the fact does not mean you should. But in the June issue of the NPPA magazine NewsPhotographer, Zibluck admits he’s said “yes” more than once.
“The ethical slippery slope is addictive. But one thing about slippery slopes: they are more slippery than they appear, and once you step on it, you will eventually slip and fall.”
In an era where anyone can manipulate a photograph, Zibluck’s candor and his warning are welcome . If you do give in to the “if only” voice, admit it. Apologize. Move on. But you’d be much wiser to say “no.” If you say “yes,” Zibluck points out, “the slimy slippery-slope stain is…there, and it probably always will be.”