The Ethics of
News Photographers


Dear Sir:

Can you please tell me how to obtain permission to use the weeping man that appears on your website

as part of an advertisement to be included in a newspaper?

It appears the photographer is unknown, but perhaps you would be able to tell me if copyright permission is necessary.

--- K. P.
Dublin, Ireland
Hi, K. P.:

Years ago when the photograph first appeared, we read that it was a Frenchmen on the streets of Paris in June, 1940, the day the victorious Nazis marched through the Arc d'Triumphe. Other authorities claim it was taken on the streets of Marseilles as the French troops shipped out that month. One even has it that it is of a man viewing the French army abandoning Toulon.

Of all the photographs, drawings, and etchings that RALPH has placed on-line these last fourteen years, it is the one that continues to outdraw all the others.

We introduced the picture in our discussion of Carole Naggar's book on the photographer George Rodger. Our reviewer said,

    I've often wondered about the photographer who took this astonishing shot. What did he think? What did he feel? Did he worry about invading a man's sacred space? Did he think that because he was behind a camera he had a right to extract, even gain from another man's grief? Was he weeping too? Did he excuse himself for intruding himself on the man's sorrow (capturing a sorrow that can --- even now --- capture the rest of us?)

    Every time I look in the newspapers or magazines or on TV and see just such a picture --- a woman after her son has been murdered; the face of a man whose son has died in the military service; a granny who has been divested of her home by some charlatan --- I think of the photographer who suddenly appears on the scene and without permission envelops someone else's tragedy, stealing it for his own.

That you would want to use this astounding photograph as "part of an advertisement to be included in a newspaper" makes us feel uneasy. Would you not be using "someone else's tragedy" for your own purposes?

--- Lolita Lark
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