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Starsphinx

Captioning - problems with evidence of description

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Here's where ethics get in the way of business. There are evidently agencies with far fewer qualms, but they don't read this forum.

The risk of problems is tiny but it's not zero- like many other business risks, you'll have to make the call. My option of leaving it out of the caption, but tagging it, is one way.

 

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30 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I totally get the importance of only putting what you see from an ethical and legal point of view.

The dilemma is that customers are not going to search  " Man, lying down, ground, beach, fully clothed, eyes closed, beer cans " - they are going to search "drunk man on a beach"

So I  may have the exact photograph they want - but if I cannot or do not caption it and/or keyword it with the terms they are going to use in a search they are not going to find it.  So they may take a less exact photo from Alamy and not be 100% happy, they may go and use a different stock company altogether, and I don't get the sale.  The last one is negative only to me the first 2 are negatives for the whole of Alamy and every contributor here.

 

I once put "skin disorder" as a keyword on a portrait of a female Viking re-enacator, who had the worst case of excema I've ever seen. She found the photo (or was told about it, actually), on Alamy and asked me to take it down, as I was putting her in "a bad light". She was happy to have the photo taken in the first place (in the Viking context), but did not want the negative association with the skin disorder. Just sayin'.

Edited by Steve Valentia

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48 minutes ago, Steve Valentia said:

 

As per my last post (above), I wouldn't use any of those keywords. I'd use...Man, lying down, ground, beach, fully clothed, eyes closed, beer cans...etc

 

33 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

I totally get the importance of only putting what you see from an ethical and legal point of view.

The dilemma is that customers are not going to search  " Man, lying down, ground, beach, fully clothed, eyes closed, beer cans " - they are going to search "drunk man on a beach"

So I  may have the exact photograph they want - but if I cannot or do not caption it and/or keyword it with the terms they are going to use in a search they are not going to find it.  So they may take a less exact photo from Alamy and not be 100% happy, they may go and use a different stock company altogether, and I don't get the sale.  The last one is negative only to me the first 2 are negatives for the whole of Alamy and every contributor here.

 

I am in total agreement with Steve here. Say what you see and no more. At worst you run the risk of defamation by adding your own personal interpretation of the scene and the reason why the guy is lying there. He could have overdosed on drugs, he could have been mugged, he could have had a really hard night out on the town, he might have been temporarily kicked out of his house by his wife/husband. If you want to do this really properly, then why not set it up with an actor or ask permission (when the subject is not unconscious). 

 

The real homeless are very easy targets for "street photographers". If I was going to photograph a homeless person I would ask permission and give them a few quid for their trouble, possibly even get a model release and pay them more than a few quid. 

Edited by MDM

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22 minutes ago, MDM said:

 

 

I am in total agreement with Steve here. Say what you see and no more. At worst you run the risk of defamation by adding your own personal interpretation of the scene and the reason why the guy is lying there. He could have overdosed on drugs, he could have been mugged, he could have had a really hard night out on the town, he might have been temporarily kicked out of his house by his wife/husband. If you want to do this really properly, then why not set it up with an actor or ask permission (when the subject is not unconscious). 

 

The real homeless are very easy targets for "street photographers". If I was going to photograph a homeless person I would ask permission and give them a few quid for their trouble, possibly even get a model release and pay them more than a few quid. 

Again I am not disagreeing with Steve - and can I just make it clear that just because I suggest or explore subjects ideas in the forum does not automatically mean I will transfer them to actual practice.  Outside of photography I love debating and the whole swapping of ideas and exploring theoretical stuff.  The photo of the guy on the beach is not mine and I would not have captioned that way - but I have used it as an example of what is available on Alamy, to explore the whole direct competition aspect.

Regards actual homeless - and substance abuse, mental illness, vulnerability etc.  I certainly am aware of the huge risks of manipulation and abuse - and I of the opinion that the best way to approach is to offer a model release and payment for services.  (I am in 2 minds about just giving money - I have been on the streets myself and as Daily Mailish as it sounds there are scammers out there, and also for some being given straightforward cash does not actually help them but allows them to feed a habit).  Having said that there are always going to be incidents where approach and offer of payment are not possible - and where photographs are begging to be taken.  The shot I screwed up of the guy passing out in a McDonald's doorway is a case in point.  There was a meaningful impact statement  - if the guy was not homeless and addicted to something he was the best bloody actor I have seen, it was not just sight it was sound and smell.  However approach before taking the shot would have destroyed the shot - and approach at all was risky, at the least, it would have got verbal abuse at worst physical assault.  So if I had got the shot I would have had an image I could have captioned with things like scruffy dirty asleep  (possibly smelly incoherent as I could swear to those as a witness) - when the image was crying out for "homeless man under influence of drink or drugs passes out in doorway of fast food establishment"

It is easier and more helpful to explore this subject here on the forum prior to having such a situation come up again.  Like I said because I discuss possibilities here does not mean I would actually do that

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I am also very happy to debate, argue, discuss things objectively as well which is what I was doing above - and as so many others have said I believe it is vital not to interpret the scene - a purely semantic/pedantic argument from my perspective. I don't suggest going up to people who are clearly temporarily or permanently indisposed to rational discussion for whatever reason but if one must photograph them the same applies - don't assume anything about them that you are not 100% sure about.

 

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It's worth noting how often a contentious story (about homelessness, alcoholism, drug abuse, prostitution, etc) is illustrated with pix which don't feature recognisable people at all. They may be rear views, faces in shadow, out-of-focus, just parts of bodies, etc. Those corporate lawyers are keen to avoid lawsuits before they happen...

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Why not assume that someone who is in a state he/she cannot give consent, would never ever give you consent?

 

wim

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I fully agree that the title and description should only mention what is actually visible in the picture. 
But I don't think the keywords belong to the image description. The keywords, unlike the title, are not necessarily public. They only serve to support the search process and not to describe the photo. Not even the explanation. 
That's why I think that the keywords can contain anything that helps to find the photo. Completely independent and detached from the content of the picture. 

 

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

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1 minute ago, wiskerke said:

Why not assume that someone who is in a state he/she cannot give consent, would never ever give you consent?

 

wim

Consent is irrelevant for editorial pictures.  I so some work for a specialist 999 news service.  To say consent is frequently not given is an understatement.  I am fully used to having people - from the police who should know better down - requesting or demanding photos not be used or be deleted (no the police have never asked deletion but they do try and stop publication or being taken in the first place) and the rule/law is if I am stood on in a public place taking pictures of something that can clearly be seen from that place then no consent is required and publication cannot be stopped.  Don't get me wrong - I am the service are as tactful and accommodating as we can be - if good reason is given then faces will be pixilated (for example firearms officers on other duties) pictures of casualties  are not identifiable - but if you have just had handcuffs slapped on in the middle of the high street not wanting your parents to find out  is not a good reason.  

With pictures of people, I am always assuming non-consent - but that does not affect the taking or publication.  The problem is the making the photo findable while not breaking the rules on the description.   If the customer wants a picture representative of homelessness they are going to search homelessness - if I have a picture representative of homelessness I need them to find it - and somehow have to achieve this without calling it "homelessness".   This would be a lot easier if the extra information was searchable as it would be easy to put "the person in this picture may possibly be homeless but I have not been able to ascertain this fact and it must not be assumed" or words to that effect.  As it is the only choice is to add negators in keywords so the picture shows in searches but the photographer has not made false statements.

 

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3 minutes ago, spiegel said:

I fully agree that the title and description should only mention what is actually visible in the picture. 
But I don't think the keywords belong to the image description. The keywords, unlike the title, are not necessarily public. They only serve to support the search process and not to describe the photo. Not even the explanation. 
That's why I think that the keywords can contain anything that helps to find the photo. Completely independent and detached from the content of the picture. 

 

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

That is actually a very good way of thinking - like adding "christmas" as a keyword to a snowy scene even if it was taken in February and had nothing to do with Christmas but would make an attractive Christmas image.

 

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2 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

Consent is irrelevant for editorial pictures.  I so some work for a specialist 999 news service.  To say consent is frequently not given is an understatement.  I am fully used to having people - from the police who should know better down - requesting or demanding photos not be used or be deleted (no the police have never asked deletion but they do try and stop publication or being taken in the first place) and the rule/law is if I am stood on in a public place taking pictures of something that can clearly be seen from that place then no consent is required and publication cannot be stopped.  Don't get me wrong - I am the service are as tactful and accommodating as we can be - if good reason is given then faces will be pixilated (for example firearms officers on other duties) pictures of casualties  are not identifiable - but if you have just had handcuffs slapped on in the middle of the high street not wanting your parents to find out  is not a good reason.  

With pictures of people, I am always assuming non-consent - but that does not affect the taking or publication.  The problem is the making the photo findable while not breaking the rules on the description.   If the customer wants a picture representative of homelessness they are going to search homelessness - if I have a picture representative of homelessness I need them to find it - and somehow have to achieve this without calling it "homelessness".   This would be a lot easier if the extra information was searchable as it would be easy to put "the person in this picture may possibly be homeless but I have not been able to ascertain this fact and it must not be assumed" or words to that effect.  As it is the only choice is to add negators in keywords so the picture shows in searches but the photographer has not made false statements.

 

Not entirely. This is for newsworthy images only. Which is not exactly the same as all editorial.

And then there's common decency. In the case of newsworthy images there's a news desk and an editor that will have a second professional look at it. With stock in general but also with just editorial stock that check on what's fit to print/send is totally in the hands of the photographer, because one cannot assume any professionalism nor decency in a later stage.

 

wim

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21 minutes ago, spiegel said:

I fully agree that the title and description should only mention what is actually visible in the picture. 

That's why I think that the keywords can contain anything that helps to find the photo. Completely independent and detached from the content of the picture. 

Agree with that. We have had two levels of these 'substitute police' set up to patrol the town's main streets with varying powers, a move which has raised much anger as their main duty appears to be to 'cleanse' the street of the homeless and other 'undesirables' - issues which many believe should be tackled in other ways. Anyone searching for images of these officers for those stories would most likely use terms which are contentious and not truthful to the image, but logic says they should be in the tags else the image won't find its use.

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newsworthy images are one thing but filling up the Alamy servers with more and more photographs of people down on their luck is another matter. I was shocked to find over 21 thousand images answering for "Homeless" as a search. Enough! The real answer to the original post is: never mind the keywording, why do it all? Please support charities and helpful solutions for the homeless rather than trying to make a small profit from their misery.

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2 hours ago, Robert M Estall said:

newsworthy images are one thing but filling up the Alamy servers with more and more photographs of people down on their luck is another matter. I was shocked to find over 21 thousand images answering for "Homeless" as a search. Enough! The real answer to the original post is: never mind the keywording, why do it all? Please support charities and helpful solutions for the homeless rather than trying to make a small profit from their misery.

Well said.  Many years ago the editor of the Sun, at that time, said that his photographers were there to record life events and not to take part in them. So that precluded them from helping at natural disasters, or accidents or even giving money to the needy. He was wrong. You are right. 

Edited by Steve Valentia
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1 hour ago, Robert M Estall said:

newsworthy images are one thing but filling up the Alamy servers with more and more photographs of people down on their luck is another matter. I was shocked to find over 21 thousand images answering for "Homeless" as a search. Enough! The real answer to the original post is: never mind the keywording, why do it all? Please support charities and helpful solutions for the homeless rather than trying to make a small profit from their misery.

There are several answers to that - but the main one is since when has any issue ever been that simple or that black and white.

Starting from the top - who is defining newsworthy here?  The photographer deciding whether or not to take a photo, the news editor searching with a specific story or article in mind, or the subject of any photograph who probably does not want to be seen in less than their best light?

As to why do it - well in the original image that provoked this thread I was detailing an interaction involving one of the town hosts rather than who she was talking to.  Not to mention that from what I have observed of this particular set up the hosts are acting as important interfaces helping vulnerable people access the right services.  The interaction I shot was friendly and I hope to hell I caught that.

Support charities and helpful solutions - well you have no idea what I do and do not support or how I support it.  I have been homeless - not every charity or initiative is actually helpful.  They can vary from well-meaning but mistaken in the process, through to maintain the customer base because the directors are on a nice salary.  The obvious way forward for photographers is to carry model releases and pay the subjects for their services.  I will point out this benefits better than just charity because it is payment for value - which can give a tiny sense of pride - if the transaction is performed properly (I do not mean Oi yer homeless heres 20 if I take your picture)

Finally - isn't the fact that there so many pictures of homelessness news in and of itself?  If we are not taking pictures how the hell is the world supposed to know the problem hasn't gone away?  I do not actually buy into the whole "them and us" "nasty rich v honourable poor" narrative but at the same time if there are not photographers documenting things they are easy to brush under the carpet and for people to ignore.

PS  you may want to be more specific in your search - add a town name to it.  A search for homeless with the town I took the picture in returns 2 images - one of a charity shop and my shot.  I assure you there are homeless people in that town - because I have spent time with them.  For my home town there are no images - again I know there are people homeless here (and I will probably try to rectify that search result in the near future).  So pick half a dozen towns around you and search homeless with their names - and if the search results are nil ask yourself if that is because there are no homeless there or is it because nobody cares enough to go out and document it. 

 

 

Edited by Starsphinx

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Thanks, I don't often do sanctimonious, but I was a close-run-thing once a good many years ago. I'm not sure documenting is really that helpful but I take that you have been there. Not a good place to be

Edited by Robert M Estall

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On 11/26/2018 at 12:01, Robert M Estall said:

Thanks, I don't often do sanctimonious, but I was a close-run-thing once a good many years ago. I'm not sure documenting is really that helpful but I take that you have been there. Not a good place to be

 

I don't photograph homeless people because they don't have private places to retreat to.  All the rest of us can go home and lock a door. 

 

Too many street photographers of homeless people claim they are making the plight of the homeless wider known.  I'm not sure seeing someone whose life is in such disorder that he or she lives in the street get other people motivated to help.  Don't say that it might not motivate some people, but the photographs also can create a sense of smugness about how well our lives are going in comparison.  Some people are going to victim blame or call for removal of the homeless to some kind of facility.  Reading George Orwell's essays on living on the streets are still relevant today.  

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I accept that it can be awkward - and there are issues around it - however, the easiest way is to treat and interact with homeless people the same as you would any others.  Talk to them - ask them.  Some homeless will be cool with having photos done - others not.  The biggest mistake you can make is to treat homeless people as one big homogenous group - they are no more homogenous than photographers.

Again the shot I started this thread over was of the town host rather than the men she was talking to.

Also, my whole point of evidence for captioning does extend beyond the subject of homelessness.  Is that person with a five o clock shadow in a dress and wig someone on a stag do, a female impersonator,  a cross-dresser, or someone transitioning gender?  Or none of the above.  Is the guy with the huge hand rolled conical smoking object using marijuana or just trying to look like they are?  Is that person's glasses for correcting vision or plain glass?  Is the staggering person drunk, suffering diabetes, a head injury, or play acting?

When you have an image which customers are likely to search for using context description words how do you navigate the legalities of sticking to pure facts while still making sure the image is found. 

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One possible option is to use non specific phrases in the key words like Homelessness. I would however steer clear of drunkenness.

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Homelessness in Hastings, East Sussex, UKStock Photo

 

 

 

 

 

Used by several charities to illustrate a point. Homelessness is the only keyword you need.

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On 11/25/2018 at 17:21, spacecadet said:

Based solely on what I see, I certainly wouldn't make that assumption. Unless I had some more information I'd most likely be leaving that one alone- without the hook of homelessness it's just some folks having a chat.

It's  perfect  source material for a discussion about things not being what they seem and not jumping to conclusions.

Exactly my thoughts

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I have a couple of images of presumed homeless people and I have the caption as follows.

'Please note the term homeless and homelessness and any other description cannot be assumed correct'

 

Homelessness is a social issue and as such images will be needed to bring that to the public attention, I don't think we should ignore that when taking photographs.

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It's a great debate and I dare say there is a lot of good advice being given, but if you want to be as certain as you can be in your captions and keywords for these types of picture I would advocate seeking professional legal advice. It's your neck on the block if you get it wrong and things go pear shaped. I guess another thing to weigh up is how much money do you think you could make from the pictures against the potential cost of getting professional advice. Unless you have a good friend who happens to be a lawyer. Good luck.

Edited by Dave Richards

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And the that is the crux - where certain terms are the most likely to be searched, but which the photographer cannot be 100% on, how do you make sure the images are found in searches without sticking your head in the noose as it were.  Remembering these days such areas can include something as seemingly innocuous as gender statements.

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12 hours ago, Dave Richards said:

It's a great debate and I dare say there is a lot of good advice being given, but if you want to be as certain as you can be in your captions and keywords for these types of picture I would advocate seeking professional legal advice. It's your neck on the block if you get it wrong and things go pear shaped. I guess another thing to weigh up is how much money do you think you could make from the pictures against the potential cost of getting professional advice. Unless you have a good friend who happens to be a lawyer. Good luck.

IMO that's overkill. A lawyer's fee would exceed my Alamy sales for the year.

Unless the material is highly  contentious, in which case Alamy may not be the right place for it, it's quite possible to protect oneself by simply captioning accurately and not guessing. The advice not to use a potentially disparaging description unless one is quite sure of it is perfectly reasonable.

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