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The Politics In Photography Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

30 July 2018

Over the weekend Kevin Raber published Changes on the Forum -- Coffee Corner. In that piece Jeremy Roussak, who moderated the political discussions in Luminous Landscape's forums, observed that "political discussions are tainting the Luminous Landscape 'community' (in quotes because it is a word I cordially dislike, but in this context I can think of none better) to the extent that they cannot be allowed to continue."

Raber and Roussak raise an interesting issue. It's one we've thought about seriously. Every publisher must.

One of the brighter decisions we made when we launched Photo Corners in 2012 was not to hitch Discourse or some other forum software to our star.

Our ambition for Photo Corners wasn't to end hunger or establish global peace or even just to drive up site traffic to increase revenue. It was simply to make the world a slightly better place.

We have always enjoyed hearing from you but, taking a cue from years in publishing, we preferred the near civility of letters to the editor to anonymous forum posts (even when moderated, which we certainly didn't have time for). So we enabled our Feedback button, which only permits comments via email.

Discourse here, consequently, has sometimes been political but always civil.

Photography is not some ivory tower safe from politics.

We feel it's unfortunate that LuLa can't support political discussion. Tirades, no, but discussion has a place, particularly in an era when legitimate news outlets publishing the work of both reporters and photojournalists are being slandered by a sitting president.

But then we have always thought photography plays a critical role in a free press. We thought that lesson was learned during the Arab Spring when smartphones told the world what was going on under a blanket of censorship.

And certainly photojournalists have risked and even given their lives covering the political storms sweeping the globe. You don't have to read many of our obits to find someone who was cut down reporting from a war zone.

Photography is not some ivory tower safe from politics.

LuLa, of course, focuses on the art of photography and we don't mean to disparage Raber's decision to protect the site. He gave increased moderation a try, after all.

And certainly you won't read many stories related to the current administration's policies here. But we won't avoid citing the work of photographers whose projects involve them. You can no doubt name a few photographers cited here whose work addresses our changing environment and immigration issues, to name just two.

We are political animals, after all, engaged in the discussion of how our resources should be shared locally and globally. And that discussion only profits from the information we absorb from trusted sources.

This administration is not among those sources, setting new lows for candor, new highs for deceit. And, as the new publisher of the New York Times recently pointed out to the president, his attacks on a free press are "putting lives at risk" and "undermining the democratic ideals of our nation."

In that light, we can't allow civic discourse to be steered by Russian trolls or religious fanatics or merely the uninformed. Nor should it be silenced by them.


I read with interest the above article and want to say thank you for it. I totally agree with you when you say "photography plays a critical role in a free press" and to my mind photography can "say" things that mere words can not and in that respect it is not only in the press that it has a role but it is also important for any photographer to remember. It is a matter of integrity and as thinking photographers once we lose that we become irrelevant.

Your final two paragraphs are spot on and I share their sentiments. The present United States Administration has indeed "set new lows for candor, new highs for deceit" American photographers have a particular responsibility to maintain honesty in these times but I believe that those of us who are not American citizens also share that obligation.

So thank you once again for your timely article.

-- Andrew-Bede Allsop

Very necessary--and nicely done.

-- M. J. Melneck

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