What’s in a Photo

When it’s time to select the photos for the next issue of FWJ, all we usually have to worry about is whether the ones we choose are still available for publication. But this time a couple of photos caused special concern.

First, we wanted to publish a picture of an Iranian woman sitting in a stairwell. It was in the layout and ready to go, but there was one potential problem: the woman’s scarf had slipped off her head. Our editor wondered if we needed to worry, citing the recent news story about the woman in Iran facing 99 lashes for appearing in a photo without hijab. We would be sending copies of the journal to Iran, and what if they fell into the wrong hands? Slim chance, but a horrifying thought and a risk we weren’t willing to take. We discussed the issue with the photographer, who admitted that he doesn’t even take photos on the streets of Tehran, for safety reasons. We pulled the photo.

Then another photographer asked us if she needs to get her subject’s permission for us to publish her photo of a woman in a Statue of Liberty costume, waving from the sidewalk. An American. While the Iranian photographer is afraid to take photos on the street, this vantage point is exactly what makes it okay for the American photographer to submit and publish her photo without her subject’s consent. The American Society of Media Photographers states, “Yes, you can photograph strangers in public places, unless you do it to such an extent and in such a way that you become a harasser or nuisance to the public.” As a result, you’ll see this photo in the fall issue.

I only wish you could see both.

Jenn Hollmeyer

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