Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Respecting Privacy

Last week I had to photograph the funeral of Hannah McFarland, the 19-year-old reigning Miss Minden who was killed in a car accident. A number of nasty comments (and some nice ones) were posted in our online forums about our coverage of the event. One read:

Can not the media let the family alone at this time ? If I looked up and there was a camera pointed at me or my family while they were trying to deal with this loss I would take that camera and the you know what I would do with it. Why would the Times (The Local Liar) paste that photo of the family ???? Yes we all know times are hard for print media and this is just one of many reasons not to buy the Times.

Another reader responded to that post with: You would have done nothing unless you wanted to pay for $2,000-$5,000 worth of photographic equipment. The photographer was likely nowhere near the people pictured, he was most likely tucked off to the side out of view so as not to disturb such a solemn moment. Contrary to what you obviously believe, he is a professional and was most likely very courteous to everyone around him as photographers typically are when covering something like this. Unless specified, the photographers have just as much right to be there as any one else. This clearly wasn't done with malicious intent, it was done beautifully and artfully as a tribute for the family.

I couldn't say that any better (except for use of the word she; many people are suprised when a woman photographer shows up at their event - some even comment how they were expecting a male - but that's another post altogether). While standing near the grave, the young woman's uncle came up to me and thanked me for being there. This is often the case - the family wants us around and wants to be sure their loved one is remembered in a positive light. They often contact us months later and acknowledge that we provided them valuable keepsakes. If they don't want there, they're quick to tell us so and we respect their wishes.

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