This man in Bhaktapur, Nepal was creating pottery in an unlit alcove when I spoke to him and he glanced at me. It was at that moment I snapped the picture. I didn't stage the photo; he was simply doing his work when I came along and photographed him. It wasn't a set-up shot, designed to look like a man creating pottery. (Of course I asked permission to use the photo, after I'd taken it).
Documentary photography involves chronicling reality. Yet one of the biggest names in the business sparked controversy last week when it was discovered he staged a prize-winning photo and plagiarised the caption. At best, this is careless journalism. At worst, it's unethical and shows a reckless disregard for the subject of the photo, as well as for the integrity of the story being reported.
These days, with manipulation and spin too often obscuring hard facts, it's getting more and more difficult to determine the truth. If a talented documentary photographer with a string of awards chooses to stage a photo to illustrate an idea - without identifying it as staged - one has to wonder when blurring the lines between fact and fiction became acceptable - and even applauded - in photojournalism.
Read more about the controversy:
Photo © Tara Bradford. Click to view detail.