Ethics in Photography 

The number of images captured and shared each day today is increasing rapidly. There are cameras everywhere. However, with the increasing number of photographers and photographs, there is also a rise in the ethical issues in photography. The images we see today on the internet and other sources are becoming harder to trust as they are being staged, faked, altered, or copied at an alarming rate. While ethics in media is a huge topic, and photography is just a small part of it, let us talk about the ill practices in this field that you should avoid.

Tree reflections

Photo by Johannes Plenio


A common unethical practice on the rise these days in the world of photography is plagiarism. Plagiarism in its simplest terms means stealing the idea of someone else to create your own work, without giving any credit to the original source. Photo plagiarism is on the rise these days. Is it okay to steal someone else’s idea that they came up with after a thorough creative process? Definitely not.  And this becomes all the more deceitful when you are not even giving credit to the source. While it is ok to take inspiration from other artists, but copying their work from every angle, perspective, color, subject, and even the composition, that it looks exactly like the one from the source is not inspiration but copying and plagiarism. Sadly, this has become a norm in the modern world, especially after the advent of social media. Photographs are plagiarized every single day and many times, the plagiarized photos become more famous than the original ones. This is highly unethical. Furthermore, why would you want to copy anyone? Don’t you want to be an original? Be a trendsetter.

Image Theft

With the advent of the internet, the same images are available to everyone and are also used widely by people without giving any acknowledgment to the source. Image theft is loud and clear in some cases, while in others, there are other means used to take someone else’s image, like altering or manipulating it a little before using it. No matter how you do it, it is image theft, which is strictly against ethics and the law. Stealing the photos captured by others or the ones that are the copyright of others, is a big no if you want to work in this industry ethically and not burn your name. You can also get sued for a lot of money for stealing other peoples work. 

Photography ethics what you need to know

Photo by Erwin Bosman

Photo Manipulation

Another area of ethics in photography to talk about is photo manipulation. While some protagonists of photography are of the belief that photographs should never be manipulated, even cropping should not be allowed. At the same time, there are people who manipulate photos in such a way that the whole meaning of the image changes, and so does the impact. A number of photography genres are affected by photo manipulation.

News, Reportage and Documentary: One of the most highly affected genres of photography is the news and documentary one. People manipulate images in such a negative way that the entire meaning of the photo is altered. It becomes biased towards one particular view of the situation. News reporters, war reporters, political reporters etc do this quite frequently to shape the perception of the audience.

Fashion Photography: Another genre of photography where excessive photo manipulation is used is fashion photography. From necessary retouching to changing the entire physique of the models, everything is done seamlessly these days. This breeds complexes and insecurities in people who follow these stars closely. They put these heavily photoshopped celebrities on a pedestal, who actually don’t even look like that in real life.

There are many things to discuss when it comes to ethics in photography. It is important to be as ethical as we can with our photography and photos and be a positive force in the industry.