adDRESSing the issue

June 21st, 2010

“May I ask why you chose the picture you did of Alina Ching?  You know that picture was awful and yet still printed it.  I have been photographed hundreds of times and I know just as well as you do that a photographer takes teens if not hundreds of pictures in order to find a good photo to use.  This is the best you could find?  Or did you purposely sabotage a girl’s article by posting a poorly chosen picture?  Great job in taking away from the intent of the article.

Not only should you be ashamed of your choice of photograph, you owe that young girl a public apology.  For obvious reasons!!”

–email from one of many alarmed and spiteful readers–one prominent in the golf world.

First off, let me say this:

I DID NOT choose the photograph of Alina Ching to run in that Tuesday edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.  I DID file the photograph, however, because it was a different, peak-action sports photograph that showcased the power and precision in a swing that only Alina Ching can deliver.

I had photographed Alina Ching a few months ago at Waialae Country Club for the ILH golf tourney, and she’s a nice, well-mannered, and talented kid.  It grieved me to see all of the hateful comments on our website which ultimately came back to the photograph that ran taken by me.  But here is the bottom line:

The photograph is only as alarming or offensive as the viewer makes it to be.  There are no body parts showing.  I was in full view of the players when I pressed the shutter button, so they were aware that I was photographing them.

I am a photojournalist.  Like others in my field, I cover news, and news happens the way it happens.  There’s no sugar-coating, no cushioning the fall, no second chances.

With this in mind, I am firmly going to stand by my decision to file the photograph of Alina Ching teeing off from the 14th teebox.  To give the alarmed readers some perspective, here’s another photograph from the exact same spot, albeit a different golfer.

Max Bonk watches his drive off the tee box on the 14th hole of the first round of the 2010 Manoa Cup on Monday, June 14, 2010 at Oahu Country Club in Nuuanu. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Here’s another shot of Alina from a different teebox:

Alina Ching of Punahou hits from the teebox on the 10th hole of the first round of the 2010 Manoa Cup on Monday, June 14, 2010 at Oahu Country Club in Nuuanu. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

As you can see, no matter where the shot was taken from, the power of Alina’s swing always made her shirt rise when she extended.

Like I said,

I am a photojournalist.

I shoot what’s in front of me.  No more.  No less.  This has been the long-standing ethic of thousands of other photojournalists around the globe, and a big reason why viewers are still able to see the people, places, things, and events that they see today.

7 Responses to “adDRESSing the issue”

  1. jonathon Dong:

    I see nothing wrong with this picture. Its obviously wrong in the minds of those who choose to put their mind in the gutter. Its sad when good photographers get crap while others are being glorified with million dollar shots of pantyless stars. As for the young woman in the picture maybe she should wear more conservative clothes, your in the public eye now and obviously what you wore has sparked perverted interest in some who viewed your photo and saw it for what they wanted to see it for.

  2. a viewer:

    Very good blog. A photojournalist covers events without sugarcoating them. That is the basic ethical standard for all in journalism. If people have issue with your photograph, why don’t those same people call up Alina’s family to lambaste the parents for letting their daughter walk out of the house dressed in what some might think is slightly inappropriate? Why don’t they write Alina and tell her that her skirt was too short, or that her swing is bad cause she shows her tummy. Why don’t these same people call up her school and her coach to complain? Why don’t those same people throw rocks at her next time they see her. They surely would like to throw rocks at you.

    Forums allow people to be much braver than they would be in public. Many of these people would never say anything directly to you nor would they cancel their subscription. And they’d never throw a rock.

    You did your job. You might next time reconsider how you portray your subjects or carefully edit your images but sometimes a duck is a duck no matter what angle, lens, or camera you use.

    And as far as the reader who wrote stating you sabotaged that girl’s article is an idiot. They don’t know what they are talking about. Besides, that photo was the best thing that could have happen to her. EVERYONE who saw the paper that day knows who Alina Ching. She’s famous. She’s the girl with the great swing. Can anyone name the other people in the article? That idiot can’t, thats for sure.

  3. Michael:

    News or Tabloid?

  4. Sprayhawk:

    I remember seeing the image when it was first posted and honestly don’t remember seeing ‘anything’. What I did see was a unique angle for the golfer to be striking the ball at – that is what I remembered.

    Without a doubt, this young golfer is aware of what her clothes do when she plays. IF it was an issue for her, she would be wearing clothes that don’t ‘expose’ her.

    Bottom line – there is nothing wrong with the image. Keep up the great work.

  5. Rob:

    If I’m not mistaken, the photographer did not dress the golfer, the golfer dressed herself that day. And like he said, the photographer did not choose the photo for the paper, the editor did. And finally, the first thing I noticed was her head, it looks like it’s about to come off her neck. I don’t think my head ever did anything that crazy when I swing a club. Just my two cents.

  6. MoOgooGuypAN:

    When I saw the pics the first time, all I thought was…”that’s an ugly @$$ swing”. Haha

  7. Franklin Hu:

    Got to agree with the complainer. I’m sure they are many other photos of her you could have picked that portrays power without sacrificing the dignity of person. Maybe you have a point about the virtues of posting raw unfettered photos of people in the news, but to not acknowledge that maybe the complainer has a point lacks sensitivity that regular human being should have. I like to posted raw dramatic photos over the internet but would think twice about the person’s feeling before actually posting it, foregoing getting praise and giggles for what some may find embarrassing.

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