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This week, the New York Post created a controversy when they published a photo of a man who had been pushed off the platform and on to the tracks in the path of an on coming train. The photo was taken just seconds before impact and showed the victim with the train bearing down on him. 

If you have not read or heard of the this incident, I have included a link to the Post below. The front page photo appears there with the headline "Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die  DOOMED".

Should the photographer taken the picture, or tried to help the victim? Should the Post have published it?Was the headline appropriate?  Does this photo sully the photojournalism profession? Does the publisher and the editor sully the name of the press? Do we as a people care anymore.. or have we completely given up on the media ever being ethical or responsible? Just some of the questions that we can discuss.. add your own.. express your opinion. This is a site for photographers..

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20 seconds to 3 minutes is a huge difference when a life hangs in the balance.. and shows the confusion and the chaos involved at the scene. I feel like the story is news and should be given the time of day. Everything I have seen indicates he is a photojournalist and I have seen no indication that he used a cell phone to take this photo. 

Papa, This is one of the topics which is likely to start a heated discussions among those who are especially interested in documentary photography. There are many dimensions to this issue. 

Let me start in a lighter vein. Documentary photographers are often looked at as some one oblivious to human tragedy and interested in their own 'breaking news' like

Probably most of us are aware of famous story

A vulture watches a starving child [1993]

The prize-winning image: A vulture watches a starving child in southern Sudan, shot by Kevin Carter March 1, 1993.

Carter’s winning photo shows a heart-breaking scene of a starving child collapsed on the ground, struggling to get to a food center during a famine in the Sudan in 1993. In the background, a vulture stalks the emaciated child.

Haunted by the horrific images from Sudan, Carter committed suicide in 1994 soon after receiving the award.

As far as this picture is concerned, Jared has already pointed out that there was enough time to save the person. It was extremely callous on the part of all of us present to the occasion to shy away from coming forward to help him. And as far as the newspaper is concerned, I do feel the headlines were unnecessarily sensational. The words selected to describe the tragedy could have been more sober.

Such arguments were exchanged between us in 'street photography' in my group 'art of photography' camera clicker shared a story of this picture

Another famous photo is Nick Ut's napalm girl:     You can read about it here:

Basically, once the photo was taken, the photographers at the scene helped out.  Nick Ut has stayed in touch with the girl in the photo, who survived, has a husband and child, and is doing well.

So the first aim should be to help suffering humanity if possible. 

Thanks for the input, Aamir. I just thought it would be something that we should bring up here.. a good place to discuss this kind of thing. We probably will not come to answer the great problems of life, but the perspective of others can be a good thing.

I honestly harbor no bad feelings toward the photographer. He did not cause this. And, while I would like to think that my reaction would be to help, we were not there, we do not know the amount of time involved or the chaos of that moment. He did what good photojournalists do.. they take pictures. Why does he get the blame and not the many others who were on that platform that day? My problem is with how the newspaper chose to sensationalize the event. The reduction of his life down to the two seconds before his death. 

Thanks, Paul. I think you and I are of the same mind on this. 

There have been many reactions to this news item.  The photographer was interviewed and pointed out a number of things:

* Trains come into the station very fast.  In the cities I am familiar with, subway trains typically blast into the station still travelling at full speed, they apply the breaks once in the station and it takes most of the platform for the train to stop.  Hong Kong has put up glass walls between the trains and people.  Toronto has not, due to the cost.

* The subway platform is most of a city block long and the event occurred in the photographer's peripheral vision, at the far end of the platform from where he was standing. 

* The photographer started running toward the train and the man on the tracks, holding his camera out in front of himself and firing the flash repeatedly by releasing the shutter.  The flash recycled quickly because it had been used for fill flash outdoors and was on a very low power setting.

* The photographer was still 200 to 300 feet from the man when the photo shown was taken. 

* There were many people closer to the man on the tracks and none of them made any move to help him.

* The man who pushed him walked away and passed the photographer who stopped and put himself against the wall away from the tracks in case the man tried to push him onto the tracks as well.  Once the man had passed, the photographer continued toward the man on the tracks.

* Most of the images are not clear because the photographer was running and flash power was low.  The camera was set for shooting outdoors and the images were black before they were recovered by post processing.

* He stated he was using a dSLR.  And, he was returning from another assignment at the time.

You can see the video here:

I don't know what lens was used, but I do know that a long lens can make a significant distance look small and a very wide lens can make the same distance look large.  How the image was cropped is also unknown.  Subway trains come into our stations at over 30 miles an hour.  In the time it takes for the train to cover the first third of the station, the world's fastest sprinter starting at the other end of the platform would not be anywhere near the middle of the station, never mind covering two thirds of it with time to stop and pull someone off the track.

I imagine New York trains are similar to ours.  I haven't tried it, but I suspect lying down between the rails would allow the subway to pass right over you with space to spare.   Axles are in the middle of the wheel, wheels are large and the wheels sit on top of the rails, about six inches above the ties. Perhaps panic played a part in the tragedy.

Frequently it is the publication of disturbing photos that change the world.  It is the newspaper's job to publish news.  Someone was able to get a usable image off the photographer's card.  The event happened, I don't see how hiding the image away would be beneficial or how displaying it is in bad taste.  To those who feel it is in bad taste I ask how it compares to the news footage of Kennedy's assassination or the attempt on Regan.

As a photographer if you are more worried about the shot then you need to take a really look into your soul.  The shot being more important means you have lost your compassion for humanity.  I thought I read that the photographer that took the subway picture, said that he wasn't trying to take the picture, but that he basically had his finger on the shutter release in a pray and spray fashion. 

The time between the fall and the train would be a huge deciding factor for anyone trying to say that man that was pushed.  As far as trying to save the man in the picture in the article, I don't think from that distance the photographer could have done anything with the train baring down.  It would have ended up costing the lives of two instead of one.  

It's a tough situation to be in and if you are not expecting the situation it becomes very hard to comprehend what is actually going on and react to the situation. 

Seems to me, every time someone risks their life rescuing someone else, the police message is that what the person did was heroic but people should not put themselves at risk.  Perhaps that message is sinking in, in New York.  The photojournalist did not put himself in harm's way and he was too far away, anyway.  He did do the only thing he could think of at a moment's notice.  He aimed his flash at the train and fired it repeatedly.  It would be interesting to hear from the driver of the train, I am not aware of any interview being reported.  I would like to know if the flash strategy had any effect.


The tragic events at Newtown highlight the folly of easy access to guns.  The news services, including photojournalists, have a job - for many it is a calling - to bring news to the public.  Certainly the news industry should be diligent and report facts accurately.  The news is frequently broken up by commercials.  Tonight immediately after the update on Newtown, the commercial reported in Africa a child dies every 3 seconds due to malaria, and that for $10 per child those deaths could be avoided.  That does not detract from the grief those in Newtown are feeling, but it does add another perspective.


The Second Amendment:

A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.


I think a reasonable person would conclude the Police, National Guard, Coast Guard, and regular army are all well regulated Militia, but that a bunch of citizens even if they are members of a gun club or the NRA, are not.  A case could be made that ranchers and explorers may need some sort of weapon to protect livestock or themselves against wild animals.  Beyond that, there is not much need for guns in the modern United States.  This would be a good time to require everyone to hand in their guns within the next 30 days, then only allow those with an obvious need to own a gun. 


I have started to respond to the non-sense of that last paragraph a dozen times and it results in my blood pressure rising and me speaking in a fluid stream of obscenities. I will just say that I will be happy to give up my guns when you can assure me that criminals have given up theirs. Law abiding citizens with guns have never been an issue in this country. You are safer at a gun show or NRA convention then you are any school in the US.  

Papa, I don't live in the US so I am a somewhat disinterested party.  We do receive news from the US and if the reports are correct, and I have no reason to dispute them, the guns used at Newtown were legally purchased and owned by a "law abiding citizen", who is now dead.  While you may be safe at a gun show or NRA convention, events of the past year show you are not safe at the movies or at a grade school.  We have all heard "Guns don't kill people, people kill people.", which at some level may be true but people with guns can kill people more efficiently than most people can without guns.  The other two news stories from the US that come to mind are Trevon Martin in Florida and the son of a retired police officer who went out to the garage for something and was shot as an intruder when he returned through the back door of the house!   Why a trained police officer would discharge a weapon without identifying his target still baffles me. 

Having a gun may give you a false sense of security.  Presidents and celebrities have been shot and even killed while surrounded by armed body guards.  Statistics indicate that as the number of guns increases, your safety decreases.

I am on my way to work, so I do not have time to address this.. but will later. Please look at the Trevon Martin case.. your facts are entirely incorrect. 

My facts may be incorrect.  They are taken from news and Internet accounts.  With the disclaimer that hearings and trials are scheduled for spring and summer next year so nothing has been "proven" in court, here are the relevant "facts" from the news:

Trevon (or Trayvon) Martin was a 17-year-old staying at his father's house in a gated community in Florida.  The night of February 26, he went to the store.  He was walking back to his father's home when George Zimmerman spotted him.

A police report stated there was no indication that Trevon was involved in any criminal activity.

George was in an automobile, had a cell phone and was armed.  George started following Trevon.  George called the police and left his vehicle.  The police told George not to follow Trevon, they would send someone.

A short time later, there was a confrontation between Trevon and George, during which Trevon was shot in the chest at close range and killed.

George was not charged until public outcry reached a level that could not be ignored.

Some questions come to mind:

Does Florida really have a law that permits person A to harass person B until there is a confrontation, then on killing person B, person A can claim they were standing their ground and avoid all consequences?

What would have happened if George had followed the police officer's direction and not followed Trevon?

What would have happened if Trevon also had a gun?

What would have happened if George did not have a gun?

And, finally, which facts are entirely incorrect?

Sorry, Clicker- you've got your statistics confused, but not being an American, I can understand your confusion. Statistics have proven in America that states and communities (ex: Florida)  with armed citizens are more safe than states and communities with restrictive gun laws (ex: Illinois/Chicago/Detroit). Not knowing what country you're from, I can't tell you to check stats from your own country, but you can compare crime rates v gun ownership in countries such as England and African nations and prove your statement false.

As to the expression 'guns don't kill...'  is also historical fact. Not one firearm since the dawn of firearms has ever shot anything, let alone a human. If you want to blame the tool, then forks make people fat and erasers create mistakes.

Following your logic on the original topic, the photographer did nothing- the camera shot itself and took the picture; therefore, the photographer does not deserve any credit, good or bad.

Rant over now- this is a photo site, not a political site and I didn't want to get involved, but as a proud American gun owner and self defense advocate, I had to say something. As Razzi says, 'When you can prove there isn't one criminal with a gun or weapon to attack me with, then I might surrender my guns.' That ain't gonna happen ever. That criminals don't obey laws is also a proven fact.

In ending: Guns do not give me a 'false sense of security'. Quite the opposite: government gives me a false sense of security. As a gun owner, I do not need to worry about having to call a cop to rescue me when trouble comes to my door at 0300, then wait thirty miinutes for them to arrive and save me.



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