Unpopular Opinion: FAKE NEWS!
You have probably seen the now infamous photos taken in Colorado of people in scrubs blocking the Anti-Lock down Protesters. This group of photos have recently become a hot topic of conversation as a video was later released from a bystander showing that these photos appear to have been staged. According to a recent buzz feed article I found the photographer who captured these photos (staged or not) was a Denver-based freelance photographer named Alyson McClaran.
*Note I have chosen not to share the images in this blog to protect against any copyright infringement. Please copy the link below to your browser to see some of these images.*
Buzzfeed interview link below:
Alyson like most of us is out of work due to the current stay at home orders which vary by state. According to her interview with Buzzfeed she was just at the right place at the right time during what is being called "Operation Gridlock". Although the individuals wearing scrubs have yet to be identified Alyson stands by her statement that these photos were not staged. She has been quoted as saying "No one's in agreement. It's kind of telling this entire story of what's happening right now in one image,"
Now, all of my friends know I love a good conspiracy theory, so I'm still on the fence to whether I believe these photos were captured naturally or if these were staged shots. However, I believe that Alyson is not in a position to announce to the public if this was in fact staged due to how fast these photos went viral. What I do know as a photographer is that capturing photos is always about telling a story. I never want to take a "meaningless" photo. I want to tell a story, spark emotion and feeling with every image I capture and share. Whether that be a story of a mother to be, the day a couple chooses to say "I do" or even something as simple as a food photo. How can a food photo spark emotion or tell a story you ask? Well, it can work in many different ways....
You see an image of a delicious looking plate of tacos! As you looks deeper you see the background of the welcoming seating environment the restaurant has and think this would be a great place for family dinner night, a girls night out, or perhaps to celebrate an anniversary. Or maybe you have celebrated at this restaurant before and this sparks a memory of a beautiful and fun time you shared there with loved ones. In the image you notice that slice of lime and the specs of cilantro and it can spark a memory of that fresh citrus smell. Maybe this photo includes the owner of the restaurant who has put their entire life into creating a business to serve others a delicious meal. Maybe the owner strives to maintain the family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation and you can find this relatable because you have those same family values. These a just a few examples of how one single image of tacos can spark so many questions, and thoughts. How does this apply to a staged news photo? Well......
I would be lying if I said i haven't "staged" photos. Basically my entire job is about staging to get the perfect shot but then again my photos aren't making national news! A few weeks ago I made my boyfriend model for me to take the photo below. This image was staged! Clearly his eyes are not the colors of the Earth. His tears in this image were also not real (we used visine to create the tear drops). But in my heart I just wanted to create the image to evoke the emotion and feeling that many of us across the WORLD are feeling. To remind people we may feel normal inside our bubble but this pandemic is affecting everyone in the world right now. My intention was never to be dishonest, or create "fake news"! My intention was to bring awareness. and embrace togetherness. To me this image says so much! Tears because we are all in this fight together. People are losing loved ones, we are being forced to give up the activities that we enjoy the most, we are wearing masks to protect ourselves and others, while at the same time the Earth is healing because we are creating less pollution. I wanted to make people feel something when they saw this image....As I'm sure was also the intention of Alyson while capturing her photos.
To be fair and show both sides to this story I have copied the link to a Youtube video below showing that this photography event appears to be staged.
In the video you will see a woman walking through the protest filming and she approaches the intersection where these now viral photos were being taken. She immediately starts yelling that "this is a staged event for the media". And although this was a "peaceful" protest I will say it seems to me that people were less than peaceful to Alyson and the people she was trying to capture. Alyson maintains that this was not a staged event, and just because one person said otherwise in the video above does not mean I am 100% on board to believe it. What do you think?
Photographers follow celebrities around every single day! Capturing every moment good and bad, and then sell those photos off to the tabloids. Often time with headlines like "Jennifer Aniston Pregnant." or "Selena Gomez drinking at a nightclub". Just as we can manipulate photos to improve images, media can manipulate these photos in a negative way showing the worst side of our favorite celebrities. This is the REAL fake news if you ask me! I'm sure the paparazzi face some push back for what they do....But that doesn't stop people from buying theses tabloids and watching TMZ for the latest gossip. Why target this one photographer so badly for trying to tell a visual story?
I wish I had a better ending to this post. I applaud Alyson for capturing these truly powerful photos. If this was staged......I still applaud her! Why? Because staged or not she still captured beautiful images. She still provoked a feeling in me when I viewed them. She still told a story with her images (staged or not). Thus her job as a photographer was executed perfectly in my opinion. If I could speak to Alyson today I would tell her "Dont give up! Don't let the opinions of others distract you from what you love the most. Don't let the bullies take away your creativity and drive to capture something meaningful."
All the best,