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Online Editor's Blog: October 11, 2006

Greetings all. I'm Alysha Sideman, the new editor of (former associate editor of Studio Photography magazine circa. 1999-2000). This is the debut of a weekly blog on photography. Long before I became a professional writer, I was fascinated by photography. My father bought my first camera at a yard sale in the 1970s. It was a clunky mint green thing with a detachable flash that looked more a satellite dish. More than 20 years later and lighter (minus my cumbersome camera models year's past) I have the opportunity to combine my two loves: photography and writing. Weekly, I'll write my thoughts on photo-related news and discuss any controversial photo topics of the day. It would be great to hear your thoughts on any of the blogs.

Photos for the Greater Evil

Most of us believe photography should be used for the greater good. Ideally, we hope our images expose viewers to the world's injustices, creating awareness of poverty, natural disasters, disease, famine, the toll of war, etc.

In a way, a photographer's lens serves as the eyes of humanity: keeping tabs on remote areas of the world or even a corner of our neighborhood that we can't see.

Photos also document the beauty of our world: the details of real life. The creases of a woman's face. The intersection where volcanic fire streams into the ocean. A white wedding on a clear June morning. Images can fill us with inspiration and calm.

Photography is power.

Then, there is the flipside. A lens used for evil.

According to recent Boston Globe article, a Clinton , Conn. couple was charged with child pornography involving a girl who wanted to be a model. The husband, Robert Gamble, 59, was a professional photographer who began taking pictures of the girl when she was 13, telling her that photo sessions would help her modeling career. She was rewarded with new clothing and increased privileges, which were taken away if she refused to participate.

Eventually, the girl was photographed fully nude. When she turned 16, the contact between the two became more intimate, the article said.

This is not the first time, of course, that a camera has been used like a loaded gun—poised inflict pain.

Another incident occurred on Sept. 20. A 22-year-old photographer was arrested after allegedly exposing himself to several female students at a Calif. high school during a senior picture session. While the district had its own photo studio, a rare amenity in schools, he was employed with an outside studio contracted by the district. The incident even prompted school officials to mandate all future student and classroom photos be taken in-house.

Hiding the behind the lens of a camera is no excuse for criminal activity and it hurts the credibility of all photo professionals. What safeguards, if any, can the industry do to protect children from this type of behavior? Should those who deal with children in their businesses be required to apply for a special permit? Go through a background check?

What can our industry do to protect the naive who are lured by the promise of fame and fortune?

It's a tough one. Such measures may seem hefty, but at least should be examined by us. True, photography is powerful. But that power can be easily misused in the wrong hands. –a.s.

Next week: When is a close-up too close?

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