Hippocratic Oath of a Photographer

The photo school term has begun and all the new students are now roaming New York with their cameras. These are the halcyon days of image discovery.  But it is here that we would all do well to remember The Hippocratic Oath of a Photographer as written by M.F. Agha for U.S. Camera way back in 1937 [from the vertical files in the ICP library].

Not only is this an absolutely brilliant poem/rant, it is also an indispensable piece of advice for any camera happy person who is seeking to avoid the dreaded photographic cliché.  These are the words to remember before you shove that expensive camera of yours into the unsuspecting face of a homeless person or a tearful child.

Art Director M.F. Agha could merely have been having a bad day but then again if anybody would be familiar with the nauseating dangers of image cliché then it would be him (impressive career here: http://www.adcglobal.org/archive/hof/1972/?id=293 ).

The most important thing for all of us to remember is . . .Think before you shoot!  At least try to avoid the cliché especially in these days of total image saturation, and even though that may be impossible, at least be aware of it.

Martin Parr talks about Photographic cliché here  http://www.martinparr.com/blog/?p=282

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27 thoughts on “Hippocratic Oath of a Photographer”

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  2. One wonders what list Dr. Agha would compile after a few evenings of flickr – let’s not even consider extended exposure to such a behemoth. One can only wonder. I had seen this several years ago & could never find it when I needed it: many thanks.

  3. I am a photog professor and love this both as list and as image. Can I have a high resolution copy so that I may print it for my department notice board?
    Please contact me by e-mail.

  4. I have indeed taken a photograph of an old barn in Connecticut, but I will refrain from posting the Flickr link here.

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