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”
[…] October 7, 2011 by matthewpcarson […]
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I’ve been studying buildings for over 20 years. It is safe to say that this building is the most marvelous one on the planet. Visit it once and you will agree with me!
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.
Clearly you did not understand the ironic conclusion to this piece. It says, don’t become a photo snob.
[…] 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 re… Source: icplibrary.wordpress.com […]
[…] are the halcyon days of image discovery. But it is here that we would all do well to re…Show original Cancel […]
[…] out and take them, but I really love this rant by M.F. Agha published in 1937 in US Camera, the Hippocratic Oath of a Photographer, republished on the Monsters and Madonnas blog of the International Center of Photography […]
search.insing.com/business/soubix-pte-ltd/eunos-ubi/id-ea880200 Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time 🙂
It’s funny to think that photographic clichés may have been around as long as there have been photographers!
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.
Hi, I think we can. Let me confer with my colleague who scanned. THANKS for looking! Direct your students to our whole blog, OK?
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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[…] Flickr, magazine art director M.F. Agha’s 1937 rant against photography clichés, from the International Center of Photography’s library collection, rings even truer in in the image-saturated present. An accomplished photographer himself, Agha […]
[…] Oath of a Photographer as written by M.F. Agha for U.S. Camera way back in 1937. Courtesy ICP. […]
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[…] by Andy Adams of Flak Photo, via Heather Morton who commented on the post, via Matthew Carson who blogged it for International Center of Photography in 2011, via… M.F. Agha, the famous Vogue art director who wrote this little gem in […]