A Press Photographer Wrestles with the Ethics in Capturing Suffering on Film Without Intervening to Help

In her article in the June 1, Washington Post, Why I Watched a Snake-Handling Pastor Die for his Faith, photographer Lauren Pond wrestles with the ethics of press photographers who document life’s tragedies with pictures, all the while standing by and not taking action to intervene in the situation as it unfolds.

Pond contrasts her decision not to call paramedics to the scene as Pastor Randy “Mack” Wolford lay dying from the venom of the snake that had bitten him and the strychnine he had ingested as part of a religious ritual with the actions of Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, Kevin Carter, who was roundly criticized for photographing an emaciated Sudanese child who, under the watchful eye of a vulture standing nearby, struggling to reach a food center during a famine. Carter later committed suicide.

I highly commend Pond’s Article, in which she writes about her soul searching as she tries to come to grips with her decision.

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