If you haven’t paid attention to the controversy surrounding freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi’s photo of a man who was moments away from death after being pushed in front of a subway train, you should look it up on Google. Abbasi is taking a lot of flak for shooting the photo which was published in the New York Post. There are a number of things about the event that stink.
First and foremost is the fact that Abbasi was put into a position of witnessing and as a result, photographing the nightmarish scene. The gentleman who died, Ki Suk Han, 58, was allegedly pushed in front of the subway after getting into a dispute with a gentleman moments earlier.
Abbasi is getting a lot of public heat for taking the photo. Many claim he should have tried to save the man instead of photographing his death. Abbasi claims he was running toward the scene popping his flash trying to get the train driver’s attention. There is some doubt that this was the case. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.
But I am somewhat suspicious. Abbasi has been granting interviews, having his photo taken and appeared on “The Today Show.” Seems to me like he’s trying to make a name for himself with all these appearances. I would completely remove myself from the public eye out of guilt and doubt that I did the right thing. Add all the name-calling and scrutiny, I might never appear in public again. I would definitely go into hiding for a time.
I’d like to think that if I was in that situation when I was a photojournalist, I would have tried to save the gentleman versus taking a photo of his death. I was always pretty conservative when it came to scenes of death and photographing a corpse. I can’t say, in all honesty, that I never photographed a dead body. But towards the end of my career, I know I didn’t. I know now, I would not hesitate to sacrifice a photo to save a life. No photo is worth that.
But my grievance isn’t really with the photographer. He didn’t kill Han. My gripe is really with the New York Post and their callous decision to run the photo, especially on page 1. This is nothing more than sensationalistic, irresponsible journalism. What purpose does it serve to run the photo with the headline, “Pushed on a Subway Track, this man is about to die-DOOMED.” The purpose? Selling newspapers. Is running the photo going to act as a deterrent? Will it prevent someone else from getting pushed in front of a subway train? The purpose of this photo is to sell newspapers and make money. That’s it.
Until Next Time,