A situation evolved before me yesterday, one with a humanistic, moralistic and Sociological perspective. Whilst I was waiting for a bus a naked guy parades up and down the street. He was speaking non aggressively in a language which I didn’t recognise. On the whole people were ignoring him, other than an occasional person who tried encouraging him to cover up.
At this point I decided not to take a photo, because I didn’t want to write or publish an article which would have been embarrassing for him. I suspected that his mental health was influencing his behaviour.
The police arrived, and the aforementioned naked guy assaulted the police officer. The officers colleague shouted “tazer” and as the guy went to assault her she fired the tazer.
When the guy was face down on the floor I took a photo, reasoning that he couldn’t be identified, and the discharging of a tazer is of current Sociological importance and is “newsworthy”
However, I’m not a photo journalist, its not my style of photography. There is a significant debate upon the arming of police with tazers, which is worth exploring. But I still decided to delete the photo rather than publish it.
Seeing a police officer assaulted, and an unarmed man tazered is frightening, and would have been more upsetting for the man and the police. I believe the guy was having some form of mental breakdown, and ultimately it’s why I didn’t publish the photo.
I’m in favour of the police having tazers. There have been several vicious assaults on the police recently and they need to be able to apprehend an assailant, for their own, and the publics protection. Arguably, if yesterday’s event had have played out in other countries the guy could have been shot dead, so I’m in favour of more tazers over more guns.
There is a need for photo journalism and documentary photography, and yesterday I was faced with a choice. We all do as photographers, we all have our preferred genre and field of expertise. Most of the time there is no right and wrong in photography, and yesterday was a personal choice that suited my weighing up of external and internal drivers.