W. Eugene Smith: "I didn't write the rules, why should I follow them?"

Jan 3, 2013
W. Eugene Smith
W. Eugene Smith

In a recently-discovered interview, circa 1956, legendary photojournalist W. Eugene Smith talked about a then-controversial practice that today is taboo in photojournalism, and that is the act of staging photographs.

Smith defended the practice of staging pictures under certain circumstances, like when he felt that it was "an intensification of something that is absolutely authentic to the place." He told the interviewer, portraitist Philippe Halsmann, "I didn't write the rules, why should I follow them?"

Read Halsmann's interview with Smith in this installment of the LENS blog in The New York Times.

By comparison here's the modern era's standard on staging photographs, as defined by NPPA's Code Of Ethics.