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Business Code of Ethics

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  • #16
    We don't do restoration work for conservators or museums - nor do we work on the originals. We have not yet done work for collectors, our work has all been for the public to restore family photos. In our narrow slice of life ethics is pretty simple;

    -explain honestly what we do, and what the current life exectancy is of the paper they choose.
    -show paper samples for each kind of output.
    -do reconstruction of the image to the extent that our customer wants us to, in a way that is appropriate to meet the customers goals.
    -only use images for any purpose with the customers specific permission.

    In my opinon, among the general public sepia is just a term for a brown colored photo. Beyond that it is up to us to educate the customer to whatever extent is appropriate for what their needs are (if we wanted we could give them a lot of info they don't care about - it is not their passion, they just want their photo repaired).

    I am beginning to think that I must have been sheltered in my little slice of life, or this discussion would not even be happening.

    What kind of bad stuff is going on that sparks this discussion?

    Is work done for conservators and museums? I would think they would just preserve the originals ... or duplicate them as they are to preserve the image.

    Work for collectors would not make a lot of sense, because the value would be in the original ...

    Work from museums or collectors / historical societies and etc. for reproduction would make sense - but that would mean making the copy match the original.

    I appreciate the seriousness of the discussion, I just don't quite understand the reality that this discussion reflects ...

    Roger

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    • #17
      Roger, Anytime an original photo is displayed there is deterioration of the image due to UV light, humidity, temperature. This is a well documented fact. In dealing with process original photos from the 1800's thru the 1950's many collectors and museums are beginning to display faithfully reproduced copys to protect the originals from unnecessary exposure.
      This brings up the spectre of overly ambitious restorations which, while done with good intent, may result in the actual photo contents being changed. There is one incident I have personal knowledge of, among many, when a well intentioned individual replaced the Name "John Deere" on the hood of a photo of an old tractor, with "Ford", because the original lettering was vey faded. As this photo was of the first John Deere tractor to arrive in the area, an historically importiant event, I think you can see why this discussion is firmly based on real world situations and ethics.
      When dealing with historical photos, the goal is indeed to match the original as closely as possible, even to the point of not repairing all the damage if in doing so you would change the photo contents in such a way as to render it inaccurate.
      The majority of my customers appreciate being given info about proper storage, display, type of photo process used to produce their original and ant info about deterioration which we can give them.
      As to value, there are, in my opinion at least two aspects to consider here. The first is the value of the original as a process artifact representing a particular photo process from a known time frame. The second is the value of the event/persons depicted. A copy relays the latter info quite well and as such has great value, especially as displaying it allows the photographic image to be shared/displayed without subjecting the original to damage thru display...
      The reality is a matter of purpose...is this photo intended to be an accurate and faithful copy of the original or is it intended to be "better,enhanced, have things added to it" and so on.
      Historic photos are usually treated differently from the latter, or should be at least....Tom

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      • #18
        Good answer Tom

        So you are saying that rather than have the museum that hires the copy/restoration artist policing what the standards are for the work, a mature industry has it's own standards that help raise the quality and awareness of the industry.

        It seems that the museum industry would be well versed in their requirements, but historical societies or small neighborhood museums / community historical exhibit might benifit from this kind of help.

        If a retouchiing/restoration association acts like others I have been involved in it should also be a source of continuing education and education for newcomers to the industry.

        Roger

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        • #19
          Roger, Exactly correct. As the technology of digital restoration continues to advance, the opportunities for mischief, either intentional or unintentional increases as well. Thus, it becomes necessary for the emerging Digital based retouching/restoration industry to either police itself or face the possibility of being regarded as not a boon but a bain ...........without a code of ethics and accepted standards this emerging industry will face increasing resistance and limited acceptance. Just my opinion though and not necessarly correct....Tom

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          • #20
            Tom your assessment is accurate but it goes much further - the ethics problem is already out of hand and the impact is not likely to be on the museums and the type of people who call on conservators - those are the knowledgable buyers. The real loss will be everyone that looks at any book, magazine or newpaper with a loss of faith in what we have all come to know and trust - real photos.

            I just posted a clip in Salon over the current flap on the Julia Roberts photo on the Redbook cover ...and in my files I have a copy of the TV Guide cover from Aug 1989 showing Oprah - only problem with that photo is that it was a composite using Ann Margarets body so Oprah would look thin. That was the start of the blatant early computer "enhancements" and it's continues to get worse every day.

            The vets organizations are having problems with thousands of "False Warriors" claiming benefits using fake photos of their days in the service - and the list goes on and on! This is not really a "museum" thing, I think they are safe enough thanks to AIC and other professional organizations - but it's swiftly heading into something that can and will put "restorers" as an occupation so far below used car dealers that you will be ashamed to admit being a part of the group!

            My personal opinion is that unless something is done soon to "separate" the ethical from the rest, it will be the end of what has been for well over a century a highly appreciated and respected occupation.

            Jim Conway

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            • #21
              To a degree ,the manipulation of photo content has been a problem since photography became mainstream, and, even when it was the provence of a few knowledgable souls, certain folks of dubious ethical orientation were not above "pulling a fast one" if there was economic incentive or publicity to be gained. An excellent example is the famous Civil War photo of the dead Confederate infantryman taken in the "Devil's Den" after the battle of Gettysburg.....it is acknowledged that the body and Musket were carefully posed for "effect"....
              The epidemic of manipulated images by so-called professionals, for no other reason than to gain economic advantage or personal recognition is, as you say, threatening to seriously damage the creditability of anyone who engages in Restoration/Conservation or photography in general.
              There is no way to totally halt abuses. Some folks simply do not care and will do as they please, ignoring the consequences of irresponsible action. Others will insist that there is nothing wrong with altering a photo to fit their conception of what it depicts.
              Its a serious problem. Consider that all the models who appear so vivacious and perfect in Ads are images of people so grossly retouched as to remove the resulting image from the realm of reality...and consider the resulting problems , especially as regards young women who feel that if they dont look like these "Frankenpictured" digital freaks there must be something wrong with them...and the resulting semi-starvation and so on these impressionable people put themselves through as well as the mental degradation, trying to look like something which never existed and never will, causes untold suffering.
              Professional orginizations are one way to help maintain and/or restore creditability, but in the end it is a matter of personal choice and a sense of responsibility which really matters...unfortunately today both seem in rather short supply. When I see major Newspaper and news service personnel, folks who are suppost to be Professional, using image manipulation to not just "enhance the dramatic content" but in doing so actually create a totally false impression, it leaves me with a rather sick and disgusted feeling....Tom

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              • #22
                There has been some very good input to this topic. I am learning a lot. I still haven't had time to come up with a privacy policy yet but it will happen.

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                • #23
                  OK, I am now focusing most of my attention to a complete overhaul of my Web site. All the "Honey Dos"and remodeling of the family room are complete. Now I have to get back to getting the business components finalized. I am going to incorporate a "Privacy Policy" page. I have obtained a fairly good but generic privacy policy and will be modifying it to suit my/our needs. Anybody have any specific suggestions? I will publish the policy here prior to the launch of the new site, for input from you guys. I plan on using a Paypal shopping cart system which should somewhat limit my risk of devulging customer information.

                  It will probably take me more than a couple of weeks to make all the revisions to the site so we have plenty of time. I thought that maybe together we could come up with a very good policy.

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