NY subject of prizewinning photo questions ethics

AP News
Posted: Feb 23, 2013 12:46 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A man depicted in a prizewinning photography series about violence in the upstate New York city of Rochester says the essay misrepresented who he was, where he was and what he was doing at the time his picture was taken.

The dispute involves a portrait taken by Italian photographer Paolo Pellegrin, who shot it on assignment with the Magnum Photo agency last year as part of an in-depth look at a high-crime Rochester area known as the Crescent.

The black-and-white photo shows a tattooed man in a patriotic T-shirt carrying a rifle with an ammunition belt slung over his shoulder.

He appears to be standing sentry in deep shadows in front of a cinder-block wall.

The caption identifies him as "a former U.S. Marine Corps sniper with his weapon."

But the man in the picture, Shane Keller, tells the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper of Rochester that it was actually taken in his basement in Brighton, a relatively well-to-do suburb with low crime that is nowhere near the poor neighborhoods that were the subject of the photo essay.

Keller, who now lives in Pennsylvania, is an ex-Marine who served in Iraq, but he was a combat photographer there, and not a sniper.

And at the time the photo was taken, he was a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, who was working as an assistant to the Magnum photographers.

"I don't have anything to do with any of those issues, drugs or gun violence," Keller told the newspaper.

In a response posted on the website of the National Press Photographer Association, Pellegrin said Keller "may have misspoken" about having been a sniper, or else he "may have misunderstood."

As for the erroneous captions indicating that the picture had been taken in the Crescent, Pellegrin said he believed the name was "a conceptual designation as much as a geographical one."

"Shane thinks he and his guns have nothing to do with violence in the Crescent. I disagree," Pellegrin wrote.

The Magnum photo series on Rochester has taken second-place awards in several international photo contests, including the 2012 World Press Photo contest announced Feb. 15.


Information from: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, http://www.democratandchronicle.com