Man’s Instagram Photo of NYC Shooting Victim Sparks Media Frenzy, Controversy

Just a few hours ago, a man opened fire at the Empire State Building in New York City, killing a former co-worker before being gunned down by police. Ryan Pitcheralle was passing through the area when the shooting occurred, and used Instagram to capture a photograph of the victim lying in a pool of blood.

The reaction to the photograph was immediate, and ranged from people thanking Pitcheralle for providing an unfiltered view into what was going on, to infuriated people accusing him of trying to profit off tragedy and demanding that he take down the image.

News organizations around the world pounced on the photograph as well, with a stream of comments and Tweets asking Pitcheralle for permission to use the photograph.

Here’s a screenshot of what the comments on Instagram looked like before most of these request comments were deleted:

A search on Twitter for “@ryanstryin” reveals plenty of similar requests:

Virtually everyone these days is carrying around a camera wherever they go, so this type of “unfiltered” look at news will undoubtedly become more and more common.

It will also most certainly cause endless debate over the fine line between citizen journalism and the senseless sharing of images showing tragedy. What are your thoughts?

(via Lense)

  • Wallerus

    I will take a step further and ask “what is the best platform for sharing this information, if someone just has to share it?”

  • Geoffrey Froment

    ” ho , there is a gunfight ! Lets take my iPhone, open Instagram, and choose wisely a filter, then share it with my ” friends ” ! ” level of stupidity : its over 9999 !

  • josejimenez

    the framing is all wrong.

  • C. Nicely

    Wasn’t it CNN who sacked many photo-journalist because they are using these images now. This is a very questionable type of journalism in my view, often one sided sensationalism. I saw the photo that was mentioned above on facebook. Other than shocking it had no message and the poster didn’t explain it either.

  • Sucha Shame

    If it helps illustrate how the NRA and their Republican puppets have allowed guns to be as easy to get as candy, then I’m all for it. How many more rampages do we have to go through before the gun industry is held responsible?

  • ennuipoet

    Weegee. That is all.

  • Miki Ballard

    I question the tastefulness of him choosing to deliberately photograph the body. Photographing the dead has always been a touchy subject and Ryan is probably guilty of the “too soon” effect. He also isn’t “recognized” as a journalist, so his credibility (or motivation) in taking the shot could also be fueling the controversy. If that same shot was posted by “CNN” or “NBC” instagram, then half of this story wouldn’t be a story.

  • John Milleker

    Love the news organizations drooling over the thought of using the image for ‘credit’ only. Put a dollar amount on it (even as low as a buck) and they’ll all scatter.

  • Chris Helton

    guess someone has to be a jerk and ask. Who would just give the image away? With 100 people wanting to publish it, why wouldn’t a photographer license the image for X amount?

  • Well donerepublicans

    Another victory for the NRA….

  • Gordy N Nott

    it’s not a photograph. It’s an instagram

  • David Rychart

    How can it be at the same time “one sided sensationalism” and have “no message?”

  • Well donerepublicans

    Another victory for the NRA

  • guns ahoy

    You asked us what our thoughts are, but are editing out comments left and right. Why is one not allowed to mention how many guns there are flooding the streets in the US?

  • Michael Zhang

    Because politically-charged comments aren’t relevant to what this story is about. There are plenty of other places online where you can debate politics and policies

  • Chris Helton

    lol smartass ok I’ll say again “With 100 people wanting to publish it, why wouldn’t a photographer license the IMAGE”.

  • Switzerland

    die “klassische” presse hat doch nur angst das sie bald überflüssig wird weil sich alles auf social net webseiten abspielt.
    dabei hat die presse seit jahren immer fleißig an der gewaltschraube gedreht… besondes in den USA.

  • Gordy N Nott

    much better

  • Bucket O Fish

    That’s easy for you to say…

  • guns ahoy

    Sorry – I figured with the number of Anti-American and Anti-US comments that have been allowed recently, that it was fair territory.

  • Ant

    There is no best platform. There is no difference between a citizen taking a pic and a paid professional taking a pic. Some may have better “photography” skills – but both have the same intent. Well almost, some want money.

  • Michael Zhang

    We’re deleting them as we see them. Feel free to flag them to bring them to our attention :)

  • Ant

    Because it is off topic. This is about photography – right time/place – method and media consumption

  • Keith Out

    I think Mod answered the question perfectly without need for outside involvement.

  • chadcrg

    The New York Times briefly ran a photo looking down from the top of the building on the same scene. That photo was more graphic than this one was.

  • JonJWilletts

    Is it an image created by ‘fixing’ light to a photosensitive material? Then it’s a photograph. Phos meaning light. Graph meaning to draw. So is it ‘drawn’ with light. Yes. So it’s a photograph. Stop trying to be pedantic.

  • Amelia Griffiths

    Nothing to say he didn’t just snap the photo directly with his phone’s camera, and then choose Instagram simply as the sharing platform *shrug*

  • Rob

    This had nothing to do with gun violence as
    @ryanstryin suggested in his post, and everything to do with a complete nutjob that just happened to have used a gun. Nobody blames knives when somebody has been stabbed to death. Why? Because it’s stupid to blame the tool that was used to kill someone, when the person using that tool should be the sole bearer of the blame (unless of course a gun was involved, and the left wingers have an orgasm for gun control).

  • Chris Helton

    like if you read that in a Christopher Walken voice :)

  • daniellezer0

    Well, at least he didn’t put a sepia filter and a vignette on it.

  • Guest

    Anyone know why the requests from News orgs. were deleted?

  • Chance Armstrong

    Foxnews is this way ——–>>>> have a great day

  • Greta Sensahumor

    Jon – it’s a bloody joke – lighten up

  • Hesay Watt

    One man’s gewaltschraube gedreht is another man’s webseiten abspielt.

  • Nathan Blaney

    I welcome more of this sort of thing as long as the photographer is appropriately compensated. As for the graphic subject matter, the only reason this is getting any notice at all is because it happened in the US. It is, in fact quite a tame photo. We see plenty of far worse imagery on a regular basis but its somehow only “ok” if its in some impoverished nation or warzone.

  • Rob

    Oh I guess you really got me there. When you wake up, come back and we’ll talk.

  • jeffy

    um, i think it had something to do with gun violence, considering someone was killed by gunfire?

  • Nasty robotrob

    Rob, you were already gotten by the cult you belong to – they were merely suggesting a place you would be welcome to leave nonsense comments on

  • Nasty robotrob

    Rob, you were already gotten by the cult you belong to – they were merely suggesting a place you would be welcome to leave nonsense comments on

  • Robby Noboddy

    Rob – your parroting of talk radio nonsense isn’t of interest here. if you have something to say about photography, please do. If you don’t, there are plenty of places on the internet that are designed for mouth-breathers with nothing original to say.

  • dlalla

    That’s “journalism” nowadays. The triumph of a picture over a story. There are many stories here: why does a civilized nation let people go around with guns knowing full well that 30%-60% of people will suffer some form of mental health illness in their life? Why are guns around period? How does the economic climate and unemployment affect mental health? Instead we just want to see a guy bleeding, people describing the chaos, and the usual claims that he was such a quiet guy and we never expented this to happen. You have to be a moron not to expect this thing to happen in America with so many guns and unstable stressed people out there.

    This was CNNs claim to fame when they first came to prominence- they had pictures of the night sky in Baghdad. That was the real birth of ‘look at this’ journalism. They cut to buildings on fire and car chases with NO IDEA of what the hell is going on, just because everyone likes to look.

  • rtfe

    welcome to earth.

  • MaxHeadroom

    The world media is happy to show daily starvation, butchery, genocide and bloodbaths from all over the world on their TV’s, internet and Newspapers.. but if their cops blast just one of their own citizens to death in the street for what ever reason and any image of it is shown they are up in arms saying it depicts gratuitous violence? What utter hypocrisy yet again from the land of the whatever

  • Niklas Hjelm

    Tough one. The way I see it this is nothing more than documenting a horrific moment without thinking of the consequences, a family member of the victim seeing the image for example. Photography and journalism is about much more than being at the right place at the right time. It’s about telling a story and a part of that is not showing all the gruesome details.

  • Chris Helton

    glad you said ‘earth’. dlalla keeps saying america, its not just america. gun control is actually pretty good, head to the middle east where an ak47 is propped next to most huts. I don’t get why everyone keeps saying guns are the problem, people are the problem and if someone is pissed and wants to hurt another person, they are going to do it. outlaw baseball bats, what about baning cleaning materials and law fertilizers because bombs can be made with them.
    People are the problem.. not tools. Get your head straight, thats fixes the problem.

  • dlalla

    I never heard of mass killings (batman theatre, Norway) by baseball bats? Really? And I said ‘civilized’ nations. If you want to compare yourself to virtually lawless nations, then that’s pretty sad. German police fired only 80 bullets in all of 2010. Period. You sometimes have more than that in one incident ! And I don’t know **anyone** in europe or other 1st world nations that would categorize US gun control as good.

  • Chris Helton

    typical, pick out the things you can argue and leave the rest of it without an answer. sound like a politician.
    its people that kill, and if they want to, they will find a way.

  • Chris Smeltone

    Chris, you’ve done nothing but parrot Republican talking points – suggesting that you have somehow provided a fresh perspective is rather funny

  • Chris Bellend

    Thank you Chris for yet again stepping up to the plate and being a jerk – you’re the best

  • Humanrightsnotgunrights

    This is citizen journalism. Not so long ago we were applauding people using this technology to report events during the Arab Spring.

    So what changed?

    Just because these images are about shootings in the streets of a US city shouldn’t give rise to hypocrisy.
    Can you imagine Lewis Hine not taking those pictures of working conditions? How about Weegee? Think he’d say-“no, my readers are too squeamish for this.” Or those shots done by Dorothea Lange? Nachtway would have taken that picture in a second.
    Photography is like that-images move us one way or the other. Sometimes important social changes are brought about by the images. If we were exposed to more of these images maybe there’d be more open discussion about gun control?
    Anyone carrying an image making device should be recording scenes such as these AND sending them to news agencies around the world.