A photograph of a six-year-old boy pointing a gun at the camera has sparked an argument between the photographer’s agency Reuters and the family of the child.
The photo was taken at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention on April 15 and has been called a “set-up” by the boy’s family who say they did not give consent.
However, Reuters has hit back saying that their photographer Evelyn Hockstein “clearly introduced herself to adults as a photojournalist.”
Dan Eckart tells Fox News Digital that the photo of his grandchild aiming the firearm directly at the camera and the subsequent media coverage has been exploitative.
“What I noticed was the photographer moving around so that whichever direction [his grandson] was, she tried to get in front of him,” Eckart says.
The family is unhappy at how the photo has been used in articles about children dying of gunfire with even the Daily Mail portraying the photos negatively.
The boy’s father, Nathan Eckhart, accuses the photographer of setting “the photo up so that it looked like [his son] took the gun and was aiming it at her face.”
At NRAAM, parents/grandparents say that she staged photos featuring their children. She instructed the kids to pick up guns & positioned herself in front of them to capture the images she wanted.… pic.twitter.com/HHqQwKgaiY
— NRA (@NRA) April 21, 2023
However, Reuters has rejected any accusation of wrongdoing adding that “it is untrue that she asked a child to look at her.”
“We stand by our photographs, which are in the public interest and meet our standards under the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles,” a spokesperson tells Fox News.
“Our photographer was at all times wearing a press badge and clearly introduced herself to adults as a photojournalist working for Reuters before taking any pictures of children,” the spokesperson continues.
“She took these pictures in a section of the convention designated for media, where signs informed attendees that they might be photographed by the press, and also obtained the consent of all photographed from parents or guardians, not children.”
The NRA Director of Media Relations Amy Hunter got involved in the dispute when she said that there wasn’t a “designated media section” or “signs that say attendees might get pictured by the press.”
Reaction to the Photos
The shocking image of a child pointing a handgun at a camera is made more pertinent because of America’s problem with mass shootings — particularly in schools. Already this year, there have been at least 160 mass shootings in the U.S.
Gun violence is now the leading cause of death of children in America. pic.twitter.com/wlhwz4m9aj
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 16, 2023
A headline from Insider ran: “Photos show kids as young as 6 handling guns at the NRA’s annual meeting. Guns are the leading cause of death among US children.”
Insider’s article contains Reuters’ photos from the NRA event, but it now contains a note that three photos were removed from the original piece following a parent’s request.
Fox News spoke to the parent in question who claims that the photographer did not ask permission before taking photos of her kids. But they added that the photographer explained who she was after she had taken the photos and asked for the children’s names.
But the mom became upset after she saw the photos online with comments underneath them characterizing the NRA event as teaching children “to be gun-toting murderers” or “grooming future murderers.”
A Cautionary Tale
The episode serves as a warning to photographers, particularly press photographers when it comes to working with children.
In general, accredited press photographers have no issues photographing kids at events so long as they’ve gotten permission from a parent or guardian.
In this case, the issue has arisen after the fact. Firearms are an extremely hot topic in the U.S. with people split along partisan lines and a powerful photo like Hockstein’s can easily ruffle feathers.
Image credits: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters