In common language we say that people "take" photographs. This suggests that there is little creativity involved. The photographer is simply taking what is there. It would be more accurate (though more awkward) to say that we "make" photographs. This would account for the fact that really we are creating a visual scene with the choices we make in framing or cropping the photograph.
This is important to consider for ethical reasons. The way we "make" the photograph needs to be true to what actually happened. Photographs and video can make things appear very different than the truth. Some would argue that the "truth" will vary from person to person and objective truth may not be obtainable. But it is important to strive toward objectivity. While there may be no objective truth out there, you want to be diligent to not consciously violate what you know to be true.
Some of it depends on how you frame the shot. We've talked about how close up shots are always more interesting to the viewer. But keep in mind - especially with photojournalism - that tight frames can remove part of the story. Think of a photo in a newspaper of a protest on campus surrounding the food in the dining halls. If you frame a nice tight shot of four people screaming and holding signs, it might send the message that lots of students are riled up about the issue. But if you show a slightly wider shot, you might see that these students are the only four students protesting and that all around them are students happily eating in the dining halls who seem to be oblivious to this issue.
This is also an issue with cropping. The way you crop a photo will determine how it is perceived. The viewer often needs the surrounding contextual cues to get the correct idea of the situation.
Take a look at this photo. Describe the situation here. Perhaps it looks as if this couple is annoyed with the child, of discussing her behavior. Maybe she is ignoring what they are telling her to do.
Now look at the same photo cropped on the other side. A very different situation emerges.
A look at the entire photograph without cropping might tell both stories. Only another photograph of the ball field and the dismal performance of the home team would clarify the disappointed faces of the couple to the left.
Another ethical concern comes in the way we juxtapose images in lay-out and video editing. This can create a reality far different from what actually took place. For example, here is a photo of a little girl in the snow. You might see this photo and think that she is cold (which is actually the case).
But put this photo next to this one and a very different impression emerges.
These photos were taken at different times. The man is not throwing the snowball at her. But if I lay out the photos like this then that is the impression it gives.
When you take photos, you are creating an impression, dictating the reality for those who were not there. It is important to make sure that the reality you portray is fair and accurate
See the Visual Literacy Chapter for more discussion on visual bias and ethics.