Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Much Photo Manipulation Makes it Fraud?

A PHOTOJOURNALIST WHO won third prize in the sports feature category of the prestigious World Press Photo competition was disqualified after it was discovered that one of his images was digitally manipulated.

The original image is above. The image that was deemed manipulated (part of the winning series) is at right. It is a severe crop of the original, changed to black and white, burned generously, with a tiny little bit PhotoShopped out of the image (click here to see where a foot was removed).

Should the entry have been disqualified? Is it acceptable to crop so much in photojournalism? Is it acceptable to change the image from color to black and white? Is the removal of such a small thing really an ethical issue?

9 comments:

Dan P. said...

Unless the rules explicitly prohibit any kind of "digital manipulation", I don't think the photo should've been disqualified. The change to black and white seems particularly harmless, especially when all it takes nowadays is to push a button on a digital camera to switch from color to B&W. Why would it have been better to take it in B&W to begin with instead of changing it later? It's not like those magazine covers where seemingly half of a woman's waist is airbrushed away. In my opinion, this is similar to someone writing a few drafts of a story before turning in the finished product.

melanieroxannegampon said...

Digital Cameras can crop and change pictures to B and W, sepia, and other colors. The photo was just a crop not digitally altered at all (ie. altering it so that blood will gush out. It is not a bogus photo at all and therefore should not have been disqualified. It's a zoom up truth.

Berryman, A said...

I do not feel as if the man should have been disqualified. He simply just cropped the picture and made it a bit more graphic. Unless he broke any particular rule in the competition it was unesscessary to disqualify him, especially if he did not know.

Julian Galette said...

I don't know anything about the aesthetics of photography so I'm having a hard time deciding how I feel about this one.

On the one hand, the logical part of me thinks "Wow, this is unfair, this guy got robbed" but on the other hand (trying to look at it from a photographers point of view) I wonder if the image in question would have even won in the first place if the foot hadn't been cropped out.

Would that foot have relegated this photo to second place? Top five? Would it even have been considered one of the stand out photos of the competition?

I don't really know, but if the judges would have still given the guy the award without the crop, he shouldn't have been stripped of it.

On a related note, the issue of photo editing (and its related ethics) cropped up in the latest issue of Amazing Spider-man. Here are two pages which relate to the reveal consequences of this act by Peter Parker:

*Spoiler Warning for any comic fans that haven't picked up the issue*

http://img367.imageshack.us/img367/9176/tasm624021.jpg

http://img367.imageshack.us/img367/6093/tasm624022.jpg

A little different than the issue at hand, but the ethical issue it relates is important: When is it okay to edit a photograph? Are aesthetic reasons enough? Are good intentions?

Anonymous said...

This has been on my mind for some time..... and I agree with you to some degree.
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Francisco Ovalle said...

i don't really know about this subject, but from what i can see, he deserves what he got, why alter the image? show reality!!!

Theodore Wohlsen said...

Perhaps it is important to note the importance of the action being captured by the photo. The picture crops out everything but the subject matter. The only important piece of information in this photo is the delicate wrapping of the hand. This justifies cropping out all the other confusing information in the photo. As for photoshopping the picture, the alterations do not distract the spectator from the the action of wrapping the hand and instead only embrace elements of design that make the image stronger. The same goes with photoshopping out the foot for it is only a distracting piece of information. However, the photographer in question is horrible at framing a picture for all he needed to do was take a couple of steps closer and maybe zoom in a little to get the exact same shot. Because of this laziness or rookie behavior he does not deserve a reward.

Gillian Francella said...

I think it should have been disqualified. I mean the picture goes from what appears to be preparing for a flag football-ish type game to a depressing hand injury, the picture's edits change picture's connotation.

uhleesha said...

It photography it's about capturing the essence of what is happening in the picture. The world is not black and white so obviously that is an adjustment that is well known to everyone. Cropping and adjusting the light is all part of the editing process to make a picture perfect and allow it to carry the message you are trying to send. He could not have gotten disqualified for this picture. Although I do agree that if someone completely alters the picture to the point where its not portraying the original anymore, is unfair and not right.