Digital photography by definition relies on being processed with photo editing software such as the popular Adobe Photoshop. As many photographers know editing can encompass traditional post-processing (curves, levels, contrast, saturation, sharpening, spotting, etc.) to provide an accurate representation of the subject or scene and can extend into more elaborate digital manipulation (removal/addition of objects, color changes, etc.). As a result of the boom in digital photography and the availability of applications like Photoshop one of the most common philisophical and ethical discussions with in the photographic community is about the appropriate use and extent of photo manipulaiton.
With in the nature and landscape world there are those that feel digital manipulation is part of the art form and on the other end of the spectrum there are purists who feel minimal editing should take place to accurately represent nature. No where is the purist philosophy of minimal to no editing stronger than in the world of photojournalism. The essence of photojournalism is centered around the pillar of accurately representing or documenting a photographed scene as it happened or as the editor of the Toledo Blade stated “an accurate representation of the truth”.
A basic rule: Newspaper photos must tell the truth – Toledo Blade
Over the past year or two a growing number of photographers have been snared bending or breaking the ethics of photojournalism. Only last year freelance Reuters photographer, Adnan Hajj (with photos), was outted and dismissed for his digitally altered images of Beirut. This month a former Pulitzer Prize nominated photographer, Allan Detrich, has been caught publishing digitally manipulating photos(PDF) for the Toledo Blade.
His edits by most standards would seem minor. The removal of distracting elements; someones legs behind a sign, the removal of a wire passing through his image or the addition of a basketball. Sadly truly accurate representation, flaws included, are essential in photojournalism. As a photographer that makes minor edits to my photos from time to time it’s amazing to think that such a small edit can have such detrimental impact to ones career.
The result of these edits by Allan Detrich has resulted in painful consequences including suspension of publication of his photos by the Toledo Blade, Reuters and AP, and his ultimate resignation.
‘Blade’ Probe Turns Up More Questionable Photos by Detrich – Editor & Publishing (4/12/07)
Update: Toledo ‘Blade’ Photog Suspended During Probe – Editor & Publisher (4/7/07)
This just goes to show how important it is for photographers to keep track of ethical standards for their genre of choice.
Where do you fall philosophically in regard to photo editing for your photographic genre of choice?
— added after originally posting —
Allan Detrich in his own words, Forgive Me, I Am Human
See what other photographers are saying on the subject:
One oops, two oops, three oops, fourâ€¦ – Gary Crabbe
— end addition —
The latest update regarding Allan Detrich “The Curious Case of Allen Detrich“(sic) apparently he’s been passing his time stormchasing. The result… CNN interviews and more published photographs. Perhaps a quicker rebound is in store for him.
[tags]Reutersgate, photojournalism, photography, ethics, Photoshop, digital, manipulation, editing, Toledo Blade, photojournalist, Adobe, photo editing[/tags]