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]
“Only last year freelance AP photographer, Adnan Hajj (with photos), was outted and dismissed for his digitally altered images of Beirut.”
Dude…he worked for Reuters…….
Herbie thanks for the correction. I’ve fixed the error. Note I referenced it correctly the first time in my Technorati tags just an innocent mistake 🙂
Photo manipulation has been going on for decades, well before photoshop came along.
Photoshop isn’t the enemy. It’s just a tool.
I fall on the side of artistic manipulation of my photos, and am a bit proud of it, too. Then again, I’m not a photo journalist. If I were one, I’d stick to only the most basic adjustments for those sorts of photos: temperature, exposure, tone, contrast, sharpness.
Like Rebecca said, photos have been manipulated without Photoshop ever since photography got started. Just a month or so ago, I read a post on English Russia that gave photographic proof of serious manipulation that went on during Lenin and Stalin’s time, as part of the Soviet efforts to aggrandize them and to hide certain things from the people or the history books.
Pingback: Steven’s Notebook » Blog Archive » On Photo Retouching, a Third Time
Rebecca thanks for posting that. I knew of the Russian use of photo manipulation but didn’t search for it to include it the post. The effort to remove Trotsky is quite amazing. By no means is Photoshop the culprit. It just lowers the barrier for people to make such manipulations.
Raoul artistic manipulation is great. I know I really enjoy your work. I find myself on the other end of the spectrum for the bulk of my work. I aim to capture nature as seen. There are few instances where I’ll manipulate the scene and if I do it will be very obvious. More times than not I’ll pursue in camera techniques to generate an unorthodox effect.
Problems arise when photographers aren’t forth coming about the changes in most other genres. When people feel that they’re being fooled then they have a bad reaction to photo manipulation. It all comes down to expectation setting.
I’m sure that Allan Dietrich will not be the last photographer over taken with scandal and the interpretation of photographic ethics is always being tested. In that regard this topic is always at the forefront of discussion.
Pingback: JMG-Galleries - Pulitzer Prize in Photography 2007: “A Mother’s Journey” by Renee C. Byer
Pingback: JMG-Galleries - The Future of Photo Forgery Detection
Pingback: Photoshop para as ocasiÃµes « J o r n a d a
Pingback: PhotoNetCast #7 - Editing and Processing in Photography | PhotoNetCast
As mentioned in the article above, the Toledo Blade fired photographer Allan Dietrich for digitally manipulating images. Below is a link to an image published on the front page (print and digital edition) of the 8/25/08 Toledo Blade, a year and a half after the termination of Mr. Dietrich.
*sniff* Your words were beautiful *sniff* I couldn’t agree more. In my Genre of wdding photography, of course it is not unethical, but I stay away from it for the most part. Mainly because I don’t want my work to be DATED…..like puffy shoulders on wedding dresses and huge bangs on woman. While it’s not unethical, I do wonder why fellow wedding photographers feel the need to heavily manipulate.
Brad Walters Photography
Pingback: What do you reckon?