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AP cuts ties with Pulitzer-winning photographer

By dpreview staff on Jan 23, 2014 at 22:00 GMT
 Original photo top, altered photo bottom. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)

The Associated Press news organization has cut ties with freelance photographer Narciso Contreras after he admitted to digitally altering a photo taken last September in Syria.  

The photo in question shows a Syrian opposition fighter taking cover during an exchange of fire. In the original photo (see above), a fellow journalist's video camera can be seen in the lower left corner. Contreras cloned out the camera before sending back to AP editors. 

The AP reviewed all 494 photos Contreras filed and no other instances of manipulation were found. Contreras was one of five journalists who shared in a Pulitzer for their work in Syria. 

He told the AP: 

'I took the wrong decision when I removed the camera ... I feel ashamed about that. You can go through my archives and you can find that this is a single case that happened probably at one very stressed moment, at one very difficult situation, but yeah, it happened to me, so I have to assume the consequences.'

This incident highlights some of the challenges photojournalists face in a highly-competitive and fast-moving field. Using image editing tools is a heated topic and it's not the first time a photographer may have used too much Photoshop in a news photo. Learn more about the debate: 

AP's own 'News Values and Principles' guidelines say: 

'No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph. The faces or identities of individuals must not be obscured by Photoshop or any other editing tool. Only retouching or the use of the cloning tool to eliminate dust on camera sensors and scratches on scanned negatives or scanned prints are acceptable ...

Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into grayscale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction...'

What do you think? Is it OK to alter journalistic photographs? 

Comments

Total comments: 170
12
Lenscraft
By Lenscraft (2 months ago)

It seems ridiculous to me that he would be fired for this. It doesn't change the facts of the photo at all.

0 upvotes
doctor digi
By doctor digi (2 months ago)

Well, he wouldn't win a Pulitzer for cloning. You'd think that if you were going to "cheat" (well, I have nothing against some creative editing if it doesn't alter the story being told) he might just have spent a few more minutes cloning the ground more randomly so it wasn't obvious.

Lacking brains? Yes.

0 upvotes
hlritter
By hlritter (3 months ago)

Re cropping vs content alteration: the focal length used for the photo is wholly arbitrary, and therefore so is the field of view and therefore the amount of potentially extraneous material. Nothing holy and inviolable is graven in stone regarding the FL, FOV, or peripheral material in a photo at the moment of exposure. There is no moral obligation for a photograph as published to contain anything peripheral to the focus of interest, even if inclusion of that peripheral matter would alter the viewer's understanding of the situation, any more than it's incumbent on the photog not to 'crop' by using a longer FL. Cropping is OK; alteration of included subject matter is not.

Re Contreras' technical skills: Awesomely clumsy! Some 'donor' material of the image is right on the other side of the fighter's right forearm, and more near the Rt edge! It's as though he wasn't even trying to disguise his alteration. Worst thing since the cloned plumes of battle smoke in Lebanon a few years ago.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Osvaldo Cristo
By Osvaldo Cristo (3 months ago)

The rules were clearly stated and the author knew them, so what is the point? I think AP has to afford their own and public rules in order to their customers (the picture´s buyers) know exactly what they are purchasing.

It is not a question if the rules are fair or not - they are agreed rules between the agency (AP), their customers and (it is expected) by their Photographers.

For me it is not a journalism Ethics issue, but a business Ethics one.

0 upvotes
stevecon
By stevecon (3 months ago)

Too bad the print half of news organizations aren't such sticklers for the whole truth. I understand what the AP is after, but *minor* edits that don't modify the message should be permissible. Cropping *or* cloning out of "another photographer's camera" are two methods of of dealing with the "problem" that still results in an identical message. One is acceptable while the other is verboten. I say, no harm / no foul.

1 upvote
OneGuy
By OneGuy (3 months ago)

The author could have cropped the picture to take the object (camera) out, which would make it ok. The real problem here is that both versions of reality exist and this could give AP headaches if it were to come out. For example, AP is threatening Zimmerman (a guy recently acquitted of manslaughter charges), not to modify and use one of AP's copyrighted photos. If AP wouldn't have a strong 'no-modification' policy, or have a record of plagiarism, they could lose the copyright protection. (Whether AP can prevent Zimmerman from using their copyrighted photos is another question again.)

0 upvotes
Marchellome
By Marchellome (3 months ago)

You couldn't crop this photo and maintained the message. You'd cut off the face and half the gun. Unless of course you consider a trapezoid format.

0 upvotes
AV Janus
By AV Janus (3 months ago)

Wow they are so righteous!!!

Like that will make anybody believe more in the "truth" they are reporting...

1 upvote
Anadrol
By Anadrol (3 months ago)

The mere act of taking a picture in itself is already an alteration of reality (angle of view, aim, exposition...), if cloning is strictly forbidden, one could just take more pictures to get the one that fits the desired intent.

In this particular case, it's difficult to know if cloning out the camera should have been done or not, we don't know the context.
- has the picture been staged ?
- or on the contrary, was the camera there because of mere bad luck ?
What matters is to convey the reality, not if the picture was altered or not.

There are 3 possibilities:
- you edit the picture to better convey what happened there.
- you don't edit edit the picture even if it gives a false view on what happened.
- you don't share the picture to the world.

Here the photographer should have submitted both versions alongside, and described accurately the context.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Deardorff
By Deardorff (3 months ago)

Yet they have no problem using Eugene W. Smith photos that have elements added or removed. Same with Margaret Bourke-White setup images as well as a number of other old photojournalists known for doing this type of thing.

Comment edited 51 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
citizenlouie
By citizenlouie (3 months ago)

Lots of people missed the point. This isn't just about cloning-in/out issue. This is about "trust" issue. If the photographer had submitted the unaltered photo, and then asked if photoshopping, in this very instance, was appropriate, then proceeded with proper guideline, then he wouldn't be fired. This is all about trust. How can anyone trust the integrity of his photos again?

5 upvotes
badi
By badi (3 months ago)

interesting topic, and oh so sensitive....
Adapted quotes from the comments below:
"oh, so what if he removed a small object from the scene"
"A journalistic photo should not remove/add anything... if you remove a camera, you can also remove a person, or add, etc."
the AP rules says: "One is able to crop"

What I want to say...
If one element can be cropped... imagine that if the camera was a tad to the left, or a slight different angle was used when the shot was taken, the camera could be cropped from the image (in post, or in the moment of shooting by zooming in, etc) ... and no one would complain about it.
But the camera being there in the moment, or whatever elements not included in ANY photo, because they would change the picture completely? But than again.... you can't prevent cropping.... maybe only instant 360degrees images should be allowed from now on? And in a kind of RAW-ish format only? :)

1 upvote
Kalin
By Kalin (3 months ago)

Wow, as said by many, I wish AP (and other media, for that matter) would apply the same stringent standard to all the stories they publish.

I feel bad for the journalist. It's not like it's a job in paradise to start with.

6 upvotes
Jon Ingram
By Jon Ingram (3 months ago)

First of all, it's ridiculous that this excellent and well established photographer is receiving so much negative publicity over this one photo. I wish him well. That being said, the AP had a very clear set of guidelines and they were well within their rights to do this. I just wish it hadn't been so public. It's a shame really, such a talented photographer edit's one photo (out of 500) for aesthetic purposes and is burned for it.

3 upvotes
srados
By srados (3 months ago)

AP photographers are masters of set up and photoshop photography.I have seen "dead" people being "dead" on a different locations.Pictures in questions were from Chechnia...just google up.

2 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (3 months ago)

Of course it's not o.k. to alter journalistic photographs! Of course, you have to define what you mean by alter, don't you? I would suggest they tell the photographers they can not do ANY editing, and the editing has to be left to the publihsers. Then the photographers are free to just shoot and not worry about editing. Too bad this editing crap has had to enter the equation. We will never be free from it. Better exposure, sharpness, color . . . all are adjustments that photographers will continue to do in the future. Does it really make much difference to the photo? No, but it makes enough difference that in a competitive field it could give one photographer an advantage over others. That's why they do it, right?

1 upvote
sh10453
By sh10453 (3 months ago)

He would have been safe if he had sent both images, the original and the altered, and let the agency decide which one to publish.

News organizations, especially in the USA (TV networks, especially), are extremely biased, controlled by wealthy individuals or groups of them.
They twist and publish what is sensational, and what is in line with the political views of the owners of such networks. They heavily influence simple minds.

Their lack of ethics is one of the main reasons I don't watch our network news. I simply have no faith in their reporting or ethics.

6 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (3 months ago)

Hey hey. Love the Internet

0 upvotes
designdef
By designdef (3 months ago)

It would be interesting to know if AP applied such stringent rules to their journalists? 'No element of any story or situation should be blown up out of all proportion or omitted entirely, nor should a story be unduly influenced by the use of Twitter or Facebook comments, headlines should be fairly representative of the full story and not just a cheap eye-catching jibe to gain an instant sale. Minor swipes at other publications and points-of-view are however, totally acceptable!'
Rule-makers should also bear in mind, the Auto adjustments commonly used in any modern DSLR, can totally alter the atmosphere of any situation, just by 'normalizing' contrast, saturation and light levels.

0 upvotes
sonofcoco
By sonofcoco (3 months ago)

While I understand it's in the rules that nothing should be cloned in or out of the photo at any time, it does seem a little strange in this particular instance that, if the camera was a food further to the left, he could've cropped it out and it would've been fine. He'd have done essentially the same thing, but with cropping being ok he'd have no issues.

Yes, there needs to be rules in place governing the use of cloning, as it can be used to add or subtract things to the photo that could be misleading. But would AP really be incapable of defining the rule in such a way that removing an element via cloning that could have been cropped if the situation allowed it was acceptable, while removing/adding important elements of the photo is not?

Maybe this would result in chaos, I'm not sure. I'm assuming the reason the rule is so clear cut is because it makes it far easier for AP to apply.

3 upvotes
ecube
By ecube (3 months ago)

Other than cropping, straightening, and adjusting exposure intensity (dark or light), I do not alter my photos. I have the full-blown PhotoShop, a gift from a friend, but I refuse to use it to alter the photos I take.

I do NOT blame anyone who use PhotoShop or any post-processing computer software. To each his own

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
pcblade
By pcblade (3 months ago)

Why don't you use Lightroom instead ?

0 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (3 months ago)

Maybe he does use Lightroom. He didn't say he doesn't.

0 upvotes
bb42
By bb42 (3 months ago)

The rules banning these kind of edits are ludicrous.
Media networks worldwide are spending billions every year to design and bend our perception and define the reality according to their interests.
In a text interview they would easily ask an author to cut sentences they do not consider meaningful or supporting the story.
But for pictures one wants to keep up the idea of total objectivity. Ludicrous.

2 upvotes
Esoz
By Esoz (3 months ago)

The laws are there for a reason. A photojournalist's job is to tell you what happened there through pictures. Allowing any kind of alteration to a picture's contents means opening the door for people to change the facts.
If you can remove a camera from a picture, you can remove a person from it, too. Now imagine if that was allowed.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Jon Ingram
By Jon Ingram (3 months ago)

I agree. I'm all for creative editing and processing of all kinds, but when it comes to photo journalism, I think the AP's stance is perfect.

2 upvotes
bb42
By bb42 (3 months ago)

Esoz, what's so frightening about being able to remove a person?
The photographer could as well choose a different position to avoid the person in the first place.
And then, did the photographer record the attitude of the soldier, his motives or plans? So, the picture is a mere illustration to a story - that was chosen and edited to the publishers linking.

0 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (3 months ago)

Cloning out the camera is one thing but removing the left leg was plain wrong.

Just kidding.

5 upvotes
Esoz
By Esoz (3 months ago)

ROFL!

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (3 months ago)

what a clown..... everyone knows that´s a no go....

2 upvotes
icmp
By icmp (3 months ago)

I get a kick out of this photographer playing 'victim'. In the end, he cannot even take full responsibility for his actions.

This deliberate removal of the object was something "that happened probably at one very stressed moment, at one very difficult situation..".

Now look, I don't doubt the photo was taken under those conditions... but the EDITING? Did he photoshop in the field and, under duress, and then choose to spend the time to remove an object? This is a non-sensical excuse.

The quote then goes on to say "but yeah, it happened to me, so I have to assume the consequences.". It happened TO him? No, he did that TO the photo. What 'happened to him' is he got caught.

Paraphrased, it could read "Sorry I got caught, so here's a statement that resembles acceptance of responsibility, but not before I play the victim card twice in a row."

Just my opinion, based on what was reported.

7 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (3 months ago)

Your analysis seems reasonable.

4 upvotes
Paul Janders
By Paul Janders (3 months ago)

It's laughable, as some suggest here, that removing certain items from a news photo and replacing those items with something else is okay for a photojournalist. If AP didn't have rules that prohibited such things they would be out of business overnight. Twisting facts in writing and image making is one of the most insidious things a news organization can do.

If you want to see where something like this can end up please visit this site:

http://www.newseum.org/berlinwall/commissar_vanishes/index.htm

Or you can just search for Soviet Photo Manipulation.

It's astonishing that anyone living in a free society would advocate, excuse or endorse such things.

3 upvotes
Ulfric M Douglas
By Ulfric M Douglas (3 months ago)

Rules are rules, cloning is serious if you've signed a pact with your employers promising NOT to do that! What a muppet.

2 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (3 months ago)

I take no issue with the establishment of rules within a journalistic practice, but let's not forget that image making has always been a problematic agent of "truth". The photographic process is fraught with technical conditions that may bend representation. As much as we might like to think it as an impartial, unbiased eye, a photography is a construction and the veracity of that "pictured" is always in question. Retouching/removing an element may seem extreme but there are numerous examples throughout the history of documentary photography, certainly far pre-dating the digital era.

While it may not be an analog in terms of altering context as much as in this case, Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother", arguably the most iconic image from the Great Depression, was altered in this way - the subjects thumb was removed as it was considered distracting. The irony there being that this turned out to be the most minor of journalistic missteps in the case surrounding this image. Her written documentation (an extended caption, as was demanded of FSA and other government employed photographers of the time) has been largely discredited. Yet, though the literal reality in this case breaks down, one cannot argue that she did capture a dire essence of what was a wider circumstance. She, in the strictest sense, transgressed against what we now observe as photojournalistic code but she remains one of documentary photography's most influential and important figures.

[I know. I know. I sort of implied I'd never again use Lange here as example - I've rode this horse into the ground, so to speak. I swear I know of other photographers and can use them as references in many contexts. But this has been a strange 15 months since discovering by accident that she photographed an image in 1940 just outside my kitchen window.]

0 upvotes
TonvicFoto
By TonvicFoto (3 months ago)

a powerful shot? it's a miserable photo showing a militant, a jihadist taking cover? so what? a pulitzer for this?

3 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (3 months ago)

The Pulitzer was not for this specific photo, but the sum of his work in Syria.

4 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (3 months ago)

still better then all photos you shot your entire life.....

1 upvote
mcshan
By mcshan (3 months ago)

Henry, How do you know that?

5 upvotes
bb42
By bb42 (3 months ago)

In Libya I met some of your "jihadists", they are simply people who are willing to take the ultimate risk for the common cause.
This decision is not easyly made, so it's a kind of fight, mostly with your own fears.
I'm not saying that I'd want to live neccesarily in the society they are thinking to build.
But they still deserve full respect.

0 upvotes
Lights
By Lights (3 months ago)

I would think that the cloning out of the camera in no way alters the truth of the shot...but then rules are rules and once bent soon may be broken. A shame though for such a small infraction on such a powerful shot.
For some other thoughts research the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima shot back in the 40's ?

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Mirrorless Crusader
By Mirrorless Crusader (3 months ago)

I guess the AP has never heard of something called common sense. Nobody wants to see that camera in the corner. I don't care how many other people were filming the guy and it is immaterial to the significance of the photograph. What is the AP going to do next, fire people for cropping?

5 upvotes
16mpx
By 16mpx (3 months ago)

This time camera in the corner, next time machine gun in the middle, so where is the end ? This supposed to be a news photo not a fine art...

8 upvotes
bb42
By bb42 (3 months ago)

16mpx, the decision to take that point of view, at that time, and press the button in that very moment - this all influence the message of any picture, news or not.
So what are you missing in this edit - "reality"?

1 upvote
Paul Farace
By Paul Farace (3 months ago)

Too bad their journalistic integrity doesn't extend to other areas, especially writing and editing! As a former newspaper journalist, it makes me crazy to see how leftist and biased the media is...
so this photog was spiked because he "cleaned" up an image that didn't need it... stupid on his part, nuts on the editors part.

5 upvotes
Sabatia
By Sabatia (3 months ago)

Ah yes. And Faux News is "fair and balanced". LOL!!!

3 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (3 months ago)

Hi Sabatia. Maybe that proves Paul's point. I am fairly liberal and I can't name a second major right wing TV news network. It wouldn't be any fun if FOX agreed with CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC. I watch these (normally CNN) but it is good to check the lean right guys out. Sometimes the truth is in the middle ground. I don't trust any TV news network. All have agendas.

4 upvotes
jaykumarr
By jaykumarr (3 months ago)

May be my point is irrelevant, but the truth is the truth. The media is mostly leftist. occasionally way too leftist.

there was a news in NPR was gang-rape of women in Bihar India. But there was another one last month in Karaikkal, South India, but no news broadcast since the rapists were Muslims and Dalit Atheist party. That was despite that chief of rapist gang was brother of minister and the minister Mohammed Nazim announced in TV that the girl was in 'heat inviting the 13 rapists'!! while the girl was in ECU.

Same NPR was broadcasting news for 100 times about a Hindu-Muslim clash in which Hindus over reacted. But there was no news at all about 400,000 'rich' Kashmiri Hindus who were permanently living in streets of Delhi as homeless refugees, since the damage was caused by Muslims.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Stanchung
By Stanchung (3 months ago)

jaykumarr-you're being sarcastic? muslims=leftist?
Honestly- in the scheme of things, the media spews whatever those in power wants you to hear.
Rarely is it the truth.

4 upvotes
cmantx
By cmantx (3 months ago)

It's a real shame that this thread is degenerating to the usual political polarizing **** when the discussion is about if it's proper to crop a journalistic photo.
It would be nice to concentrate on photography here. There are so many other sites to express your politics.

4 upvotes
SalmanH
By SalmanH (3 months ago)

Hi mcshan - I can name a few right wing TV news networks. FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Sky, etc. Almost all news networks from the US or UK are right wing, no?

0 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (3 months ago)

Hi cman, I see your point but two or three posts out of 135 (so far) is no big deal. It happens and this has been a great thread to read. Take care.

Hi Sal, No. Only FOX on your list is right wing. The other five are all left. I can't speak for the UK.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
1 upvote
lotonlune
By lotonlune (3 months ago)

I understand AP's response: their rules are clear and Contreras broke them. I'm more intrigued by Contreras' motivations:
1) perfectionism?
2) aesthetics?
3) narcissism?
4) guilt? (of a reality so embarrassing it needs to be eliminated)
What I find most telling (and somehow puzzling) is the passive form of his statement: "it happened to me" - the hand of god!!
This expression combined with the fact he doesn't truly apologize actually suggests it is but an endemic practice in photo-journalism.
And after all, why shouldn't it be, since photo-journalists can set things up or crop out (with their zoom or in PP) however they want?
Maybe it's time we acknowledged quantum reality: the wave does collapse and the observer does have an effect!

4 upvotes
sik_photos
By sik_photos (3 months ago)

It is almost universally acceptable to crop a photo. It is also historically accepted to dodge and burn a photo in the darkroom (or digitally)to enhance the quality of the image without changing the essence of the news, preserving the message of the image. In this case the removal of the camera in the corner of the image has zero to do with the communication of news events.
All "reporting" ,including photography, involves a conscious editing of reality, what you choose to show and what you choose not to show, the context into which you place things, and more, and among such choices and all are subjective. To even choose which images to publish (or send to your publisher) are editing choices. All photographers and their employers know this.

It would be quite naive to believe that this type of editing, photoshop pixel manipulation, does not happen all the time; I suspect there is something else going on in the decision to end working with this photographer.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Gavril Margittai
By Gavril Margittai (3 months ago)

"In this case the removal of the camera in the corner of the image has zero to do with the communication of news events."

I disagree.

It has everything to do with communication of news events. Now it is clear to me that this image was not taken in "the height of a battle" but it was staged. Like probably most pictures coming from that area.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
9 upvotes
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (3 months ago)

"It has everything to do with communication of news events. Now it is clear to me that this image was not taken in "the height of a battle" but it was staged. Like probably most pictures coming from that area."

I take your point but you would have been none the wiser had he been able to remove the camera by cropping were it in a different position in the frame and he would not have been sanctioned for doing that.

As to it being staged you may suggest that, but you don't know for sure. Photographers have been known to be right up there in the thick of the action so why there would not be a chance of a camera being caught in a photo in the thick of it I don't know.

What he should have done if the thought the camera spoiled the photo and it was not possible to crop it out is simply not submit the photo to AP.

As he did and AP concluded he had not done this on any other photo a warning would suffice IMO. Looks like AP wanted to make a point or use this an an excuse to ditch him

1 upvote
RedFox88
By RedFox88 (3 months ago)

Over reaction by the AP. Removing the camera/object is akin to removing a branch or leaf because it "got in the way" of what you were photographing, or cloning out a street light because it was unsightly. Removing the camera does not alter the subject of the image.

1 upvote
fiddlethis
By fiddlethis (3 months ago)

Really bad clone job.

0 upvotes
mauritsvw
By mauritsvw (3 months ago)

I'm surprised at all the naive comments. One can debate whether AP's sanction was too harsh, but there is no doubt that the altering of content in a NEWS photograph is a very, very serious offence, just as serious as misrepresentation of facts in a news story. The reputation of journalism depends on total truthfulness. That's what separates all the wannabee reporters on the internet from true journalists who follow strict ethical rules, and are held accountable for the material they produce, as in the case of this AP photographer.

12 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (3 months ago)

@mauritsvw! There are photographs and then there are NEWS photographs. This isn't about art in the traditional sense (although the two often come together).

It is difficult enough finding the truth in news stories without having what we see being altered. I support the AP on this one.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Stanchung
By Stanchung (3 months ago)

agree, even cropping can alter meaning so no cloning and accept your photo has a little mess in it.

Don't ruin the integrity of other journalists.

4 upvotes
jaysonmc
By jaysonmc (3 months ago)

The farce is the realm of photojournalism itself. We are made to believe these are real images at real times. But this is nothing more than a stage. It is telling your subject walk over here, when you do--put your hand in this place, hold your gun like this; I need to make it look real. The problem here, some photographer left a camera in the wrong place. Is there really much of a difference between editing the photo post shot and setting up the shot to begin with?

There is no integrity in photojournalism; either before or after. The photo is just a lie to tell a story. Photojournalism are not candids. Let's not believe it is not setup.

3 upvotes
JonSr
By JonSr (3 months ago)

No Photo is to be trusted. #fu photojournalists. Manipulators.

1 upvote
JosephScha
By JosephScha (3 months ago)

I think the AP's rule is just possibly excessively strict but completely reasonable. They want the original image, and THEY will decide what (if anything) to do to it. If the photographer felt the other video camera totally messed up the image, he should have cropped off the bottom, that's allowed. But that would probably also have ruined the image. Can't crop off the left to remove the video camera, it would remove part of the subject's head. I suspect that the photographer had these exact thoughts and thought "This picture is too good, too true, to have it messed up by that stupid video camera". While I am sympathetic, it is the AP that insists on seeing the original pixels. So, deciding to REMOVE the video camera broke their rules. That's that. The edited version should not have been submitted to the AP.

0 upvotes
macjonny1
By macjonny1 (3 months ago)

they should outlaw zoom lenses too. In fact, you should have to use prime lenses and only shoot in a wheelchair so you can't foot-zoom. Wheelchair wheels locked of course, or it would be OK to shoot standing if you tie your shoe laces together.

0 upvotes
osu
By osu (3 months ago)

Complete over reaction on the part of the AP.

3 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (3 months ago)

no.. rules are rules you clown.

it´s a question what people can believe. when you don´t get that your are a brainwashed... like so many today.

3 upvotes
kgreggain
By kgreggain (3 months ago)

For me, removing the camera has no documentary based relevance in the photo. My other half says they have to draw the line somewhere.

One name comes to mind for journalistic photography which was modified not by photoshop but by extensive dodge, and burn, and correction in the dark room. Many attribute his death to exposure to harmful chemicals over time.

Eugene Smith

https://www.google.ca/search?q=eugene+smith+photography&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=mKLiUrjKGo2ayQGn8oGgBQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1920&bih=955

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
1 upvote
munro harrap
By munro harrap (3 months ago)

Well, this is no worse than cropping an image. In the rules can you not crop???
Yes you can, and that can do far more damage to the integrity of the image than here. I would have moaned and complained suggesting that as its really a crop (since you could not do a suitably shaped crop), that I be allowed to reinstate it.
As it can also be burned in, then I'd ask to burn it into the background.

BUT, since they allow cropping which can do more than anything else to change the content and context of an image, and since they allow greyscale conversion-which is even more untruthful folks,( oh yes!!), I personally would not have disqualified him.

Ido not use monochrome anymore as it bears little relation to what you see and affects the sense of a photograph directly-(think football shirts).

To me a crop is OK only if you could not get close enough to fill the frame as you wished, but I would not have cropped this photo.

I would not have submitted it-it has zero content and is boring.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Pacwings
By Pacwings (3 months ago)

Couldn't agree more - this is, as you suggest, akin virtually to just a "different-shaped crop".

I agree completely that it is farcical to allow cropping but rule out this. A crop can be far more misleading than this.

2 upvotes
Peter Bendheim
By Peter Bendheim (3 months ago)

One tends to think of journalistic photographic manipulation as being something only present in the digital age. Its not true...for example...one of the famous images of students killed in a protest at Ohio State University in the late 60's had an inconvenient pole in the background behind a devastated student, which was removed in editing and that has become a famous and accepted image in the history of journalism. In Nachtwey's movie War Photographer, Nachtwey gives instructions to his printer to dodge, burn and highlight areas of an image to focus attention or create effect. That's also manipulation. I think it's really a no-no to alter the content of an image so as to lie - as in adding extra victims or body parts - but this edit has not taken away from the image or created a visual lie, the debate is precious and silly and should be dictated by common sense. The whole underlying intent was to clean up an otherwise good news image.

1 upvote
Serge Yavorski
By Serge Yavorski (3 months ago)

Photographers clone things out all the time. I think it's an overreaction in the highest degree? Bordering on stupidity actually.

1 upvote
JohnEwing
By JohnEwing (3 months ago)

Harsh.

2 upvotes
buginarug
By buginarug (3 months ago)

I only wish TV video news coverage worked under the same rules. I have watched TV crews manipulate their coverage all the time. They use outdated takes in their edits as if of the subject being covered, set up shots as if that is what really happened, and then they win awards for doing it. Why do still image shooters have to work under different rules then video? If this photographer had just darkened down the left lower corner to obscure the camera as if he had burned in the area under the enlarger using film that would have been fine and that is what he should have done, not cloned it out. Please lets now hold TV crews to the same standards including AP video crews. I will bet the AP does not hold their video crews to this type of standard. Coverage is coverage, hold the same standard for all not just still photographers. Until they do that no one should be judged or fired. Newspaper editors ask me to set up shots all the time but I am not allowed to decide when to do it myself.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
wcbert
By wcbert (3 months ago)

These rules are out dated and have to be looked out. The only one that cares is not the public but the purist photographers.

1 upvote
cale johnson
By cale johnson (3 months ago)

It's a rule, not a law. Laws can be out dated but rules are rules.

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (3 months ago)

Rules are rules? Are you implying rules can never be changed?

0 upvotes
RedFox88
By RedFox88 (3 months ago)

... and rules were made to be broken! :D

1 upvote
cale johnson
By cale johnson (3 months ago)

By tkbslc (7 hours ago)
Rules are rules? Are you implying rules can never be changed?

No, but the rules in question aren't public, they're what the company says they are. So you see? They just are.

0 upvotes
Jake21
By Jake21 (3 months ago)

It is not ok but I would still give this guy a break since his changes were, imho, minor.

2 upvotes
hiro_pro
By hiro_pro (3 months ago)

it is interesting that cropping is allowed but cloning is not. i have seen too many photos taken completely out of context by cropping down to one dramatic part of a more mundane scene. you see it all the time when they crop down a few kids throwing stones to create the illusion of large scale civil unrest.

6 upvotes
anthony mazzeri
By anthony mazzeri (3 months ago)

I agree wholeheartedly with this. The iconic napalm girl image is the classic example which is really no different to what was done here by removing the distracting peripheral objects. So if he had been able to crop the video camera out instead of retouching it in order to make the image more dramatic, what would be the difference? In fact, that's probably exactly why he did clone it out, because he couldn't crop it out effectively.

0 upvotes
t3mpu5
By t3mpu5 (3 months ago)

By choosing specific focal length you are croping the reality. By choosing common and not e.g. thermographic camera (or other for that matter) you are capturing certain aspects of reality which excites all three types of cone cells in eyes of those 100 000 people from whose one is affected by monochromacy. However, by submitting the photograph he has decided to accept certain rules. Rules of those who "...believe in the power of visual journalism to inspire and shape us". But is there something under the sun, something what you can capture or define in other way, that can actually inspire and shape us? If the next two assumptions are true and do not contradict themselves - "nihil novi sub sole" and "we can be inspired or shaped" - then it really can not be by something "sub sole".

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
t3mpu5
By t3mpu5 (3 months ago)

I'm sorry that the quotation "We believe in the power of visual journalism to inspire and shape us" is taken from World Press Photo instead of AP, who "have had the privilege of bringing truth to the world."* But the rest still applies to them as well. By truth they mean something what corresponds to their notion of reality, what they can capture or define in other way, what they can hold in their hands. Essentially something with what they can manipulate. But is Truth something at disposal - whenever we would or wouldn't like?
*) http://www.ap.org/company/News-Values

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
NCB
By NCB (3 months ago)

No, it's not OK. The whole point about journalistic photography is that you photograph what was there, and if you change the content you step over the boundary. Correcting technical flaws in the pic is one thing; altering the content is totally different.

9 upvotes
Serge Yavorski
By Serge Yavorski (3 months ago)

No, it is OK... or should be OK. It's not like the presence of the video camera in the was much of a content. By removing that camera the main content was not changed a bit. Someone is really grasping for straws here. Maybe someone wanted him out, so this little insignificant cloning ended up being an excuse to get rid of the guy.

0 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (3 months ago)

"Maybe someone wanted him out". Speaking of grasping for straws.

1 upvote
Gavril Margittai
By Gavril Margittai (3 months ago)

Serge, How can you not see through the lie? The guy is presented as a fighter, doing the fighting, when in reality he is just a model dressed in a uniform in an open air studio. Does this matter?

1 upvote
Total comments: 170
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