Aesthetics versus truth: DW Akademie examines ethics of retouching
How do you balance the demands of aesthetics and documentary truth? DW Akadamie has published a feature examining the challenges faced by photojournalists and picture editors in creating attractive and atmospheric images, without compromising their authenticity.
[Photo: Yuri Kozyrev/NOOR for TIME Magazine]
Image manipulation of documentary photographs is nothing new, but it is certainly much easier now than ever before.
As the article posted by DW Akadamie points out, 'adjusting the fundamental elements of a digital photograph, its DNA if you like, such as exposure/brightness, colour/saturation, whites/blacks, contrast/shadows and much, much more, are as easy as moving a virtual 'slider' with a mouse'.
Most people seem to agree that photojournalists should be held to higher standards than casual photographers when it comes to things like digitally adding or removing elements of an image, but what about exposure? Color balance? Shadow adjustment?
This raises a tricky ethical question for people whose job it is to collect and process documentary images. How much adjustment can be performed before a photograph stops being representative of objective reality in front of the camera?
[Photo: Yuri Kozyrev/NOOR for TIME Magazine]
In an attempt to answer this question, DW Akademie interviewed Claudio Palmisano, one of the founders of 10b Photography Laboratory - a Rome-based 'digital darkroom' that works with several professional photojournalists. Palmisano's philosophy is relatively simple. He states:
Does manipulation of documentary images bother you? If so, how much is too much? Let us know in the comments.
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