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Final Blog Comment

June 6, 2013
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In May, controversy erupted over whether the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year had been faked with PhotoShop or “merely” manipulated. This followed a lively debate last year over a photo that had been significantly manipulated (in much the same way) and published by the Washington Post. Poynter.org has published a piece on the latest flap, just as last year it published a good overview and a shorter take on experts’ divergent views. Too glib to say, merely, “Get used to it.” Photojournalists have been altering photos since the beginning. What does the new fakery portend for the future of reliable, credible information? What do you think? Reply in 150-200 words below by 7 p.m. Monday, June 10.

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2013 2:19 pm

    At the dawn of the photography era, photojournalists were limited by the technology available to them in such a way that capturing the shots we see in newspapers around the world today would be almost impossible. Even in the past decade, we have changed the international photo medium from film to digital storage, allowing for high-definition capturing of some of the world’s most historical events.

    However, when someone manipulates and alters these historical records, they are not only changing a picture, but history itself. Truth is a precious thing, and without trust in those who are supposed to bring us fact, we will more likely have artistic generations of real events.

    People love reality, they crave the factual truths of society that make us a cohesive world; that make us, for better or worse, humanity. Sugar-coating and manipulating these truths for personal gain is disrespectful to every soul on this planet and utterly unbecoming of a journalist.

    The person who took this photo could be a great photography artist I’m sure, but he misrepresented his work and altered history for his own gain, and that is purely wrong.

  2. Andrea Voynovich permalink
    June 7, 2013 10:03 pm

    I agree that photos have been “touched-up” for many years but mostly those “touch-ups” included some fairly unsophisticated technology which may have just lightened the photo or made some blurring blend in. The problem we have today is that the technology to “touch-up” the photos has become so advanced that it can actually change the meaning or importance of the photo. Adding too much light in certain areas almost made the photo in question look like a miracle light was shining down on the people in the photo. It also made it look so unnatural that it bordered on looking cartoonish. I think the raw, grittiness of some photos is what makes the photo striking or shocking. It is a slippery slope to “touch-up” a picture just to make it look prettier. Photos tell a story the same way words do and by altering the photos to make them look “prettier” we may be altering the story too and thereby decreasing its credibility just like changing the words in a story can give the story a totally different meaning. How can we trust that the change was only cosmetic and not manipulative.

  3. Sam Geller permalink
    June 8, 2013 12:56 pm

    Photo altering is something that both poses positive and negitive side too it. I think if it is in the case to add better filtering to add intensity and make a picture look diffrent that is ok, as long as it dosent change the overall meaning of the photo. I dont think the meaning of a photo should be altered in any way that changes what the actual meaning of the photo is. You cant alter a photo of someone doing something and change it to them doing anything diffrent and implying they were doing anything diffrent to me would be news that wasnt truthful. Changing a persons actions by altering a picture can distort the whole truth to a story.

  4. Jesse Namour permalink
    June 8, 2013 2:42 pm

    I find this subject really interesting because I have a huge passion for photography. Photoshop is a tool that I even use occasionally when I need to touch up the lighting or color balance in a picture. From a photographer’s standpoint there is nothing wrong with making lighting or color correction edits to a photo. However, I believe it becomes an issue once photo editors change the actual picture itself. Photoshop has so many different capabilities today that the meaning of a picture can easily be changed. For example I could crop out a person out of the picture or even crop someone who wasn’t there into the picture. I would almost go as far to say that photo editors should be allowed to use a dumbed up version of photoshop. A version that only allows you to preform minor touch ups and not the meaning itself.

  5. June 8, 2013 3:21 pm

    Being both a photographer and a photoshop user, I’ve found altering a photo can, in some situations, more accurately portray what something looks like in person. For example, take a picture of a vibrantly colorful sunset and many times you’ll find the color representation just isn’t there. Many editors will then bump the saturation up enough to bring some more life into the photo. These techniques fly in the face of the “purists”. Though, what is the purpose of a photo? Is it not to establish a link between the moment the image was taken and the viewer…attaching with it a sliver of the original emotion from the scene? Representing the original scene in good faith is what makes the most sense to me. Sometimes that process comes in the form of leaving a picture completely untouched. Other times it requires light post processing of brightness/contrast/shadows/highlights/saturation/levels and curves to accurately represent the original scene. Taking the picture means you’re only halfway done, in my opinion.

    Point being: http://i.imgur.com/g5paB76.jpg

  6. Keira White permalink
    June 9, 2013 1:42 pm

    A picture is not always going to be perfect as soon as it is taken and uploaded to the computer. Sometimes you have to change the brightness, saturation, and contrast among other things. I even love to edit my photos. Also, consider how you feel when your pictures have red eye. When you use photoshop to correct that, you are actually altering the picture to show how the image appeared in real life. Sometimes you need to alter a photo to make it more accurate, because cameras are not perfect. I do however think it is very wrong to change an image in a way that it does not accurately portray the original scene the camera captured. Unfortunately people do this and we will need to be more wary of the images we see. It is our right to be skeptical and in this day and age, we need to be.

  7. Chad Nicholas permalink
    June 9, 2013 8:53 pm

    I do not see a problem with someone changing the color of a photo to make it more viewable to people. But when someone photoshops the picture to make it look different than it actually is, such as adding another picture to it, I do not find it right. When changing it that way it does not show the true meaning of the picture. But whose to blame the most? I feel like the person who prints that picture on the article is the one to blame. They should know better that the picture was photoshopped especially if you can tell that a picture was added to it by using photoshop.

  8. Kelsey Nunn permalink
    June 9, 2013 10:31 pm

    I believe that being able to change the color or brightness of a photo to make it a better picture is okay. I do not think for journalism they should edit pictures that does anything to change the truth in the picture. I don’t think if you take a picture of hurricane damage that you should make it look worse than it is, or make it look better. As a photojournalism you are trying to tell the truth of a situation. I do however think if you are posting a picture for example of a person who just won the lottery and they clearly have something wrong with them, like face blemishes or a double chin, and the photo journalist is going to use this picture in a news article that they should fix what is wrong with it, to prevent from humiliating someone. In today day in age people should also know not to believe everything they hear and see, even if there is a picture of it, because of things like photo shop, where you could make something seem completely different than it actually is.

  9. Wyatt Blatt permalink
    June 9, 2013 10:49 pm

    I believe that in any way you decide to alter something, especially a photo, you are altering the truth. Even if it the smallest thing whether you decide to fix a persons face, change a color, or even crop or cut things out of the photo, you are changing the way we are going to percieve something which may be intentionally used to make us feel a certain way about someone or something. I do not feel that it is ok for the news presses to have someone hired to “fix” photos, they need to be as naked “not altered” as much as possible so we can view the truth as it really is. The news press was created for the public to see the truth as it really it, altering photos is just another tool used to try and alter our views on people and places all around the world.

  10. Cantrella Canady permalink
    June 10, 2013 7:56 am

    If movie directors are given credit and awards for their “artistic adaptation” of historical events, why can’t photographers be given the same privilege? I believe that if movie makers made movies just as events occurred, without any alterations or Hollywood pizzazz to make their pieces aesthetically appealing to viewers, then they wouldn’t get the attention recognition for their work. The same for photographers: the beauty of being an artist is to show us, the viewers, what they see through their eyes as the event occurred. They are warranted to capture the moment and portray what they saw and how they saw it in efforts to have us feel the same way they did. So, if adjustments are necessary (change of lighting, brightening or darkening colors, etc.) to get that point across, then I think they should be allowed to adjust without criticism. However, just as movie makers are required to use the “following movie is a dramatization…” or “based on a true story…” disclaimers, so should photographers, in order to maintain an element of integrity with their audience. Also, the original piece should be provided upon request. With those stipulations in place, I think that photographers should be given the liberty of modifications without judgement.

  11. Farrah Pruskauer permalink
    June 10, 2013 10:15 am

    Photo shopping has become so easy nowadays anyone can do it. I feel photo editing in journalism would be okay in the sense that the picture is only being enhanced. For instance, contrast change and color balancing just improve the quality of the picture should be allowed. I don’t think more advanced forms of photo shop should be used in journalism though. This would include changing backgrounds or subjects in the picture. This changes both the picture itself as well as the meaning of the picture. Because the line for faking a picture and “merely manipulating” it is vague, I feel stricter policies and more specific definitions should be enforced to ensure the media is getting credible information. The negative effects of photo shopping in journalism are apparent in the many false sightings of mermaids and Sasquatch. As a firm believer in mermaids, I am against any excessive use of photo shop in journalism. Let’s minimize the scams and get back to discovery and reporting!

  12. TessaSteele permalink
    June 10, 2013 11:59 am

    If standards regarding digital manipulation and new practices in photo taking aren’t made and met by photojournalists I think credibility is going to go out the window. Photojournalism is an art in a sense. An art at capturing what is there; this kind of photographing shouldn’t be using other methods to capture how it seemed or felt. Photojournalism should be documentation. If you want to be an art photographer go do that. Artists depict what they see how they see it and they come up with some very unrealistic images This World Press case is more specifically deceitful since the photographer continued to alter the photo leading up to the contest. The picture that won wasn’t the one that was circulated. I think lines can be drawn on this issue and distinctions can be made. Yes some manipulation of photographs isn’t wrong but more and more techniques are being developed that can denigrate the integrity of the original image shot and standards and guidelines should be made along the way.

  13. Evan Nader permalink
    June 10, 2013 2:19 pm

    The concept of altering photos is rather broad. In some cases, altering a photo is just enhancing the colors present at the time that photo was captured. In doing so, I feel that the picture is being done justice and therefore is not fraud-like. There are also times, possibly in this photo of the year case, where significant altering makes that shot no longer a photo but a project. Enhancing the light is reasonable, but using photoshop and creating visual effects not from the original photo results in a false depiction of the event. I suppose it is a slippery slope when pictures begin becoming unreliable reflections. You can’t believe everything you read, so it is a shame that photo’s are no longer authentic. At least light has been brought to this subject so hopefully the future of news, or at the very least photos, can be a reliable source.

  14. Stephanie Rieselman permalink
    June 10, 2013 2:22 pm

    This is something I am very on the fence about. When it comes to retouching, editing, and altering photos in any way it should be done in a realistic way, and not overdone. Many people disagree because photos these days are so manipulated, they’re completely distorted from their original form. This is especially controversial in the way that women are touched up and photoshopped in magazines. There has always been a certain “image” that women are portrayed in magazines, which greatly affect girls in the way they see themselves. This kind of photo altering is one of the many negatives sides to this. If a photo is altered with an effect or filter to enhance the photo, that is completely acceptable. If a photo is altered in a way that it only is meant to enrich its quality and not distort its original image, then I think photo altering/retouching can be a very helpful and useful tool, especially in the future as our technology advances.

  15. Emery Ramaswami permalink
    June 10, 2013 2:38 pm

    When presented with this issue I thought immediately that this practice had to stop and that it may mean the end of reliable and credible photos that are provided by our news organizations. I later realized that it may not be as wrong and detrimental to credible news as people may think. I feel that photos that are altered shouldn’t be allowed to receive prestigious awards such as the ones mentioned in the article, and the photos submitted should be checked by the program mentioned in the article. However, in some cases a photo that is altered may be used to better portray a message, or assist in portraying the message that is presented in an article. The picture of the bridge that was altered is an acceptable use of an altered photo, since it did help convey the message in the article.
    In conjunction, the use of altered photos should be very limited and have significant justification for their use. Also any method used to alter the photo should be listed in the subtitle so people can understand that the photo was altered. In conclusion, the proper use of altered photos may not be a detriment to the future of reliable credible information, but the way that these photos are currently being used can definitely be damaging.

  16. June 10, 2013 3:16 pm

    I believe that we will continue to see more manipulated photos of items for years to come. Anything that has been altered affects how people form their opinions. In essence, an altered photo is forming the opinion for them. The public should be allowed to form their opinion from actual, unadulterated photos.

    Technology has continued to evolve over the last several years. Photojournalists have been tampering with photos going back to the 1860’s when a photo of Abraham Lincoln was altered using the body from a portrait of John C. Calhoun. Modern technology can totally skew what actually is occurring in photos.

    Another famous instance of controversy over photo manipulation, this time concerning race, was in 1994 when O.J. Simpson was arrested for allegedly murdering his ex-wife and her friend. Multiple media publications carried his mug shot. Time Magazine published an edition which featured an altered mug shot removing the photograph’s color saturation which may have made Simpson’s skin appear darker, and also to reduce the size of the prison ID number. This appeared on newsstands right next to an unaltered picture of Simpson by Newsweek Magazine.

    In my opinion, the new fakery is not reliable, credible information.

  17. VIctoria Trujillo permalink
    June 10, 2013 3:19 pm

    As time changes, so has technology when it comes to cameras. With clearer pictures and sharper forces, one would think that there really is no need to alter the way the photos come out. With everyone trying to be their best, they want to capture the best of the best when it comes to photo that will take them to the top. Photoshop has many wonders and people take control over that if they want to change someone’s eye color or even make the photo as clear as it can be. In a sense, photography if starting to disappear slowly because now and days, everyone can call theirs a “photographer” because of Photoshop and instagram. It’s really hard to stop people from doing what they want, even with this problem growing each day. In today’s word, it’s hard to trust any photos because you might not even know if the photo you’re seeing if the original one or a fake. Some photographers might say that they only altered one item in a photo but when in reality, the whole photo could have been altered. In the end, the only thing we can really trust is our gut feeling. A little white lie can be the tip of the iceberg but who knows what it’s really like beneath the water?

  18. Mallory Steele permalink
    June 10, 2013 3:55 pm

    The new fakery will bring forth both positives and negatives for the future. Altering photos have been a helpful tool in portraying photos to the public through the experience photojournalists have felt in an event. Many people agree that enhancing a photo is negatively portraying all originality and evidence of the event that really happened. However, I argue that you only need to modify photos to make sure they are able to be seen by the news consumers, such examples would be fixing the saturation of lighting, as well as removing unnecessary shadows that hold the photo back from portraying the mood of the event. Everyday as Americans we fix the lighting on our photos before posting them to social media, so how can we depict if photojournalists are doing the same? I believe photojournalists have the right to alter how they deceive the event to have happened, but not enough to where it looks completely fake and has no originality or realness to it. Photojournalists need to remember that reliability of news events are more important then just getting recognition for a beautifully altered photo.

  19. June 10, 2013 5:35 pm

    The fakery doesn’t really change anything. After reading the page on picture manipulation, it made me see that a lot of picture we exposed to are staged and manipulated in some way. However, I still don’t like the idea that a person can make a fake picture and sell it off as something real in order to make personal gain. The whole situation just makes me even more wary of news and the reliability of information. To be honest, I find it exhausting fact checking and verifying everything I read and see from the news. We should be able to trust these people and not have to worry about being lied to. This is way I can’t stand watching the news or reading it. It’s sad because it turns people, like me, away from following the news. Regarding the recent controversy, I really do not care because this practice seems to have become a standard procedure in the industry and will be hard to stop considering how powerful photo altering software has become.

  20. Christopher Larsen permalink
    June 10, 2013 5:37 pm

    There is a significant difference in altering a photo to make it more clear and changing a photo to make it have a completely different meaning. One may offer more value to a photo to help people appreciate it. On the other hand, changing a photo to give it a completely different meaning may be considered morally wrong. People interpret photos differently depending on how it is presented to them. This is similar to how the West Borough Baptist Church interprets the bible completely different from most other Protestant churches. Do I think using photoshop to change pictures to alter their meaning is wrong? Yes I do, however I also think it is something that is going to happen and must happen in order for people to start understanding that everything that is thrown at them isn’t completely true. It’s far too often that people believe the media or interpret it however they want using their subconscious bias. People will learn from their own mistakes, and hopefully end up with a more open mind.

  21. Karli Gomes permalink
    June 10, 2013 5:59 pm

    As a college student with social media, I love the use of Photoshop. Adding that extra color and saturation is always exciting. However, when speaking about the news, I don’t think that photo editing is a necessary tool. Yes it’s always nice to lighten a picture or add more color but when we rely on news to be the “truth” I don’t believe altered pictures in any possible way should be allowed. I feel this way because if something was altered in the least bit of the wrong way it can lead to a mis understanding of the photo, and the wrong truth could get out. People already believe too much of what isn’t the right information in this world, adding a picture won’t help.

  22. Carlos Lopez permalink
    June 10, 2013 6:03 pm

    I think that the use of Photoshop and similar programs is instrumental to the field of Photojournalism, though there are caveats. While such programs may distort images, their intended use and purpose are as quality improvement tools. Photojournalists seek to complement news stories with images that compel and engage the viewer in a way that written stories cannot. They use Photoshop to augment their photos in a way that offers greater validity to the portrayal of the content.

    However, Photoshop and its abilities have been abused. Photos can be manipulated to the point of inaccuracy and therefore become unreliable information. If they haven’t already, then photojournalists should establish a code of ethics. This rubric would differentiate between manipulation for the sake of more authentic portrayal and that of distortion. This technology has created a new level of criteria for photojournalism and might elevate its review and criticism to that of written news.

  23. Marissa Weiley permalink
    June 10, 2013 6:09 pm

    Photoshopping something before releasing it to the public raises a lot of questions, but I think it’s okay in some very minor cases, if the proper lines are drawn and people know what is no longer appropriate to photoshop. For example, if a newspaper is featuring someone in the local community for their top story and every photo that is taken of said person turns out bad, maybe one eye looks a little closed, it would be okay to alter this photo using photoshop. This way the person being featured doesn’t feel ugly or embarrassed. However, if photoshop is being used to alter the meaning behind a picture, or to change the picture into something remarkable that it wasn’t originally, I think that would be taking advantage of our technology. It’s not fair to the public to use programs and alter photos, at least not without outright stating it first. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” But if the picture is a ‘lie’ then what does that say about the story it tells? Information that is ‘smudged’ or ‘fixed up’ is not real and it’s not the true story.

  24. Blake Davis permalink
    June 10, 2013 6:28 pm

    The problem is mostly one of definition; especially since media has moved from the physical “negative” to the virtual digital image. How does one define photo altering? A photographer can choose what image to capture, yet this is not alteration. Cropping photographs is very commonplace and arguably the same as a photographer selecting which images to portray; however, if it leaves out an element that would alter the message or content of the photo, it may be an unethical practice. There are elements that alter photographs while they are being taken. A flash adds light that wouldn’t naturally be present, filters can be implemented to add contrast or obtain special lighting effects, and even grease or pantyhose can be placed over the lens to produce a soft-focus effect to hide blemishes on models. So, the question isn’t if images are being doctored; it’s a matter of what level is acceptable.

  25. Nick Tavel permalink
    June 10, 2013 7:14 pm

    Photoshop is not the issue in this country and in our society. The problem is how people se t and how they take advantage of it to prove their point and make things “disappear” if they do not look or seem the way they want them to. By them I mean the journalists who are in charge of releasing them to the public.
    In the future we can expect to keep seeing journalists using photoshop and other photo enhancement products to alter the photos. If someone alters the pictures they are altering what is real and what is true. Journalists cannot do this, if they keep on altering them we, as readers, are going to stat not to believe in them. When this happens pictures and photos will lose credibility and what was once the most direct and strong source of evidence will turn into another “It might be, but then again it might not be…”
    Journalists have to have a certain degree of honor and honesty when taking and altering these pictures so we an keep on trusting them with what they show us.

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