All arts have always involved some level of manipulation; be it painting, writing, drawing, stone carving etc., they all involve manipulation. Creation involves choices and decisions and interpretation.
But the growing popularity of image manipulation (widely used in the magazine industry) has raised a few concerns as to whether it allows for unrealistic images to be portrayed to the public
Last week, TIME published a photo story (Besieged by ISIS: Photographs From Inside the Syrian City of Deir ez-Zor) that raises concerns for me about objectivity. It’s hard to see the seventeen images or the words as doing more than serving the propaganda aims of the Assad government, making me further wonder if the sympathy for the Syrian government and the Syrian Army wasn’t, at least tacitly, the price of access.
A photojournalist has apologized for “mistakenly” sending a photoshopped picture of Vietnamese solders during the war to an international exhibition, saying it was a “big lesson” for him.
Most curators hope to get glowing reviews and popular acclaim when they mount an exhibit. Michael Kamber, on the other hand, is expecting some blowback for his latest show, “Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography,” which opens this weekend at the Bronx Documentary Center.
Setting a bounty on the treaty text turns journalistic mores on their head. In traditional newsrooms, the idea of offering a cash incentive for the leaking of confidential documents is anathema. But WikiLeaks, like other media disrupters, leaves us no choice but to reconsider this prohibition. If journalism organizations refuse to do so, they relegate themselves either to secondhand reporting on documents obtained by those outside journalism or to being left behind.
Though it purported to give an unbiased look at the recent violent unrest in each of the titular countries, Material Evidence stunk unmistakably of pro-government propaganda. The Ukraine section of the exhibition broadly depicted all Euromaidan protesters as neo-Nazis, and several of the Syrian photos were provided to organizers by the Syrian government itself.
I came across two thought-provoking image series one day last week. Each one was technically superb, the result of painstaking work by talented and committed photographers. Both dealt with difficult and contentious issues, of (sexual) exploitation, rural isolation and social marginalization. Both were ‘documentary’ projects, made by photojournalists. However one was ‘fact’ but presented as ‘fiction’, the other ‘fiction’ but presented as ‘fact’.
“We need rules that are understandable and practical for photographers, for agencies, and everyone interested in the image in general.”
There is a struggle going on in documentary photography between proponents of journalistic ethics and practices and those who believe that new visual and storytelling strategies are needed to communicate effectively in the modern world. The controversies surrounding this year’s World Press Photo awards have amplified this debate.
This remains one of the strangest photography-related stories I’ve run across.
Photographer Sara Naomi Lewkowicz discusses her controversial documentary coverage of a domestic violence incident she photographed when she was a student at Ohio University
Shaw says the judges initially awarded Troilo’s entry 3rd Place, but then two of the four judges “became uneasy” with the project and asked Shaw to contact the photographer for more information and clarification.
Michele McNally, director of photography and assistant managing editor of The New York Times, offers this perspective: “The vast majority of the 20 percent were obvious deceptions – there were addition or subtraction of material, that was really evident.”
“Digital darkroom processing…is not the same as the old wet, analog darkroom,” said McNally. That is why the rules are outdated: “So much does not apply and we need clearer standards.”
Then I spoke to Canadian photojournalist Donald Weber, one of the judges for the World Press Photo Awards. He was a jury member at both stages of the process that selected Troilo as the winner of his category. Weber took a more philosophically complex view (or a sophistic one, depending on your stance). He described, in e-mails, how he shot the EuroMaidan protests in Kiev and saw the whole thing, with its costumes and its audience, as theatre on a vast stage. “The whole goddamn thing is staged, Gaza was staged, large news events by their very nature are theatrical … As a photographer, you have to spend time with a subject to gain trust, you have to earn their comfort and their freedom to allow you into their lives … so, there’s a ballet, a dance, a theatrical element to our relationship … Is this not staged? … The only photographer that is offering a pure image is that of a Reaper drone in Pakistan, flying 20,000 feet above, undetectable … That’s total neutrality. Is that what we want?” Weber points out that the “photo of the year” winner, shot in a private St. Petersburg apartment with the consent and collaboration of its two subjects, could easily have attracted the ire of what he calls the “fundamentalists.”
It was stated that over 20% of the finalists were “disqualified” for manipulation of some sort. Again, Kudos for making a stand. But without showing examples or defining exactly what was done that was considered egregious, you have actually done a disservice to the photographic community.
The decision to rescind the award came a day after a leading photojournalism festival, Visa Pour L’Image, said it would not show any World Press Photos this year to protest what it said were staged photos
the Mail’s editorial model depends on little more than dishonesty, theft of copyrighted material, and sensationalism so absurd that it crosses into fabrication
Photography is too important to be left to those who haven’t lived in our world. In a time when everyone with a phone is a photographer, there remains a clear need for a corps of professionals who make great pictures, tell important stories, and show life as it is to the rest of society
Photographer Giovanni Troilo’s controversial prize-winning entry to the World Press Photo competition is under new scrutiny today because of reports that Troilo did not shoot one of the images where he said he shot it, according to Lars Boering, Managing Director of World Press Photo.
A parallel trend to consider is how much photojournalism, including news photography, has upped the “artistic quotient” and become that much more interpretive and artistic form. If there has been plenty of discussion about this trend inside the “photojournalism space,” there has been very little of it in the context of how a more abstract and artistic documentary approach – one in which the depiction of gangbangs and sex in cars and obese people sitting in the dark or artfully posing in the dark again with guns — might be a concern to mayors or citizens of these town with access to this newfangled thing called the Internet.