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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Photograph Is Digitally Altered
Andrew Craft, Photographer
Fayetteville | NC | USA | Posted: 5:24 PM on 04.05.07
->> Late today one of the editors of the Toledo Blade confirmed what many had suspected, that a published picture by staff photographer Allan Detrich had indeed been digitally changed.

http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2007/04/toledo01.html

When will photographers learn.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 5:41 PM on 04.05.07
->> http://www.allandetrich.com/resume.htm

Wow. He's been doing this for a very long time. It is a shame that a mistake like this will cause people to scrutinize everything he's ever done...and will do in the future.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 5:42 PM on 04.05.07
->> Note that when I say "this" I mean "this profession". Just noticed that it could be interpreted another way.
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Andrew Smith, Photographer
Ross-shire | UK | Scotland | Posted: 5:49 PM on 04.05.07
->> This causes some concern to me as I've made edits like that. I'll be the loudest voice arguing for honesty in all aspects of journalism but on several occasions I've removed distractions from the foreground/background of photographs. I don't believe I was being dishonest.

Regarding the "missing legs" photo, I can certainly imagine making that edit myself. My opinion right now, although I'm open to persuasion, is that the edit doesn't change the truthfulness of the photo because the legs aren't relevant. Would it be dishonest to clone out a discarded drinks can? What about a light-coloured pebble that was going to look like a printing error? What if a sensor dust bunny had obscured part of someone's face and you had to 'reconstruct' it? As always there's a line to be drawn, the issue is where to draw it.

But all of this is largely moot as the photographer has apparently denied making the edit. If it is shown that he's lying then that's him out of the business for good, no questions asked.
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer, Photo Editor
Fashion Heights | OH | USA | Posted: 6:03 PM on 04.05.07
->> ..... Andrew ..... Are you saying you do this on a regular basis????
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Nik Habicht, Photographer
Levittown | PA | USA | Posted: 6:03 PM on 04.05.07
->> Andrew,
the concern in the U.S. is that once photographers/editors/graphic designers/start to remove "distracting and irrelevant" parts of the image, where does it stop? Who gets to decide what's distracting and irrelevant? And if it's o.k. to remove something irrelevant, is it also o.k. to add something irrelevant in?

You're correct in citing that the edit doesn't change the truthfulness of this photo. However, the edit also challenges the truthfulness of all of the photographer's images; some would argue all of the paper's images. Once we open the door to the deletion of components of the image, where do we stop?
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Jean Finley, Photographer, Photo Editor
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 6:09 PM on 04.05.07
->> Andrew -

Did you study journalism in college? Was an ethics class part of the requirement? Were ethics discussed in photo classes?

I'm not being rude here, I swear. I just think that some photogs might do this sort of thing without really knowing what the industry ethics are. Again, talking about editorial work only and not calling you out specifically.
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Will Powers, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 6:12 PM on 04.05.07
->> Andrew,
One of the first things taught in photojournalism classes, right after which button takes the picture, is that you can't, should never alter a photograph by removing or adding an element. The only permissible way to remove something is by cropping it out.

That is actually one reason larger newspapers require jschool. How many students has Dietrich taught this procedure to? I think it calls into question his teaching, too.
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Mike Morones, Photographer
Fredericksburg | VA | USA | Posted: 6:14 PM on 04.05.07
->> Call me a purist but relevance does not enter into the argument. In fact you have altered the 'truthfulness' of the image by altering the content. Period. There are no shades of gray here - it is a black and white issue.

When it comes to journalism, everything in your frame is sacred. You don't remove things that aren't to your liking and you don't add what was never there or worse yet, as in the case of Brian Walski, what you would have liked to have seen.

At most you crop but you certainly don't remove elements from a photo. That's photojournalism 101.
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Andrew Smith, Photographer
Ross-shire | UK | Scotland | Posted: 6:21 PM on 04.05.07
->> On a recent assignment I used a brick wall as a backdrop for a portrait. There was some chalk graffiti that I scrubbed off first. While processing the photo I spotted a chalk mark that I'd missed on location, so I cloned it out.

Was it unethical to scrub the wall clean?

Was it unethical to clone out the bit of chalk that I missed?

Was it unethical to use lighting? What about the coloured lighting that I used in the background? What about setting the camera's white balance to a specific temperature?

We could all come up with a hundred examples of how we capture 'untrue' images every day. It's only a problem if we wilfully deceive the viewer which I assume is something that none of us would ever do.

In the case of the missing legs photo, note that the Dayton Daily News photo had that horizontal yellow bar truly horizontal, making everything else lean to the left. So either the photog rotated his camera when he took the shot, or the paper rotated the photo. Unethical?

Each photo had a different white balance, or at least the colours were reproduced differently.

Different crops...

Different contrast...

:-)
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Joel Philippsen, Photographer
Huntington | IN | USA | Posted: 6:27 PM on 04.05.07
->> Andrew said, "I'll be the loudest voice arguing for honesty in all aspects of journalism but on several occasions I've removed distractions from the foreground/background of photographs. I don't believe I was being dishonest. "

Journalism is the gathering and distribution of facts or truth. If you alter that process (such as digitally removing "distractions") then it really isn't the truth is it? Think about that real hard before you consider yourself a journalist.
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Andrew Smith, Photographer
Ross-shire | UK | Scotland | Posted: 6:30 PM on 04.05.07
->> These are the edits that I routinely make to photos:

* For group shots I take multiple frames and combine them to get everyone looking at the camera with their eyes open.

* Clone out bits of rubbish, leaves etc from football pitches.

I've also removed a child in a bright red top from the background of a football photo, and I've removed an out-of-focus leg from the very near foreground of a telephoto action shot.

I think that's it.
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Wesley R. Bush, Photographer
Nashville | TN | U.S. | Posted: 6:32 PM on 04.05.07
->> Any cloning to remove anything other than image processor dust is unethical. It surprises me that there would be any doubt whether the disappearing legs is ok. It isn't. It should be obvious that it isn't.
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Jon Gardiner, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 6:33 PM on 04.05.07
->> Andrew,

Do the publications you freelance for share your view on "removing distractions?"
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Mike Shepherd, Photographer
Wichita | KS | USA | Posted: 6:34 PM on 04.05.07
->> andrew,

you've completely missed the point.

portraits, by their nature, are seen as "set up" images. you told the person where to look. you told them where to stand and how to act. some could argue that portraiture isn't photojournalism (and thus the reason many young photographers get burned at newspapers that rely too heavily on environmental portraits).

but removing any object, relevant or otherwise, calls into question your integrity as a journalist not neccessarily your abilities as a photographer. once the readers of your newspaper realize you lied to them by any alteration it calls into question anything you've ever done and ever will do. why would anyone trust you again?

journalists without trust have nothing.
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Andrew Smith, Photographer
Ross-shire | UK | Scotland | Posted: 6:35 PM on 04.05.07
->> Joel: "Think about that real hard before you consider yourself a journalist." Already thought about it, thanks, and I have no problem considering myself a journalist.

Sometimes in written journalism I'll remove a detail in the second draft because I've realised that it's irrelevant to the story. Does that make the article any less truthful?

I predict an onslaught of rhetoric in this thread :-)
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Jeremy Harmon, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 6:39 PM on 04.05.07
->> Andrew,

Your routine edits are all unethical.
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Wesley R. Bush, Photographer
Nashville | TN | U.S. | Posted: 6:40 PM on 04.05.07
->> Excluding a detail is different than changing a quote. Photographs are direct quotes.
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Matt Zimmerman, Photographer
Walla Walla | WA | USA | Posted: 6:49 PM on 04.05.07
->> I have to agree with Mike. Relevance should not enter in to the argument at all. If you capture an image with someone's legs in it or with bits of chalk that's the image you captured. If it is then changed because you decide you don't like what's there or it's not "relevant" you are deceiving the viewer because it is no longer true to what the camera saw and is no longer journalism.

Would you add something to a photograph because you wanted it there? If the answer is no then why is it OK to subtract something? Well the second you do that it automatically becomes a photo illustration and should be labeled as such. Whether you're adding something to an image or taking something that was there away you're changing the reality of what was actually there. Neither should ever be passed off as journalism in my opinion.
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Jason Orth, Photographer
Lincoln | NE | USA | Posted: 6:57 PM on 04.05.07
->> "I've also removed a child in a bright red top from the background of a football photo, and I've removed an out-of-focus leg from the very near foreground of a telephoto action shot."

Time out!

Not making an argument one way or the other - I'm only going to try to throw up something before Andrew gets skewered. But wasn't taking out half a person in a soccer game good enough for Sports Illustrated...

Since this is an industry read message board, how many would be as brave to openly question the ethics of a potential big name employer such as SI on the same issue as easily as you get on a single individual to broadcast your ethical position?

OK, back to the quarterly alter/don't alter debate...
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 7:27 PM on 04.05.07
->> I was once told that if I had "fixed" the red eye in a photo that I transmitted it would have run 5 columns above the fold on C1 in the Sunday edition. Instead they ran a different photo of mine on the section front and my red eyes got buried 5 column wide in B&W inside. The message was loud and clear, to me anyway. I've always wondered.... do other shooters 'fix' red eyes, and is it unethical for editorial use? Mind you that any print that I sell from my event company is re-touched as much as needed to make the image look perfect. But there are times when a few of the local papers will preorder images of athletes for a story. In those cases I had always made a point of sending the 'naked' files fresh from the camera, even after the red eye lecture. Am I wrong?
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Sean D. Elliot, Photographer
Norwich | CT | USA | Posted: 7:28 PM on 04.05.07
->> Mr. Smith (since another Andrew started this thread),

Were you not the individual who started another thread on this very message board about someone accusing you of faking a photo? Seems that person's accusation was not unfounded.

You are splitting hairs that we cannot as a profession afford to split.

once you admit to removing content from an image I cannot trust any image you create, period. How do I know where you draw the line between a mere esthetic distraction and a factual piece of content?

You cloned a person out of the background of a photo, that photo no longer accurately reflects what you photographed, it reflect what you wanted it to reflect, NOT THE FACTS!

Call yourself a photographer all you want, but not a journalist, at least not an ethical journalist I would trust.

Sean
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Jared Dort, Photographer
The Wu | AZ | usa | Posted: 7:28 PM on 04.05.07
->> Wow, this thread went from Detrich to Smith real fast.

Trent -

Thanks for sharing Allan's reply. That's some serious investigative reporting. His response makes sense, and I think we can all learn from it.

Andrew -

Read Trent's post. Allan cloned the legs out for a personal print. Judging by what he said, he had no intention of sending it in for editorial use. He knew that would be wrong, he made a mistake and hopefully he won't be hung for it.

Hopefully you won't be hung for doing it, either. Leave the poor little girl in the red top in the picture.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 7:32 PM on 04.05.07
->> Actually, I'm not sure what is more disturbing...that one guy cloned out some legs, or that all these papers published essentially the same shot. Looks like the freelancer behind the fence was the only one with any imagination!
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Jean Finley, Photographer, Photo Editor
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 7:39 PM on 04.05.07
->> Is this information from the NPPA story correct?

Detrich told News Photographer magazine, “I don’t know what to say.” Asked this morning whether he had altered the photograph, he said that he had not – and that he didn’t know what could have happened to the image.

I wish that Mr. Detrich would come on board here and talk about this. Whether it was intentional or unintentional, this negative experience could be turned for the good if it teaches.
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Jason Orth, Photographer
Lincoln | NE | USA | Posted: 7:42 PM on 04.05.07
->> "Photographs are direct quotes."

So if I crop an important part out - in camera, not Photoshop - by zooming in, am I taking the quote out of context?
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Tom Ervin, Photographer, Assistant
Palm Beach | FL | USA | Posted: 7:45 PM on 04.05.07
->> Jared where is Trent's post? I read it. Now i can't find it?
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Andrew Smith, Photographer
Ross-shire | UK | Scotland | Posted: 7:48 PM on 04.05.07
->> I noticed that the thread was showing 21 posts and when I refreshed the page it was 20 posts. Someone deleted Trent's post?
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Tom Ervin, Photographer, Assistant
Palm Beach | FL | USA | Posted: 7:55 PM on 04.05.07
->> "Post Master" or who ever is behind the curtain, can you give us an explanation for Trent's post being deleted?
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Jason Orth, Photographer
Lincoln | NE | USA | Posted: 7:56 PM on 04.05.07
->> I'm just guessing that it violated the rule about not posting on behalf of a non-member? That was one of the things that jumped out at me.
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Will Powers, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 8:11 PM on 04.05.07
->> I believe that Andrew said that the photo he referred to in another thread was a commercial job. For ediorial work it is unethical for the parents of a kid it isn't unethical, it is commercial. The girl in the red top falls into the same dispute. Was it for editorial use or commercial.

Jason- I would not alter a photo for SI. If SI chooses to alter the photo, then that is their ethical decision, not mine. Just send the check. They will get beat up by the NPPA.

From some of the quotes from Detrich, it sounds like he got caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Doesn't know what to say.

Not buying it.
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Jared Dort, Photographer
The Wu | AZ | usa | Posted: 8:16 PM on 04.05.07
->> I talked to Allan via email. I won't post our conversation, but I will post a link to the lastest story on the altering.

http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/newswire/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=10...
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Jeff Bennett, Student/Intern
Livermore | CA | USA | Posted: 8:23 PM on 04.05.07
->> From what I have learned over my few years of journalism is to think of a digital photo as if you were in a darkroom working on a print. The only changes you should make are dodge, burn, crop, and play with the contrast. Anything beyond that is an alteration in the photo and would then be conserided more of a photoillustration then a photo.
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Jason Orth, Photographer
Lincoln | NE | USA | Posted: 8:33 PM on 04.05.07
->> Will, I understand that. But the point of my question is beyond the technicality.

It's not about altering prior to sending and passing it off as "as-shot", it's whether or not you'll be willing to classify EVERYONE who made an (off camera) alteration as unethical and call someones character into question - whether it be a single individual from Scotland or a high-paying art director from SI, because BOTH have done the same thing.

But your point about not caring what they do with it raises another question: do you contribute to organizations whose continued actions, according to most of the posts on these issues, jeopardize the credibility of the profession?

Would you submit a photo of a Klan rally to the KKK for one of their publications, as long as they paid?

I think some people (not necessarily you, Will) are preaching absolutes from atop a slippery slope.
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Sean D. Elliot, Photographer
Norwich | CT | USA | Posted: 8:36 PM on 04.05.07
->> Where is the moderator when someone starts firing-off wild accusations like that one? Unless you've got the kids in the photo on the record making that statement that accusation is way out of line!
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 8:37 PM on 04.05.07
->> As someone who is a non-journalist, I have always failed to understand how anything photographers do "in camera" is OK, whilst computer manipulation is "unethical."

Not long ago, there was a major cargo spill on the local interstate, and our "award winning" metro paper published - you guessed it - a compressed-perspective telephoto shot of the resultant traffic jam.

Aside from the fact that this simple telephoto "trick" was a most unimaginative way to depcit the situation, it grossly exaggerated the pileup in a way that was very different from what the scene would have appeared to the naked eye.

Where was the NPPA? Why isn't this sort of thing unethical?
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Sean D. Elliot, Photographer
Norwich | CT | USA | Posted: 8:49 PM on 04.05.07
->> Chuck,

Nothing is absolute, and one person's "grossly exaggerated" is another person's "emphasized". How long was the traffic jam? Miles? Did the people actually stuck in it feel the telephoto compression exaggerated, or captured their sense of the situation? Use of ANY lens is going to distort what the naked eye sees.

The telephoto trick is one that needs to be watched as well, but so is selective cropping, dodging and burning for emphasis and for that matter what images get published.

You could find some folks of a particular political bent who would argue that the US media's ignoring of carnage photos out of Iraq is an unethical bias against reporting facts.

Clearly there is at least one person on this thread who thinks the manipulation in question is legit.

There has to be some allowance for the vision of the photographer to interpret the scene. That's accepted in any practice of journalism. But it's when you start blatantly removing factual information that you go over a pretty well established line.

Sean
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Nick Layman, Student/Intern, Photographer
Albuquerque | NM | | Posted: 8:53 PM on 04.05.07
->> Here is a link to the photo Madalyn Ruggiero took. This is the photographer that was on the other side of the fence. It is the pant legs that is seen in the other images.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/chi-070330bluffton-photogaller...,1,1926247.photogallery?coll=chi-sportstop-hed&index=2
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Tom Ervin, Photographer, Assistant
Palm Beach | FL | USA | Posted: 9:00 PM on 04.05.07
->> Remember Brian Walski ?

Please read the following story .

http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=28082


Looking back I wish I would of come to Walski defense . Not that he didn't do wrong but maybe he shouldn't of got fired. Punished but not fired.

If we look at Detrich explanation maybe we should revisit Walski outcome. I think Walski should be reinstated by the LATIMES. We forgive our politicians and
soldiers in judgement in Iraq. Why not Brian Walski?
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Evan Parker, Photographer
Valparaiso | IN | USA | Posted: 9:05 PM on 04.05.07
->> Chuck, you are really missing the point. Read through some of the many threads on this site on the acceptable ethical practices in the media and don't make someone spell it out for you with another post. If you're not a journalist don't concern yourself with issues that many journalists hold as sacred. There are plenty of threads about gym lighting and monopods waiting for input.
And as for your earlier post, while the freelancer may have had "imagination" to shoot from a different angle, they didn't have the frame of the morning players greiving infront of their teammates jerserys. I appreciate the risk taken under the circumstances, and the resulting image in the Chicago Tribune's Web site is powerful, but that in no way makes the other photographers lazy or unimaginitive. They chose to tell the story in a different way.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:11 PM on 04.05.07
->> Hmmm... not much one can say that hasn't already been said. Maybe it's a difference in cultures, or personal beliefs. It's tempting to "make an adjustment" like the kid looking directly at my camera the other night at the science fair.

Could I have "changed" his eyes? Absolutely. Found another shot that was stronger it turned out.

It would have been unethical for me to make the adjustment, and it would have flat out been wrong. Thing is, no one would have known - I could have gotten away with it. But I would have known.

I think the standard in the British Isles is probably different - sometimes a LOT different.

All I can say is, over here you don't alter the image. Period. End of story.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 9:12 PM on 04.05.07
->> a compressed-perspective telephoto shot of the resultant traffic jam.

If the photo remains unaltered, someone could COUNT the number of cars in the traffic jam, even if the perspective was whacked.

But if the photographer adds/removes cars in photoshop, the reader has no idea how many cars were really there.

That's the line.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 9:25 PM on 04.05.07
->> Evan,

With all due respect, I have every right to be concerned with journalistic "ethics" because, like millions of others, I rely on journalists for much that I know of the world around me. I assume it's for the benefit and protection of people like me that journalistic ethics exist.

Which is exactly my point, that I think *you* are missing: I think sometimes photojournalists think too much like photographers when deciding what is or isn't ethical, as opposed to "consumers" of news.

In any event, I'm not trying to take a swipe at photojournalists, and I'm sorry you've apparently taken offense at my question.

Chuck
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Jason Orth, Photographer
Lincoln | NE | USA | Posted: 9:32 PM on 04.05.07
->> David, back to Chuck's point: so if the photo included ALL the cars - no matter how long it was backed up, it's OK? What if the line was outside the field of view of their widest lens? Do they not take the pic because it's not a real representation?

That choice of altering the perspective was a technique used to convey the seriousness of the situation. Otherwise, why not shoot it wide? Or, is the cropped, compressed, whatever pic enough to put it into context? What if the compression/angle hid the fact that someone was dying in the middle of the jam and being treated by citizens?

Then, the seriousness of the situation is now underestimated.

It's the intent of the photographer - there is no inherent truth in a photo.
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Tom Ervin, Photographer, Assistant
Palm Beach | FL | USA | Posted: 9:38 PM on 04.05.07
->> Brian Walski interview on the photo that lost his job at LT. He is bluntly honest and very apologetic. He could of said anything and saved his job but he didn't.


http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000...
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Chris Mackler, Student/Intern, Photographer
Athens | OH | United States | Posted: 10:32 PM on 04.05.07
->> In response to Andrew's posts,

Visual Journalism within the U.K. Seems have a different approach to ethics, which is OK! As part of a program here at Ohio University, I studied abroad in Scotland this past summer in an intensive photojournalism programs. As part of this program, I spent a month photographing around the country, meeting real visual journalists within the country, and taking tours of several U.K. newsrooms. To say the least, it was an enlightening experience. Over there, I met a visual journalist at an anti-war protest more or less staging photos - posing people, telling them to burn such and such a flag because it "would make a better photo," etc. Needless to say, as an American photojournalist, I was appalled. But, while touring newsrooms and such, I discovered this was accepted and commonplace practice. I believe it was unethical, but it is not in others eyes. As photojournalists, we should realize that ethics are in the eyes of the beholder...whether you agree that ethics should be universal, is an issue that's up for debate. But there are some slight variations. Getting back to the original topic, I believe Detrich violated the ethics, whether intentionally or not, and should therefore be punished. Just my 2 cents....
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Trent Nelson, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 10:37 PM on 04.05.07
->> Okay, I probably violated the rule about quoting someone else. Hearsay or whatever. Here's a link to Allan's blog post about the incident:

http://detrichpix.typepad.com/allandetrich_picturethis/

-trent
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Sefton Ipock, Photographer
Anderson | SC | | Posted: 10:43 PM on 04.05.07
->> I don't know how quickly any of you work in photoshop, but I know that it would take me hours to do what Brian Walski did. I've always imagined him sitting in a tent in the middle of the desert on some ridiculous deadline while lassoing or clone-stamping that "image" together.

At some point, he must have realized what he was doing was wrong, and he didn't stop himself. He transmitted a lie that ended up on the front page of one of this country's newspapers of record. You don't get to the L.A. Times without ethical standards, and you surely don't get sent overseas for said paper without them either.

He was wong. Allen Detrich was wrong. And if Andrew Smith calls himself a journalist, he is wrong too.
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Matthew Williams, Student/Intern, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 11:18 PM on 04.05.07
->> The bottom line is just don't do it. It's not that hard. Andrew...I know people are probably taking your comments way out of context because these images have hopefully never been published in an editorial context (gulp), but if the photo needs that much work it's not a good photo. Taking someone out after the fact means you should have moved over or blocked that part of the frame with something in the foreground.

In addition, this is the first time I have ever heard using a telephoto referred to as camera trickery. I think that you could say of course photos aren't always or really ever what you see with the naked eye because your eye is much smarter than a camera. Due to aperture, shutter speed, etc. we can put the art and interpretation into the photograph, but that involves a great deal of skill to successfully accomplish.
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Chris E. Curry, Assistant, Photographer
Norfolk | VA | USA | Posted: 11:25 PM on 04.05.07
->> I remember a photographer once asked on the message board if it would be alright to remove a hand in a picture that he wasn't turning in for publication.

My advice as well as many others:

Just don't do it.

Don't get into the habit of altering pictures for either yourself or anyone else and you won't ever have a problem with it. Never will you have to worry about accidentally filing the wrong photo.

I wish photographers and journalists could put this to bed already and understand ethics and stop asking so many irritating questions. We've been over this many, many times and the same questions come up over and over again.

For the last time, please:

It's not okay. It discredits what we do as photojournalists.
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Jeremy Harmon, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 11:30 PM on 04.05.07
->> ---this is the first time I have ever heard using a telephoto referred to as camera trickery.


It won't be the last time you hear it.
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