Dropped Getty Photographer Says He Made ‘Fatal Mistake’ in Sending Golf Photo

Freelance photographer Marc Feldman lost his job when Getty Images discovered that he had sent in an altered golf photo for distribution. But Feldman says that it was all an innocent mistake.

Feldman says he was in the press tent after the event, reviewing some photos. The golfer in the image, Matt Bettencourt, and his caddie came by to look at photos as well. The caddie had suggested that the photo would look better without him in it, and Feldman demonstrated how easily he could be removed.

The photographer said he thought he saved the altered image on his desktop, but somehow accidentally transmitted the image along with his final images to Getty.”I certainly did not mean to send both of them to Getty,” he told Guy Reynolds, the Dallas News photo editor who originally blew the whistle on him. At the end of the day, Feldman was missing more than the caddy. Feldman said:

I understand Getty has a reputation to uphold. I certainly don’t blame them for letting me go. …I know the ethical standards for editorial clients. I just wish my long relationship with them didn’t have to end like this … Sometimes you make a mistake and it’s fatal. I made a fatal mistake.

Feldman, 61, has been an editorial photographer for 26 years. He also said:

I certainly did not mean to send both of them to Getty. …There was absolutely no intent to pass this off as a real image. Only a moron would have sent both, and I would’ve done it a lot better too.

While the fact that he sent both images which eventually incriminated him also give him a pretty good argument that this was all an embarrassing mistake, the last part of his statement is slightly unsettling. If he had only sent the second, doctored crop, and done a neater job, apparently none would be the wiser.

Nevertheless, Feldman insists that it was an honest, albeit “fatal” mistake.

(via PDN)

  • Donovan Rekanize Fannon

    Naw, I don't think he meant the last statement as sinister as you're surmising… It's just Photoshop pride. He just meant “don't judge my ability w/ Photoshop with this image, ethics aside.” since no one likes to be assessed on work they half-assed strictly for demonstrative purposes.

  • Nikhil Ramkarran

    I agree with Donovan, that is the conclusion I drew also.

  • hyperyoda

    he should not have been fired! GETTY YOU SUCK!

  • hyperyoda

    he should not have been fired! GETTY YOU SUCK!

  • 3Horn

    Generally I'm against almost all manipulation in press photos, but I think this one is different. The blame should go to the editor, who looking at both images decided to use the manipulated one.

  • Mouring

    Have to agree with the caddie… The picture looks a lot better without the distraction.

    As for Getty's decision… *shrug* It is a mixed mag to me. I can see how allowing the removal of someone who is not critical to the focus of the image could leave the door open for wondering what other things have been tampered with.

    However a part of me pretty much wants to yell, “Umm.. DID IT CHANGE THE NEWS WORTHY OR FACTS OF THE IMAGE?” Which clearly it didn't.

    Guess there is a reason why I'll never pretend to even fain interest in being a news photographer. =)

  • JessicaLum

    True. The fact that it's not the greatest photoshop job adds insult to injury… but at this point, maybe he should have just have left that out of his statement.

  • JessicaLum

    Right, it's pretty much the same issue that came up with the cover of the Economist, though much less weighted by political implications.

  • aled

    When you apologize for something like this in writing you have to be so careful that your wording is absolutely perfect, leaving no room for misinterpretation. Normally I would have sided with the photographer but after his statement, I have to say I think he was rightly fired and disgraced.

  • Hrunga_Zmuda

    I think characterizing his last satement as sinister is a stretch to say the least. Considering his background, I have doubts he did that intentionally. I know how in a rush things can happen that one doesn't mean to happen.

    And what about the Getty editor who posted both pictures? That was kind of lax as well. Not necessarily a firing offense, but I have to wonder if Getty jumped the gun here by judging too quickly.

    Did they investigate this photographer's other images for evidence of manipulation? In similar incidents in the past, I remember publications finding such a manipulation and checking the photographer's other work to see if it was something they had done before.

    I think Getty should give him his job back unless they have good reason to think that he did it intentionally. Of course, with the state of the industry right now, Getty no doubt has little trouble finding talented photographers to do the work. But there is also a thing as loyalty.

    I'd like to see a more in-depth look into this incident. A man's career is being destroyed. Maybe unfairly without due regard for the real ethics of this situation.

    For the record, I'm a photo editor/photojournalist and I would never tolerate the intentional manipulation of an editorial photo for any reason.

  • Dennis Marciniak

    It's good to see that press is taking control over this problem in the photojournalism industry.

  • Milkshaker

    The guy is lying, it is the classic cover story of those who get caught.

  • Slipdisc

    Live and learn. It was probably worth it for him to throw a 20+ year career away.

    –John Hammond – I don't blame people for their mistakes, but I do ask that they pay for them.

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  • Nicole

    I don’t think he’s lying. It’s obvious that he did that Photoshop work quickly. If he was trying to cover it up he would have done a better job. As a professional photographer, I’m sure he could have done a MUCH better job retouching.