Sac Bee Photographer Fired After More Manipulations Discovered

Last week we reported that the Sacramento Bee had suspended one of its photographers for splicing together a photo of egrets. After some further investigation into Bryan Patrick’s body of work, the newspaper discovered two more photos that had been Photoshopped. It immediately fired Patrick and published a notice:

After The Bee published a correction and apology online Wednesday and in print Thursday, editors reviewed a selection of Patrick’s work and found two additional digital alterations that violate The Bee’s standards.

[…] In a 2009 photograph of the Auburn wildfire that was published unaltered in the newspaper, Patrick subtly enlarged the flames in the photograph submitted for a winning entry to the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association annual contest. An anonymous email to The Bee late Thursday cast suspicion on that photograph.

NPPA president Sean Elliot wasn’t surprised by the firing, saying, “If he’s willing to move a couple of egrets around, if he’s willing to jazz up flames to make a photo more exciting, how do we know there aren’t more?… How do we trust the work?”

(via SacBee via Poynter)

Update: We’ve updated the post to describe Patrick as a “photographer” rather than “photojournalist”.

Thanks for the tip, Jess!

  • guest

    Oh noes, it’s one inch taller. 

  • Anonymous

    The level of “shopping” in the above photo is almost not worth the effort for what is already a pretty impressive pic.

    Waste of a reputation.

  • Flirty Farmhand

    Looks like he did some “Burning and Dodging”….get it? Get it?… Anybody?…

  • Zak Henry

    At least he removed that obnoxious logo in the bottom right corner

  • Jesse Yardley

    Did you hear what I said? Huh? Burning and Dodging! Too funny man!

  • Stephen Norman

    Goddamn, for what he did in the photo that got him canned it just wasn’t worth it. I honestly barely notice the difference in the frames except for the dodging that’s been done to bring out detail. I’d never have noticed the difference in the flames.

    Every trained photojournalist knows there is a strict code of ethics and cloning can become a firing offense VERY quickly. It was engrained in my mind on day one photojournalism education.

    I haven’t seen the other photos he’s suspected of altering but if they’re as subtle as this one I can’t get why he’d even take the chance for such a small difference.

  • Alex

    Jesus all he did was enhance the fire slightly to show people that an actual fire took place, this is ridiculous imo

  • Unreal

    OMG! Like! That’s funny!

  • 9inchnail

     But where do you draw the line? If he clones a flame to a different spot to show a bigger area engulfed in flames, is that still ok? How much manipulation is acceptable? It’s a thin line.

  • 8fps

    >Update: We’ve updated the post to describe Patrick as a “photographer” rather than “photojournalist”.< 
    Well, maybe "photoshopper" would describe it best.

  • Benicio Murray

    Now they wont have to offer him a retrenchment package. The paper is just looking for excuses to cull it’s staff, plain and simple.

  • kmflakstad

    Tell that to the Associated Press: from the “Images” section:

    “AP pictures must always tell the truth. We do not alter or digitally manipulate
    the content of a photograph in any way. The content of a photograph must
    not be altered in Photoshop or by any other means. No element should be
    digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph. The faces or identities of
    individuals must not be obscured by Photoshop or any other editing tool. Only
    retouching or the use of the cloning tool to eliminate dust on camera sensors
    and scratches on scanned negatives or scanned prints are acceptable.
    Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping,
    dodging and burning, conversion into grayscale, and normal toning and color
    adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and
    accurate reproduction (analogous to the burning and dodging previously used in
    darkroom processing of images) and that restore the authentic nature of the
    photograph. Changes in density, contrast, color and saturation levels that
    substantially alter the original scene are not acceptable. Backgrounds should
    not be digitally blurred or eliminated by burning down or by aggressive toning.
    The removal of “red eye” from photographs is not permissible. ”
    Do you find this ridiculous?

    How about manipulating the story that goes with the manipulated image? Would that be ok?There’s a not so fine line that’ll be crossed if we say it’s ok to manipulate stories and images like this in the news.

  • Mrbeard

    If he had deleted the original images after editing, he would still have his job.

  • Anonymous

    >Update: We’ve updated the post to describe Patrick as a “photographer” rather than “photojournalist”.<

    Maybe you should update it again to "ex photographer"

  • Iso

    If they’re not allowed to manipulate photos then why do AP photos on the web always look like ass? Like they save for the web quality 10.

  • THE Only

    WTF I guess only photographers would get this?????

  • Todd Johnson

    I do actually find prohibiting the removal of “red eye” from photos for AP ridiculous. That is enhancement similar to dodging and burning, and I don’t know a single newspaper that would accept running a photo with red eye subjects.

    Why prohibit it? Afraid in conceals the factual demonic possession of the subject? It’s stupid.

  • Todd Johnson

    We’ve updated the post to describe Patrick as a “photographer” rather than “photojournalist,” because we’re too L33T of a group to give him the privilege of having the title “photojournalist” since he’s been fired for Photoshopping. Even though that’s the appropriate term for a photographer who makes a living taking shots for news and feature stories for a journalistic publication. Much as we would expect an editor fired for adding creative license to a news story to be referred to as “employee”, rather than “editor.”