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!

  • David Meyer

    Ha! But which way of dodging and burning is allowed? Because I use like 4 techniques just for that. And I can think about a few more ways to achieve that effect. How much is to much when it comes to changes in density, contrast, colour and saturation levels is too much? Which photoshop techniques are allowed? Which ones in Lightroom? Which in CaptureOne? If I crop the photo to exclude a person I don’t like, is it still on the list of the retouching techniques which are allowed? And what with that red eye removal? I never used any tool for that, but isn’t it generally changing the saturation combined with burning?
    But, issues of philosophical nature aside, when I did stuff for press, there was just white balance, global contrast / brightness adjustments, crop and minimal sharpening. The thing is that you don’t really have the time to alter the photos beyond what can be done on a whole batch if the story goes live in a few hours.
    I don’t really get why he did this. I mean it wasn’t like the images suddenly gained some more artistic value or catered to the needs of his clients and the world is full of helpful people who will happily and anonymously point things out.

  • william krummeck

    cant see the difference in the the flames but the sun is yellow-er and the sky bluer in the bottom photo. Also the man’s feet and the pavement around his feet are lighter in the second photo. There is probably a lot more.

  • Elisabeth

    I remember hearing how war photographers used to use the same bodies for many photographs and just moved them around and changed their uniforms. When is someone going to call them out and declare all those photos as phony? No one knows and may ever know when a soldier is face down and the scenery is just trenches, mud, barbed wire… or western wilderness and not yet states united… or union and confederate soldiers being switched. This has been going on for a long time, only to worse extremes.