World Press Photo Alters Post Processing Rules in Light of 2012 Controversy


In light of the heated debate over post-processing sparked by the winner of World Press Photo of the Year 2012 award, the Amsterdam-based organization has chosen to implement some rule changes before it asks for this year’s entries in a couple of months time.

According to the British Journal of Photography, World Press Photo isn’t taking any chances when it comes to post-processing this year. Paul Hansen’s Gaza funeral procession, which won last year’s prize, caused the organization a major headache, forcing it to go so far as to launch an official investigation complete with forensic imaging experts.

In the end, the photo was found to be legitimate and not a composite; however, the forensic experts used did admit that Hansen’s photo had seen “a fair amount of post-production, in the sense that some areas [had] been made lighter and others darker.”

A screenshot of the blog post by forensic analyst Dr. Neal Krawetz that accused Hansen of submitting a composite.

A screenshot of the blog post by forensic analyst Dr. Neal Krawetz that accused Hansen of submitting a composite.

That information — along with many published opinions like this one, which lamented the fact that contest winners “look like movie posters” — has convinced the organization to implement some rule changes this upcoming year, a fact confirmed by World Press Photo managing director Michiel Munneke.

“We have evaluated the contest rules and protocols and examined how to create more transparency, and we have changed the procedures for examining the files during the judging,” Munneke said by way of a press release. “We will announce further details when the 2014 Photo Contest opens for entries later this year.”

The “bottom line,” according to Munneke, is that the organization “will need to be able to rely on the integrity and professionalism of the participating photographers.”

(via BJP)

  • dbur

    This is impossible. In this case you are just allowing your manipulation to be done by some engineer who wrote the firmware in your camera. What’s so bad if I take a raw instead and make the image look the way I think I saw it?

  • dbur

    Yes they should ask for the original raw along with the submission as evidence actual subject material has not been altered. Can you fake a composite into an original raw? I assume it’s possible but haven’t heard of any tools to do it. I don’t think the ability to create those tools are in the skill set of many photographers.

  • ganges

    Thats correct if you do everything on auto…In manual mode you have the tools to replicate what you are seeing, but that was never my original point… There is nothing wrong with post production.. I use it at times myself..But changes should be acknowledged. If all you are doing is trying to make the photo look like what you saw, that is one thing…But that is not how it is always used.. Folks put color in sky that wasn’t there..There are many ways to deceive. But its not deceit if acknowledged.. I don’t know if their processes have changed, but Audubon Magazine and others have always turned away any photo that has been altered after the fact. If you know how to use your camera to its fullest extent, there is never any need to post process unless you need to change something.. Again, I’m not against post-processing, I use it at times, but never hide the fact that I did.

  • greenarcher02

    That’s a little extreme… Haven’t heard of faking a composite into a RAW either.

  • dbur

    Sorry no. Manual mode still produces an output designed by a camera engineer. There is an algorithm to convert the raw to a jpg that makes many decisions for you based on someone else’s judgment who is far removed from the actual scene of the photo, with relatively few knobs for you to tweak to your taste. Magic can be worked on a raw to bring out elements that are in fact there, but are lost by in camera jpg conversion. In this manner you can produce an output much closer to what your eye actually saw at the scene. I have may images proving this to me over and over again. I don’t consider any of them (with a few exceptions) to be a dishonest manipulation of the photo, since I am only bringing out content that is actually there. So from a photographic honesty viewpoint post processing is no different than in camera processing, unless you are changing original content to be something that was not actually there. I agree with you to that extent.

  • ganges

    Thank you, that was my main point again.. When a person has altered a photo by making it something that it wasn’t, it should be acknowledged..In the same way that if I buy a used car, and am told that its never been in an accident, and find out later that its filled with bondo. Its just a matter of honesty to the buyer to be up front. I am not going to take money for a photo under false pretenses..I have sold photos that I have altered, but I tell the buyer what I did.. And I believe the same should go for photo contests, journalism etc.. Whenever money is being exchanged… That said, most of my photos have not been altered.. They didn’t need to be.

  • LDHammond

    I suspect trolls who resented the subject matter gaining attention, and attempted to derail the award with these false accusations. Raw or not, it’s a tremendous. powerful image.
    As a photographer who began my career in analog, I am well aware of the myriad of ways in which I used to control or “manipulate” the final image- from choice of film (dictating contrast levels, grain and shadow detail) to exposure choices combined with processing techniques (ie. push/pull or not), to darkroom printing (paper grade/burn and dodge, rubbing highlights to bring them up in developer etc.) The digital difference is that it is now easier to obtain similar results, and less toxic to the environment and photographer. Not that I don’t miss analog- I believe we haven’t been able to match it, yet.