The Washington Post raised some eyebrows last Friday after running an uber-saturated front page photo with the caption stating that it was “a composite created by taking several photos and combining them with computer software to transcend the visual limitations of standard photography.” After emailing the photo editor, Poynter learned that the image was simply an HDR photograph. While it’s a pretty common technique these days, some believe that it has no place in photojournalism,
Sean Elliot, president of the National Press Photographers Association, said, “HDR is not appropriate for documentary photojournalism.” The organization’s code of ethics say photographers should respect the integrity of the digital moment, “and in that light an HDR photo is no different from any other digital manipulation.”
“By using HDR,” he told me by email, “The Washington Post has combined different moments, and thereby created an image that does not exist. The aircraft visible in the final product was not there for all the other moments combined into the final, and that alone simply raises too many questions about the factual validity of the actual published image.” [#]
What complicates matters is that many new cameras (e.g. Nikon D4, Apple iPhone 4S) offer HDR features that create single images from multiple exposures in the camera. The Washington Post published a response to the controversy yesterday. Do you think HDR is an appropriate technique for photojournalists to use?
Here’s a fascinating video in which Italian photographer Ruben Salvadori demonstrates how dishonest many conflict photographs are. Salvadori spent a significant amount of time in East Jerusalem, studying the role photojournalists play in what the world sees. By turning his camera on the photographers themselves, he shows how photojournalists often influence the events they’re supposed to document objectively, and how photographers are often pushed to seek and create drama even in situations that lack it.
You might start looking at conflict photos in the news a lot differently after watching this.
You’ve probably heard the expression “It’s the photographer, not the camera”, but apparently Nikon — or at least one of its PR people — hasn’t. A few hours ago the company updated its Facebook page with,
A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?
Needless to say, the post was met with quite a bit of disagreement in the comments. Read more…
Update: Erin from Reuters contacted us informing us that this is in fact a genuine, non-manipulated photograph. Here’s a good explanation of why it’s real.
Reuters published the above image as an Editor’s Choice photo yesterday, and almost immediately readers began leaving comments questioning whether the photograph was Photoshopped. The debate soon spread to other websites, including Reddit, and it appears that the photographs has since been taken down (though it can still be seen in its original slideshow from last week). Read more…
Have you ever wondered whether hall of fame athletes from decades ago would still find success if the played their sports today? How about the same question, but applied to photographers? Would the historical greats of photography be brilliant across all ages, or were they simply pioneers and ahead of the curve in their generation? If they were just starting out today, which of the famous photographers throughout history do you think would still become renowned in the present day, and which wouldn’t?
Photography has almost always been in crisis. In the beginning, the terms of this crisis were cast as dichotomies: is photography science or art? Nature or technology? Representation or truth? This questioning has intensified and become more complicated over the intervening years. At times, the issues have required a profound rethinking of what photography is, does, and means. This is one of those times. Given the nature of contemporary art practice, the condition of visual culture, the advent of new technologies, and many other factors, what is at stake today in seeing something as a photograph? What is the value of continuing to speak of photography as a specific practice or discipline? Is photography over? [#]
The videos run a total of 5 hours altogether, so you’ll need to set aside a good amount of time to chew through the talks. You can also find transcripts of the sessions and more information about the experts here. Read more…
In April of last year, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art held a two day summit on the topic of “Is Photography Over?“. The panel discussions from the summit featured some pretty notable names from the industry, and generated quite a bit of discussion once they were shared online. In response, Conscientious editor Jörg Colberg made this humorous tongue-in-cheek video introducing a new color coded threat level advisory system as a quick and easy way of staying up to date with how over photography is.
The rise of microstock and the fact that anyone with a camera can sell cheap photos has done a lot to devalue stock photography, but is the same thing happening to the photojournalism industry? Paul Melcher says that the industry is headed in that direction:
Forget the photo agency as an agent of talented photojournalists. The key now is to have a lot of contributors worldwide and hope that one will be at the right place at the right time. With photographers everywhere chances you will get the right image at the right time will increase, like buying a lot of lottery tickets.
In the film age, the cost of film, processing, shipment was too prohibitive. Now, you can receive and store million of images for a buck or two.
[…] Thus, taking a queue from the microstock model, photojournalism is now switching to the volume based model. While profitable for a photo agency, it is devastating for photojournalism and photographers themselves.
The story is the same: as technology makes photography and the distribution of photographs easier to do, the buyers of photographs win and the producers of photographs lose.