Getty Photographer Terminated Over Altered Golf Photo

Earlier today, Dallas Morning News photo editor Guy Reynolds noticed a strange relationship between two Getty images of golfer Matt Bettencourt at the Reno-Tahoe Open golf tournament. One photo featured a tight image of the golfer holding up his ball, victorious, after the 11th hole. The other image, vertical, shows the golfer in the same position, but with another person standing in the background, possibly the golfer’s caddy. Initially, Reynolds assumed the photograph was taken by two different photographers, from different angles. However, upon further inspection, Reynolds realized the photo was taken by the same photographer, Marc Feldman, and it appeared that the tighter image was actually altered to omit the second person.

Reynolds immediately alerted the Getty Images New York picture desk. Shortly after, Getty Images issued a mandatory kill on the image, alerting Getty subscribers of the situation.

Reynolds speculates that the photographer in this case, Getty freelancer Marc Feldman, probably removed the other person in the image for aesthetic purposes, and not necessarily to deceive anyone. However, regardless of what and why, the Getty Images policy, as well as basic photojournalism ethics condemn this degree of photo manipulation.

In an e-mail exchange with PDN, Getty PR manager said:

Getty Images actively advocates and upholds strict guidelines pertaining to the capture and dissemination of its editorial content … As such, when Getty Images was made aware of (the) altered image in our coverage of this event, it was immediately removed…from our website and a mandatory ‘kill’ request was sent to our feed-based subscribers. In adherence with our zero tolerance policy on photo manipulation, we terminated our relationship with freelance photographer Marc Feldman.

All this comes not two weeks after the Economist cover caused a buzz when the editors chose to omit the presence of Louisiana parish president Charlotte Randolph standing next to President Obama. Alas, it appears yet another photographer could not resist the temptation of Photoshop CS5’s content-aware fill. And in this case, it cost the photographer his job.

You can read Guy Reynold’s entire account about discovering the altered image here.