photo ethics



Photo ethics have to do with:

Manipulation: The use of digital or other means to alter the content of a photo.

Taste: Questions that arise regarding the publication of sensitive images, for example, those       depicting grieving people, dead people, or gory content.


Photo Manipulation Example 1: National Geographic

In this Feb. 1982, cover, National Geographic magazine manipulated a landscape oriented photo of the Pyramids at Giza to fit the vertical cover. They digitally moved the pyramid close together. The original photo (left) depicts the real distance between the pyramids. In the manipulated image (right), the pyramids are much closer, thus a misrepresentation of a geographic fact. The magazine later expressed regret for the decision.


Photo Manipulation Example 2: Newsweek

In its March 7, 2005, cover, Newsweek imposed Martha Stewart's head on a model's body. The magazine defended the manipulation on the grounds that it was a photo illustration not a photo, in addition to a credit mentioning the composite in the table of contents on page 3 of the issue. Initially, Newsweek credited the wrong photographer and had to post a correction. Read more here and here.


Photo Manipulation Example 3: TIME

The June 24, 1994, TIME cover carried a manipulated version of the famous O.J. Simpson mug shot. The darkened version caused an uproar over the racial implications. TIME replaced the image. Read more here.


Photo Manipulation Example 4: The Los Angeles Times
This March 31, 2003, front page photo on the Los Angeles Times (right) was a digital composite of two unaltered photos takes seconds apart (left top and bottom). The Matching colored circles indicate the duplications. The photographer was fired and the paper acknowledged the error soon after. Read more here.


Photo Manipulation Example 5: Newsweek
On the Dec. 1, 1992, cover, Newsweek ran a photo of an Iowa couple, Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey, who had just become parents to a set of septuplets after fertilization treatment. TIME also ran a photo of the couple on its cover. However, unlike TIME, Newsweek digitally altered Mrs. McCaughey's photo to straighten and brighten her teeth. Read more here and here.


Photo Manipulation Example 6: The Charlotte Observer

This 2003 photo (bottom left) depicts burning, a Photoshop technique used to darken image backgrounds. Charlotte Observer photographer Patrick Schneider used burning to darken the background of the photo (compare to the original image at top left) in order to emphasize the emotion on the firefighters' faces. He was suspended for three months and had to forfeit three photography awards. He was later fired in 2006 after he manipulated another image of a firefighter (right), this time to darken the orange background and brighten the Sun's halo. Read more here and here.



topics | Home