The World Press Photo Organization announced the World Press Photo of the Year went to Mads Nissen of Denmark, but the story evolving today is around the disqualification of 20% of its contestants for excessive photo manipulation. As you can see, photojournalism in the digital age is begging a new question — what are the rules and ethical concerns for a digital photograph in modern photojournalism?
Manipulation of a photograph for minor exposure corrections and color are an acceptable edit in digital photojournalism, which was also the case in film photography when minor corrections were made by technicians to make a photograph publishable.
I think there is a fine line between what photojournalism is and what a photograph becomes when it is manipulated past minor corrections. Photojournalism is supposed to be faithful to the truth and reality of a story captured in a powerful or provocative way. Photographs with heavy image manipulation is work that shows the creative vision of the photographer.
They are both amazing genres of photography, however they are different. With heavy image manipulation it is more like a painter’s canvas, while documentary photojournalism strives to stay true to the narrative being told without changing much.
The New York Times is running a piece today that debates the rules and ethics of photojournalism. It is a future topic I plan on examining in Precise Moment, so stay tuned for more on the issue.
I would love to know your thoughts. Were the judges in the WPO jury right in disqualifying images because elements were added/taken out of the photos in post?
Read more on World Press Photo 2015 awards by clicking here.