Manipulated Photos in Published Works:

According to the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics, it is considered unethical to manipulate or stage photographs to create a better picture-taking opportunity. Below are a few instances where photos have been manipulated or photoshopped to create a better and more aesthetically pleasing image.

Soldier in Basra, Los Angeles Times, March 2003

Soldier in Basra, Los Angeles Times, March 2003

This is an altered photo taken by Brian Walski, a veteran photographer for the Los Angeles Times. Walski combined two photos to create a more powerful picture that told a better story. The pictures were taken of a British soldier and Iraqi civilians in Basra after gunfire broke out. After this image was published in the Los Angeles Times in March of 2003, Walski was fired (Editor’s Note).

Victoria's Secret Revealed- Unretouched vs. Retouched Photos

Victoria’s Secret Revealed- Unretouched vs. Retouched Photos

For a long time now, there has been controversy over retouched photos of models in magazines. According to Trevor Dayley, a writer for FStoppers, in early 2012, Victoria’s Secret released “unretouched” photos of a bathing suit shoot. Above is an image of a before and after retouching shot of model Doutzen Kroes. Obviously the colors in the image on the right are brighter and more aesthetically pleasing, but if you look closely, you can see wrinkles and marks have been removed from Kroes’ face and body. Although it is ethical to improve color and contrast, is it unethical to enhance the look of the model so much? (Unretouched vs. Retouched Photos).

In 2010, The Economist’s deputy editor, Emma Duncan published a retouched photo of President Obama standing on the coast of a beach in Louisiana after an oil spill in the Gulf Coast. People criticized the magazine for cropping and editing out Charlotte Randolph because it gives President Obama a different image than if the other two individuals were in the picture. Without the cropping, the feel of the picture is so different. Emma Duncan justified her point of cropping the image for the cover by saying, “I asked for Ms. Randolph to be removed because I wanted readers to focus on Mr. Obama, not because I wanted to make him look isolated. That wasn’t the point of the story. “The damage beyond the spill” referred to on the cover, and examined in the cover leader, was the damage not to Mr. Obama, but to business in America” (On The Economist’s Cover, Only a Part of the Picture).

Ethics with photography can be very complicated as seen through the images and scenarios above. It is always import to maintain an ethical standpoint when it comes to journalism and news reporting; however, sometimes those ethical lines can be blurred.


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