Photojournalism or Movie Ad?

Continuing on my catching up … over at PhotoShelter, Allen Murabayashi takes on the question of over toning images, to the point they look like movie posters.

I fully support Murabayashi except for the first part of this excerpt:

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that there has been any manipulation that falls outside of the rules of the contest, but when images cease to look real and to be overly retouched, we have a veracity problem. And if we subscribe to the common ethos of photojournalism (i.e. that we are trying not to deceive the viewer), then we have an increasingly enigmatic issue. This movie poster look reminds me of this article about Hollywood’s obsession with teal and orange. We have somehow come to believe that the images look better with copious amounts of Photoshop vs what is straight out of the camera.

I think it has fallen outside of the rules of the World Press Photo competition. The inclusion of the word “press” implies journalism, and none of the images he questions are journalism anymore – they are illustrations.

So what do we do? His suggestion that contests require submission of untouched original files is right on the money. What message do we send when we give awards to images that no longer reflect reality? That are impossibilities? That have become, at their core, visual lies?

My students occasionally complain that I spend too little time teaching them Photoshop, that other programs spend more time on it. They are absolutely right, I spend comically little time teaching it because it is a tool that scares me. I grew up on Kodachromes (yeah, I went there) – get it right in the camera and life is much easier.

Because no one will ever save democracy by sitting in a dark room pushing pixels around.

Mark E. Johnson

2 Responses

  1. I have always wondered about this because I know when I shoot a great image, it looks as though it’ll never be as “brilliant” or “amazing” looking as those in that article.

  2. This photo is such a non issue. People are freaking out because the printed version looks more contrasty and saturated than the WPP version. Photos come out of the camera without tons of contrast or saturation!

    I’d be much more concerned about the Washington Post photographer who cloned a ref out of a winning wrestling photo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment