LA Times doctors photo

The way I heard this story, an LA Times photographer doctored a picture so that a soldiers weapon, instead of being aimed at the ground, was aimed directly at civilians in a “menacing” fashion.

Boy my blood was boiling. In order to advance his own agenda, this photographer was willing to impugn the integrity and honor of a soldier to do it.

Then I saw the photos. http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/showcase/la-ednote_blurb.blurb

Big deal.

While it is dishonest at best to alter pictures and pass them off to the public as real, the actual content of these pictures, even the altered one, does not really bother me.

To have heard it, I think on ABC news on the radio, the picture was altered considerably.

Can we believe media outlets when they report negative things about each other? Let us never forget that it is a BUSINESS and they will not miss a chance to hobble one another.

We don’t have to believe media outlets in this case, since we can see the original and the altered photographs.

The photo should not have been altered, regardless of how little difference there was.

2wI know, but it was RADIO reporting it, and most people probably would never have bothered to find the pics online.

I agree that it should not have been altered.

This kind of thing happens all the time. National Geographic frequently digitially alters photographs for their covers, for example.

Should it be stopped? I believe the reason that people object is that they are accustomed to the idea that photographs represent objective reality. That was never true, and it’s especially not true now.

I don’t think there is going to be much of a debate here. The alterations weren’t substantive but they shouldn’t have been made especially for such an important story.

I totally agree that pictures should not be altered, but I would disagree with the Times’ decision to fire the photographer. A reprimand, in the present case, would have been more proportionate to the ‘offence’, in my humble opinion.

And I believe that NG no longer alters photos after that mess with the changed cover of the pyramids. I’ll check on their website to see if they posted a policy.

The first photo has more of that “Get Down” hand image, but the second has a much better shot of the guy with the baby.

The composite photo is a more powerful one, and, being a few frames away from the truth of the moment, probably not much of a difference in the situation. I think it wrong, though, and such composites should be banned in the name of journalistic integrity. The photo will sell better, but it isn’t the truth. Once you start to tamper with the temporal line of documentary images, where does it end?

I can understand enhancing the image within a single frame to brighten darker parts, but combining images should be off limits; it’s not accurate. I’d suppose the LA Times has guidelines for photographers; if this photographer violated that, he violated his contract.

If the beef is that TV news is ragging on a photojournalist for violating ethics, that’s a whole 'nother story. The cut/paste of TV news is a different game, and the pastes can, and are, altered in a myriad of ways. The photojournalist is held to a sticter set of ethics. I hope that doesn’t change, because it may be the last outpost of truth in reporting. If we start to see that a photograph may be a composite/doctored image, we will cease to believe in the truth of that image, and it won’t have any power at all.

I’ve worked as a photojournalist, and would hate to see the medium denigrated. The challege and joy is to be able to capture the “perfect moment” on film. From my experience(not as a wartime photographer, that is the ultimate challenge), it requires an immense concentration, and an ability to “be there” in a personal sense, while always also able to focus on the photo as a piece unto itself. What’s happening is constantly unfolding, and the art is to be able to be there at the right time, to capture that moment, and seek a bit of truth. That’s always been my impetus.

I wonder, though. Perhaps that art will not be the journalism of the future. Maybe it will be bits and pieces spliced together, for entertainment value over reality. Much like what the TV news seems to tell me these days. I hope so not.

Does that altered photo look like an obvious fake to anyone else - I don’t get how the photographer thought he could expect anyone to think it was real.

Actually, I think the soldier looks less threatening in the doctored photo. The gun looks more like it is pointing at the civilian in the original when the soldier is facing away.

In the doctored photo the gun looks like it isn’t facing the civilian at all, it’s pointing off to the side.

I personally think the photographer’s decision was based on the “action” value it portrayed.

I’m with errata on this one. If I wanted to make the soldier look bad, I’d just publish the actual photo on the right. “Soldier aims rifle at baby’s head”.

In the composite, the gun is pointing at no one that is visible in the scene.

I’m just left wondering why he altered the photo, really… technically dishonest, but it looks like his intention was to make a more interesting a composition rather than try to push any sort of propaganda.

I don’t think the altered photo is any more ‘sinister’. But it does tell a different story.

In the altered picture, it looks like the soldier is telling a man with a child to sit down, and using a weapon for emphasis.

To us, it doesn’t look like a big deal. But I wonder if the combination of the commanding gesture by the soldier and the ‘supplicating’ posture of the man with the boy makes a difference on the ‘Arab Street’.

In any event, the photo shouldn’t have been altered. I think you need a hard rule on editing documentary photos. If you can’t trust the photo record of historical events, you’re doing a big disservice to future scholars. It’s not a matter of the altered photo being ‘worse’ - the same rule should apply even to things like airbrushing out damage to buildings and such. Some day someone may be restoring a building and want to know when certain damages happened. The photographic record can help - if it can be trusted.

Documentary photos should not be altered, ever. I can accept enhancing contrast and brightness on poor photos, but not changing content.

When I first saw this is was apparent (to me) why is was altered.

In the first photo, the man with the baby is looking away. In the second photo, the soldier is looking away. The altered photo has neither the man or the soldier looking away. Nothing sinister that I can see, but not right either.

I dunno…both of the pictures distort the truth without a caption. They seem to indicate that the soldier is threatening the civillians, while he is actually warning them to get down…

Media distorts truth

Well, color me shocked.

Neither photo is particularly sinister, and I can see why the photographer combined the two. He was probably only given one photo to place in the paper, and the combined photo tells more of the story than the two separately. The Times was foolish to fire him, he obviously has the right instincts for telling a story visually.

The Times’ hard-line policy (which I doubt they apply to such things as contrast changes or after-the-fact color-balancing, though these are still “altering” photographs) ignores the fact that the media alters images every day. Out of dozens (or hundreds) or photos taken, they only choose a select few for publication, and the rest rarely see the light of day. TV news edits videotape to tell a story in the most compelling way… sometimes the “truth” is sacrificed to do so, yet I never hear of video editors getting fired for doing their jobs.

Ah well… the Times’ loss will be another (better) paper’s gain.

I agree that the soldier looks less threatening in the doctored photo. Because he is using his hand to stop them. I am disturbed they fired the guy for this, I would have thought a reprimand at most would do.

As I see it, the one on the right is a better photo composition wise. But it (unfairly perhaps) makes it look like the solider is aiming at the man-with-baby. The edited version corrects this perception.

Had the guy had a video camera, he would probably have been able to extract a frame that looks exactly like the bottom composite photo. Which makes me all the more uneasy about his firing.

I too would say that reprimand would have been sufficient for the reasons given by others above: the “agenda” in question doesn’t appear to have been political in the least. OTOH, I guess this was very bad publicity for the LA Times, which doubtless wants to be perceived as holding itself to the highest journalistic standards.

(I gotta wonder though if the Times or anyone else gets this upset when photos are retouched, say, to enhance celebrity cleavage. :wink: )

As to the OP, that’s right these are businesses and this kind of story probably sells. I’d also not be surprised to see this story come up in the future to “prove” the old “liberal media” canard.

He was nabbed when someone else noticed the same curve of some subject’s back in the photo.

Supposedly some editor zoomed the photo to 64X+ - yet it wasn’t easy for me to see any difference (albeit in the published photos).

It would not have been regarded fraud if the photogragrapher had called on the soldier and the father with the baby to pose – just so.

It would have been just as fake.