Thursday, March 4, 2010

World Press Photo - Disqualification of Image

For World Press Photo 2010, the bar has been raised to a high level with the new requirement of the submission of RAW image files for review alongside any image that the judges suspected were excessively manipulated. Below is the collection of images for review:

The DQ'd entrant, Stepan Rudik wrote over at PetaPixel (here) in part "...I do NOT argue the decision of the jury...." and then he goes on to attempt to justify the alteration he made, and then hopes " I believe this explanation is important for my reputation and good name as a reportage photographer."

(Continued after the Jump)


A quick search on Google for "Stepan Rudik" turns up all manner of listing regarding this issue, so, good luck getting your good name back.

Rudik cannot hold out this image as reportage, but rather, as an illustration. He created digitally what he wanted to see and not what was actually captured. Did the manipulation change the content of the image? No, I think that the crop did (yes, allowable), and he really mis-treated the image with the excessive vignetting, over-contrast, and so on. Frankly, I think he did more of a disservice to the honesty of the image with the over-manipulation than he did with the removal of the shoe, but, unfortunately, that over-manipulation seems to have been allowable.

Rudik damaged not just the integrity of the image, but of himself and his honesty, but also the integrity of photojournalism.

Digital manipulation is going to be a very slippery slope, and the honesty of what we capture must be a paramount consideration, not chasing the self-aggrandizement in a photo contest.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the judges did like the processing and overall look, They just didn't like the shoe removed.
The real problem is not the photo or photographer, its the judges. Next time check the raw files before accepting and awarding the image a price only to remove it and tarnish the photographers name.

JeffH said...

I think this whole issue is overblown and frankly ridiculous. As John stats, cropping and other modifications such as converting to B&W, adjustment of contrast and addition of vignetting, all allowed mind you, dramatically changes the context, mood and message of the image. Removing the shoe in the background, which appears as a small white blotch in the final image, hardly effects the integrity or message of the image. The photographer could have just as easily moved over the the left 3 inches and the shoe would have been hidden, yielding virtually the same image. It seems to me that the World Press Organizations rules are misguided at best and down right hypocritical. Allowing dramatic alterations and cropping are no better worse or different than dodging out a distraction in the background of the image. They can't have it both ways. If they are looking for integrity, maybe they should require all images be shot in .jpg format and submitted as shot out of the camera with no external alterations.

Jonathan Levin said...

Personally, I could care less if a hand-retouch or foot-retouch or manipulation is performed on an image. It is and should remain the artists rendering/vision. Whether or not I like the image is another matter.

I guess I'm confused. I know that photography, is the art of illusion. The judges need to take things at face value.

Sure, the photographic illusion can be thrown into a place where it surely is a lie or fraud to gain some false monetary compensation. For example if I submit to an insurance company a photo of my nice Ferrari parked in my when in fact I have a '98 Corolla parked in there. Improbable, yes. (The idea of making enough dough in this business to buy a Ferrari in the first place!)

This is also a criminal act.

The above is one extreme, and we've all seen the other examples of Photoshop handy-work.

I just wonder about when a photo "illustration" crosses the line. What is that line and who draws it in the sand?

Jonathan Levin

Chuck said...

This is an absurb overaction by the judges. Removing a portion of the foot in no way distorts the information the image is conveying. To the contrary, if the photographer had left the protruding foot in I would have accused him of having a blind eye to distracting detail, just as if he had left a large dust spot in place. As for the heavy contrast and vignetting in the B&W image, it doesn't appeal to me and I think it's less attractive than the cropped color version--but that's an entirely different issue.

Unknown said...

This is why I long ago switched from photojournalism to stock photography, IMO:

1. one can realize significant $$ with all 3 versions of the above photos & not even enter a contest
2. one's photos have greater chance of changing the world for the better

Anonymous said...

I am dumbfounded by the stupidity going on here. The guy has simply removed an almost invisible foot for aesthetic reasons, not to mislead or change the story or whatever. What if it had been a carrier bag blowing around in the background causing a distraction right before a decisive moment ? Should we leave that in too ?

The fact that cropping is allowed and B&W conversion (for there is of course NO truth in B&W) but that the retouch of a toe isn't is just pathetic.

I have long been a fan of Don McCullin yet so many of his war images were heavily processed make them mean dark and moody. I can't believe he would be pulled up for his post processing!

Now if this bloke had swapped someone's head, removed a killer in the background, added a gun, superimposed someone else, removed location then there would be a case, but honestly this seems extremely petty.

Unknown said...

I agree with you John, in the over manipulation with everything from the cropping to vignetting way to much. From the original photo, it looks like he shot rather carelessly and casual then went back to his computer to create the image he wasn't able to capture at the time. Had he slowed down his shooting and done more thinking about his image making, he probably could have created the image he was looking for with a long lens.

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