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The Guardian is running the following story about AP photographer Narciso Contreras being hung out to dry for photoshopping an image.

The Associated Press has severed ties with a Pulitzer prize-winning freelance photographer who it says violated its ethical standards by altering a photo he took while covering the war in Syria in 2013. Narciso Contreras recently told its editors that he manipulated a digital picture of a Syrian rebel fighter taken last September, using software to remove a colleague’s video camera from the lower left corner of the frame. That led AP to review all of the nearly 500 photos Contreras has filed since he began working for the news service in 2012. No other instances of alteration were uncovered, said Santiago Lyon, the news service’s vice president and director of photography. AP said it had severed its relationship with Contreras and would remove all of his images from its publicly available photo archive. The alteration breached AP’s requirements for truth and accuracy even though it involved a corner of the image with little news importance, Lyon said.

This is the picture

ap

It’s worth noting that it was AP who wrote the story themselves. You can either read this as a press release or an attempt at transparancy by the agency. I’d say its a PR exercise in making sure you get the story out there the way you want it before anyone else does.  Most of all they are protecting the Pulitzer prize they won for photography in Syria to which Contreras was a key contributor. Note how they contacted Pulitzer BEFORE releasing the story (ass covering).

Contreras has this to say

“I took the wrong decision when I removed the camera … I feel ashamed about that,” he said. “You can go through my archives and you can find that this is a single case that happened probably at one very stressed moment, at one very difficult situation, but yeah, it happened to me, so I have to assume the consequences.”

It takes integrity to come forward and admit making a mistake. Investigations show this mistake was singular and took place in one of the most stressful and extreme environments anywhere on earth. The removing of the camera made little difference to how the photo can be read. It’s not a deliberate attempt to deceive the audience into thinking that something else was taking place than can be inferred from the pictures.  It’s a nod to the fact that above all else in photojournalism it’s not truth but aesthetic which  is valued. If this wasn’t the case it wouldn’t even have occurred to Contreras to alter the photo.

AP makes a big song and dance out of the fact that none of Contreras pictures that formed part of the Pulitzer entry were doctored in this way.  At the same time they’ve removed all of Contreras photos from their library. If this is the case, if Contreras photos are no longer valid, they should do the decent thing and hand the Pulitzer back.

What is really laughable is Lyon’s comment that ‘The alteration breached AP’s requirements for truth and accuracy’. I don’t know what kind of truth Lyon is talking about, but I do know, more often than not, the facts the audience need to form a balanced view are outside of the image. The lie is that agencies like AP would have you believe otherwise.

(c) NAthan Weber

(c) NAthan Weber

 

duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White. We specialize in digital storytelling.

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  • george

    If the removing of the camera made little difference about how we read the image why did the photographer erase it then?? Because it doesn’t make a little difference thats why!!
    The rules are pretty clear, don’t extract or add any element in a photograph. The photographer knew that and we all know that. It is rule number one of photojournalism. It is called integrity. And if you shit on this, then you are fucked.
    Extending the arguments about what AP or any other agency for that matter consider truth or not is not the question here.
    That would be for another post.
    To me this time is really easy. AP did the correct thing. What I can’t understand is how the photographer fucked it so big time.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi George,

      thanks for your comment.

      ‘If the removing of the camera made little difference about how we read the image why did the photographer erase it then?’

      In my post I suggested for aesthetic reasons. What do you think? You say it ‘it doesn’t make a little difference’. The photographer removed the camera, now he’s admitted it. Now he’s disclosed that what is the big difference that you are alluding to?

      Integrity is putting your hand up when you make a mistake. Integrity is dealing with this in the right way (and understanding the circumstances in which a mistake is made).

      ‘The rules are pretty clear, don’t extract or add any element in a photograph.’

      Are you sure about that? I thought it was OK to crop something out of a picture … Maybe you need to go back and check rule number one.

  • http://zenteno.photoshelter.com Hernan Zenteno

    Sorry but I don’t see any controversy here. Yes, no mercy for this kind of digital alteration of the image. This is a basic rule several times commented and with a lot of examples. The strange thing for me is why Contreras did it, he is not a novate and is more difficult and take more time erase this part of the photo that send the photo as it was taken. Photojournalism and street photography are the last kind of photography that remain, or at lest must remain, faithful to the essence of photography. I heard some colleagues started to relativizing the value of photojournalism saying that truth don’t exist. We couldn’t start playing this play because we ending discarding all because we choose some frame instead other. Or a lens instead other. Yes, objectivity doesn’t exist but honestly yes. One act affect the credibility of all in this profession. I applaud the decision of Contreras to reckon that he made a mistake. Must be a difficult decision but is the right.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Hernan,

      thanks for your comment.

      I don’t think anyone us disputing he made a mistake. What is questioned here is the way AP dealt with him.

      THANKS

      B

  • http://www.brianharrisphotographer.co.uk brianharrisphotographer

    Whilst agreeing in principle with AP’s decision here I have to say that EVERY photograph could be accused of changing the way it is seen simply by the expediant of point of view, camera angle and the way the image is cropped….would Narciso have been better off just cropping this image a tad tighter, if it had been shot on a slightly longer lens then the offending video camera would NOT have been in shot at all….I think considering the bravery exhibited by this man and his Pulitzer history Santiago Lyon should re look at this case and maybe have a stern word with this brave guy.
    3 hours ago
    When I started on the Indy in 1986, I used to shoot with very wide angle lenses to show the lies and pomposity on many supposed ‘news’ situations, certainly those set up by PR minders for their political masters or corporate clients…..did ALL the other photographers commit a photographic journalistic lie by presenting the given PR image as the truth…..? Did the ‘Wonderful’ Gene Smith present a truth or a lie when he used a double negative to make his image of Albert Schweitzer, did he present a lie when he presented ‘his’ truth with his powerful ( over lit ) Mercury poisoning image from Japan…..we all alter the truth somehow, just by being individuals with our own way of seeing the world….
    Just had a further lunch time think here….If Narsico is guilty of anything here, it’s either sloppy shooting, sloppy editing,or both…..over the past 40 plus years of shooting for local and national papers and agencies I have seen hundreds of times when photographers ( and many AP stringers and staffers are included here ) set up and contrive a ‘news’ situation, how many pictures come from the London sale rooms purporting to show the ‘final’ hanging, the final cleaning of what ever is up for sale…I take my hat off to all those photographers who ‘just happened’ to be walking by as they made their honest seen image of reality….in the real world it doesn’t happen like that….taking out a bit of a video camera in PS is not the way to do it….either crop the ‘negative’ or get in and shoot when the background is clear….but isn’t that as much of a lie as well, ie the videographer was there so why not include him….getting confused now…someone else take the baton please.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Brian,

      thanks for your excellent comment.

  • MeMyselfAndEYE

    “Photoshopping” is merely the most mechanical means of “adjusting” the accuracy of the photo. This whole affair is ironic in light of the photographic propaganda that spews from the Middle East daily, under the guise of “photojournalism.” Which is the greater sin- a gaggle of photographers egging-on a photo-hungry “resistance” fighter into an action he might not otherwise have taken, or removing a video camera using Photoshop? Those rare photos from the Middle East in which we see both the hordes of photographers and their subjects are the real photojournalistic shots.

  • John R. Fulton Jr

    Photograph altered.
    Photographer fired.
    Next.
    Next is the sticky problem of that Pulitzer Prize (PP).
    How DO they remove all his pictures from “commercial” sales yet retain the PP? They are definitely doing a song-and-dance on retaining the award. Part of the problem are the photography PP. I contend things started running afoul when they started accepting series of pictures for award consideration in photography. They ran further amuck when “team” entries were considered in photography. AP has done well with team entries. AP should hand back this PP and the award itself should go back to single pictures. Photojournalist Rich Clarkson once said to me that shooting a series is relatively easy. What’s hard is summing up a story in one picture.
    I’ve gone a bit OT so you are welcome to pitch this in the rubbish.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Nice comment. Thanks John.

  • http://www.john-macpherson-photography.com john macpherson

    I think this has the makings of a shambles. A re-reading of Pete Brook’s excellent analysis of your lower image of Fabienne Cherisma might be useful for anyone reading this blog, and interested in the issues it raises about the notion of where ‘truth’ may lie.

    In Brook’s conclusion he highlights precisely the issue at hand:

    Quote:

    “1.) There may well have been more photographers on the scene. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn so.

    2.) A couple of photographers mentioned giving others space and trying not to get in others’ shots and avoiding getting photographers in their frames. Why? If a situation is chaotic and journalists are part of that chaos, what does it matter if photographers or journalists are in the scene?

    3.) I am not criticising the photographers who have kindly given their time, thoughts and (often) emotions to this inquiry, but I am questioning the decisions at the photodesks of mass media. I usually only see images that implicate media/photographers when the story becomes about them, when they get injured or kidnapped. Photojournalists are either the directors of a scene or the embattled hero of a scene; they are never bit-part players.” End quote.

    Original article here: http://prisonphotography.org/2010/01/27/fabienne-cherisma/

  • Jamie

    The fact that so much can be done to news images without the audience or even picture editors being aware of it means that a huge amount of trust is placed on AP. Sure the AP rules governing how photos are taken and processed are somewhat arbitrary and situations can be misrepresented within the rules: wide angle shots work less well on the web so most images we see are a highly selected view. As such, the integrity of the photojournalist is important. However judging the integrity of the photographer is a subjective business and requires knowledge of the individual. Picture editors may be expected to make this judgement, news consumers can’t. The latter *do* understand the concept of rules being broken and, if AP continue to employ a photographer after they’ve broken the rules, the public will lose trust in them.

    I think we can assume that Contreras edited out the camera for aesthetic reasons and, in the specific case of this photo, this manipulation hasn’t caused any significant misrepresentation of the subject. So maybe this revelation doesn’t much discredit the photographer and we can feel he retains his integrity. However, even if his integrity remains intact, AP must protect its reputation in a decisive manner, so I don’t see what choice they had but to fire him. I admit it would be more honest to give up the Pulitzer but that would be a much more newsworthy event, drawing more attention to the incident and perhaps unfairly damaging their reputation.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Jamie,

      thanks for your comment. I have to admit I’m a bit perplexed by this:

      ‘AP must protect its reputation in a decisive manner, so I don’t see what choice they had but to fire him’

      Take a bit of time to read the comments on the Guardian. A lot of people clearly think it reflects very badly on AP that they sacked the photographer in these circumstances. As if sacking is the only option. As somebody else commented news shots are always being posed. Isn’t it likely that audiences would find this far more deceptive than what happened in this instance? If so, and we follow logic, then most news photogs need to be sacked.

  • D

    AP dealt with it well. They wrote the piece themselves and explained in detail why the photographer was dismissed. He clearly and incontroversially went against their policy.
    Removing a pretty big chunk of a photo is not a small thing and it does effect the ‘truth’ of a photo. It creates a slippery slope of trusting the photographer to remove what he/she considers ‘unimportant’ in the photo. In this case it’s a video camera, in another case it could be a weapon on the ground and that would drastically alter the meaning of the photo.
    When the viewer looks at photos they shouldn’t expect to see the overarching ‘truth’ – all photos are biased and subjective- but at least they should trust that whatever is in the photo itself is not manipulated. Otherwise we will start disgarding any and all visual information in front of us.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi D,

      thanks for your comment.

      ‘In this case it’s a video camera, in another case it could be a weapon on the ground’

      Or it could be a camel or an astronaut or an alien, except it was camera so maybe let’s stick to what actually did come out!

      What would be the difference in how the audience percieves truth is he’d A, cropped out the camera or B, burned it out? Presumably that would be fine because it fits with their policy?

      ‘When the viewer looks at photos they shouldn’t expect to see the overarching ‘truth’ – all photos are biased and subjective- but at least they should trust that whatever is in the photo itself is not manipulated. Otherwise we will start disgarding any and all visual information in front of us.’

      Actually I think the evidence doesn’t stack up. Audio is often edited. Cleaned up. Umms taken out. Phrases cut. Background sounds dimmed and yet there’s not a widespread distrust of documentary audio. Probably some healthy skepticism. It would make a lot more sense if we did question what’s in the picture more often. A lot of news photography is staged. Maybe even this picture. Audiences I think are more concerned by this then a camera being taken out.

  • D

    There is a big difference if he cropped it out vs cloned it out. Cropping out means a removal of information – the viewer can use his imagination as to what happens beyond the image. Consider it the difference between ‘agnostic’ – don’t know and ‘atheist’ – doesn’t exist. Burning out such a huge chunk would also be problematic for AP I think though not to that extent. Again it’s a difference of taking away information (in a very problematic way) vs supplanting it with something.
    But the main thing is that AP has a contract that all their photographers must obide by, and the contract clearly states that no cloning is allowed. You can go into philosophical discussions as to why burning and not cloning and that’s a valid conversation, but if you agree to work for a company and follow their rules then it shouldn’t be a surprise for being fired if the rules are broken.
    Just because a lot of information around us is misleading doesn’t mean we should add to that with impunity. We should try to change that and not excuse it.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      ‘Cropping out means a removal of information’

      Indeed. And that’s where notions of photography, ethics and truth unravel. We remove so much. We decide what the audience sees and then we call it truth. If you ask me that’s exactly what audiences should be questioning, not being satisfied because AP has rules.

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Contreras didn’t mess up. He came forward to say so. But I also think you’ll find that outside the photography bubble many people would conclude that AP’s response to the breaking of rules in very extreme circumstances was disproportionate.

  • D

    Outside of photography bubble people are unaware of the strict code of conduct that photojounalists should obide by. This is war photojournalism, being in extreme circumstances is part of the job. Processing doesnt take place on the battlefield, it’s after the fact and it’s a calculated decision, not just a stressed impulse.

    The intention here is clearly aesthetic. So to sum it up – In a war zone, in a very stressful and dangerous situation of photographing fighting and death, a photographer later decides to beautify the photo. That’s all that this decision was – decorative. So I cannot excuse it by ‘extreme’ circumstances.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi D,

      Thanks for your comment. Having worked in news and for many years produced documentaries for the BBC I think you’re misguided if you think at the end of a long hard stressful day most people make great decisions (that’s generally when a news tog will edit). Well maybe you’re built differently but my brain has done some really stupid, absurd things in those circumstances and I’ve never covered anything like Syria.

      ‘So I cannot excuse it by ‘extreme’ circumstances.’

      I wasn’t aware that anyone was asking you to excuse it? (unless you work at AP and it was your decision) Infact I’m not aware of anyone trying to ‘excuse’ it. The guy messed up. He was brave enough to front up about it. For you he should be sacked and his pics removed. But you know there are other ways of dealing with things then sacking people. Maybe you think photojournalists are such an untrustworthy bunch that only the strongest message will suffice, otherwise they will all be at it? Or that audiences are so stupid unless AP fire him they are going to presume every image might be cloned? Personally I would have made him cover celebrity weddings for a year …

  • http://Www.genelowinger.com gene lowinger

    Granted that the point of this controversy is not the image itself, but rather AP’s action taken in response to discovering that the image was manipulated with Photoshop. I have to ask myself why the alteration? Is the image WITH the video camera any less effective because of it? If so, how?

    The manipulation clearly changes the story of the image. With the video camera visible it’s apparent that there were other PJs present, and at least one had enought time to get close enough to the subject and set up a device. A device that records over time and is stationary assumes that the subject is going to remain in the same spot for a period of time. Not charging, not retreating. The still image without that video camera intimates that the PJ who took the photograph got close enough to take the shot of a very dangerous situation, and that only he and the subject were proximate. I’m not denigrating the PJ’s balls, but he didn’t need to take the video camera out to get my attention or respect. I’d bet that he did, however, think that someone at AP might think less of him, in spite of the Pulitzer work he may have done in the past.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Gene,

      thanks for your comment.

      ‘I have to ask myself why the alteration? Is the image WITH the video camera any less effective because of it? If so, how?’

      I think these are really good questions. You’d like to think they would form part of AP’s article about itself.

  • rob

    Your editorial is mixing apples and oranges. Your personal opinion on the AP or on the debate following Nathan Weber’s image in Haiti, have nothing to do with Narciso’s mistake. Yes, the photographer’s work is subjective: he/she can choose the lens, make a crop or tone the image… But that doesn’t make it ok to clone things out.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Rob,

      Sorry you lost me. What is the apple and what is the orange?

      Where in the post does it say it’s OK to clone things out?

      Maybe read it again.

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    “Personally I would have made him cover celebrity weddings for a year …”

    Dang, guy- I thought you said AP overreacted!

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      lol

  • Richard

    If he photoshops the video camera out of the picture, it’s dishonest, but if he picks the video camera up and moves it out of the scene before he takes the picture then it’s not dishonest. I don’t see how the two are different.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Richard,

      Very good comment.

      THANKS

    • Peter

      Well it is really not about whether or not a video camera was in the picture, but about the attitude of the photographer and the process involved.

      Photographers do routinely set things up for newspaper pictures, but that isn’t really news, more the celebrity froth which unfortunately fills most of our press these days.

      No photographer working for any major agency would dream of doing it for real news – nor would any agency use their work if they did so. For anyone to say he could have moved the camera just shows a total lack of understanding of the situation under which the image was created. You have to take things as they happen, as they are, and accept that things don’t always make perfect pictures. We all take pictures every day that would look better if we took that out or put that in with Photoshop.

      Proper news reporting is entirely dependent on the integrity of the reporter, and cloning out the camera was telling a fib. One can argue about the severity of the AP decision, but they had to take some decisive action over it. I think it was a sensible decision for AP as it was them that Contreras has deceived and anything less would have left them open to criticism and possibly damaged their reputation. But given the quality of his work other than this single lapse and his admission I’m sure he will place his work with other agencies.

      • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

        Hi Peter,

        Thanks for your comment.

        ‘No photographer working for any major agency would dream of doing it for real news – nor would any agency use their work if they did so.’

        Clearly, given the case, this is not true.

        ‘I think it was a sensible decision for AP as it was them that Contreras has deceived and anything less would have left them open to criticism and possibly damaged their reputation.’

        It seems to me that their handling of the situation has damaged their reputation. This is apparent if you read the comments on the Guardian.

      • Richard

        Thank you Peter. You reinforce my point very succinctly. Since there is no difference between physically removing an object from the composition and removing it through retouching, and physically removing the object was impossible, then retouching the it out of the picture should not be an issue.

  • http://ministract.com Tom McLaughlan

    The absolute madness of this situation is contained within one line of a Guardian article supporting AP’s decision: “The sad irony for Contreras is that if he had just cropped his image, everyone would be happy”.

    This isn’t a question of ethics – it’s about an organisation defending its commercial interests. To some extent that’s understandable but to imply that they had no choice in the matter is completely disingenuous. Oh, and returning to that Guardian quote, it could just as well have read: “The sad irony for Contreras is that if he had just kept his mouth shut nobody would be any the wiser”. But he didn’t – he spoke up. And now he’s lost his job. Where’s the incentive for others to show the integrity that he showed?

  • http://www.saul-sandraphoto.com Saul B

    Way back in the 80′s and early 90′s I worked in newspapers — I worship my days in this industry, so I’m speaking from experience.

    I question this whole premise of never changing, deleting a thing because it would alter the Truth. Let’s understand what the Truth is. Whenever we as newspaper photographers enter a scene, the Truth changes. Sometimes a little, sometimes quite a bit, but we become an element in the scene that alters it by our presence and how we act. When I was working at a paper burning in an object in a corner was common place, dodging out something in the corner also common place. Ethics were a huge issue for all of us back then too.

    Now if a person or an object that are essential to the story are deleted and/or cropped then I have a big problem with that because that is altering the Truth, the Essence of the story we were assigned to cover.

    When we light a dark room with a flash the Truth changes, when we light a subject or a group in a dramatic or interesting way, the Truth changes. When we use a wide angle lens and the perspective of objects up close become distorted and closer then they really are, the Truth changes. When we shoot with a wide angle lens, people on the edges will look heavier then in real life, and so the Truth changes. When we use a long telephoto lens to capture that play in the end zone or children in a playground, the Truth is partially changed because our eyes don’t see the real world up close like that with the background out of focus.

    So what are we talking about here? My belief is now and when I worked at papers, is that it’s essential to be truthful to the scene and the story, to capture the essence of the story, to be fair to the best of my ability and understanding of the story, to interpret my feelings when possible and appropriate, while completing my mission of telling the story to my newspaper audience.

    If a finger shows up in the corner of my frame, as it did in Dorothea Lange’s portrait of the Migrant Family, I would as all heck get rid of it because that finger has not a thing to do with the Truth. It may have been a distracting element in showing the Truth actually, which is why Lange got rid of it. Then again, Lange didn’t work for a newspaper, she was a documentary photographer with a point of view.

    The Essence – what is the most important thing we have to say with our images.

    I think that firing the photographer was deleting the video camera was way over the top punishment – again, 20 – 30 years ago, he could have burned that corner in and nobody would have been bothered by it. I hope A.P. reconsiders it’s decision, and rehires him in 3 – 4 months, and it’s point will have been made crystal clear.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      This is a great comment Saul. Better than my original post. Thank you.

  • Nicolas Tanner

    “but I do know, more often than not, the facts the audience need (sic) to form a balanced view are outside of the image.”

    This is so wonderfully precious and dim, it makes me want to dance. It’s almost elightening (what is the sound of one person making no sense?). Wait so if they aren’t in the picture how do you know they aren’t in the picture, “the facts” I mean? Another way to ask it might be… how could you know anything about what you can’t see is not there, let alone that at least 51% of the time (a number you couldn’t possibly know) you know that what you can’t know are “facts” that people you don’t know need to know? And all of this right after you defend Contresas for taking something that you actually do know was inside the image and actually taking it “outside the image”. But apparently in this case I don’t need to know the facts, even though for once you do know what was in the picture, because… wait let me check, wouldn’t wan’t to misquote your measured thoughts…here it is “removing of the camera made little difference.” Then you say “it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to deceive the audience” into thinking that something other than what was in the picture can be inferred from the picture. Here’s the thing though. You don’t need to be some sort of scholar or be able to read tea leaves to know that thats exactly what he did. I mean it’s literally what he did.

    The whole thing is magical. Hey how often are you getting to decide what I do or don’t need to know what you don’t know is in the picture and what you do know isn’t? Can’t you quantify that too? Just say whatever comes to mind. No? But you are so good at it. Well either way I’d like to be the first to thank you for knowing what I need and don’t need to know when I look at an image. Who am I kidding, theres no way I’m the first. Well, on behalf of “the audience”, thank you.

    And it’s too bad because you were on to something. Thing is it’s not aesthetics per se. It’s the money that drives the aesthetics. And just like Contreras, the AP is in the business of selling pictures and will do almost anything to make sure that keeps happening. So if it turns out that people are more likely to buy pictures that confirm the world as they already know it and don’t buy photos of war with cameras in them because that is confusing and people don’t like being confused and also it makes it difficult to forget that photos are not a direct window onto the world, which one do you think AP is going to push, or Contreras is going to redact? Remember that audience you keep talking about? Ya well it’s actually them who runs the show. Because journalists are so desperate to sell news we’ve arrived at a place where they will tell anybody almost anything they want to hear and almost nothing they don’t.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      HI Nicolas,

      thanks for your comment.

      I’ll try and simplify things as much as my dim mind is capable of so that you have a chance of understanding.

      I wrote

      ‘but I do know, more often than not, the facts the audience need to form a balanced view are outside of the image.’

      And you responded with

      ‘This is so wonderfully precious and dim, it makes me want to dance. It’s almost elightening (what is the sound of one person making no sense?). Wait so if they aren’t in the picture how do you know they aren’t in the picture, “the facts” I mean?

      Do I really need to explain what should be obvious to someone who calls himself a journalist and used to work for AP? That there are other sources of information that you can draw on from which to form a balanced opinion then a photograph? Like witness accounts. Video. Documents. Research. History. Opinion pieces. Or even other photos.

    • http://www.john-macpherson-photography.com john macpherson

      “This is so wonderfully precious and dim, it makes me want to dance.”

      Whoa Nicolas – that’s a delightful image you’ve painted for me – that of a guy with one leg dancing and never able to figure out why when he does it the whole world always goes sideways. Maybe….you know….if you looked….er….down…maybe….you’d have noticed the problem, the lame argument……but no it’s ‘outside the frame’ and we best not go there to see the reality. Better to keep kidding oneself that the world is ALWAYS sideways and just make the best of it.

      I’m not sure what to make of your response, but this comment intrigued me:

      “Because journalists are so desperate to sell news we’ve arrived at a place where they will tell anybody almost anything they want to hear and almost nothing they don’t.”

      So in your opinion all (or almost all) journalists are liars.

      That’s a remarkable statement and one I most strongly disagree with. Most journalists I’ve encountered whether working in print or in images, have remarkable integrity.

      But if that’s your experience who am I to refute it. But then again, I do have to wonder if you actually believe that yourself, because if you consider yourself a journalist too then by your logic I’d have to say, ‘I don’t believe you’. You know – because, by your own admission, you’re only telling me what you think I want to hear, not what is true.

      So in that case why should I take anything you’ve got to say seriously?

  • John R. Fulton Jr.

    I fully understand the firing by AP of their photographer.
    But…..
    Here’s the nut of the problem AND the nut of the problem for AP from the photographer’s point-of-view. AP wants great pictures. That means they want “idealized” images of the event since those are the great pictures. Capa’s soldier at moment of death, Eddie Adam’s Viet Cong being executed in the street, Nachtwey’s picture of the man throwing the firebomb. Those are idealized pictures. One cannot imagine a better picture. They etch into your head. So, that’s what the photographer is looking for. Having a straight picture of a scene where something intrudes into that idealism isn’t helpful. The stray video camera, the finger, or what-have-you take away from the idealized picture. They take away from the great picture. They make it less likely it will be a Pulitzer Prize winning image.
    So what’s the truth? The truth is AP wants great photographs. As photographers we want to make great photographs. It’s a conflict. AP wants its cake and to eat it too. In all honesty they do not want that video camera in the picture anymore than the photographer.
    Lastly don’t forget the ego of the photographer. Why aren’t there more “video camera” pictures? The photographer always wants to be portrayed as being the lone photographer at the scene and that video camera would take away from that image. So the photographer may be his/her own worst enemy when seeking the truth.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Yes. Cake and eat it.

      • John R. Fulton Jr.

        I’m grimacing at my misuse of “there”.
        To be perfectly clear it’s competitive pressure that removed that video camera. Reuters, Getty and AP are trying to get the best “reports” out. It would be interesting to compare those reports. I’m sure you’d find few extraneous video cameras.
        So there!

        • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

          What misuse John? Maybe someone changed you comment? I demand they are sacked.

          • John R. Fulton Jr.

            It’s indeed a rare boss or blogger who sacks himself/herself. Thanks for the correction. Misusing words or facts is perhaps the written equivalent of the “video camera”. But they’re easily fixed.