WPP groundhog day

Reading about the chatter around Paul Hansen’s phenomenal work, and this image in particular, got me thinking about film and paper. The top pairing shows the WPP winning image at top, below that the image which his newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, initially ran.

Lower pairing a simple desaturation in Photoshop of the first pairing.

Image © Paul Hansen.


Where does the ‘real’ picture lie? Does it?wppfuji wppmono1


  • It immediately grabs your attention, particularly in color, but is that just very fortuitous, natural bounce lighting kissing the main subject(s)just right? Or did the photographer know the route and place his lights accordingly? At first it seemed the latter, and (at least to me) it felt somewhat… manipulative, “staged.” Honestly, I don’t even know if that’s a “legitimate” concern or value judgement, ethically or aesthetically. It shouldn’t be- just feels it. Perhaps if I saw an actual print, it wouldn’t be an issue whatsoever…

  • Sorry. Not getting any of this colour/b&w stuff at all. All I keep seeing here are two dead children, killed unnecessarily. Even in b&w, blood is still red. Sadly.

    • Tom

      Amen. My opinion is that the style – whatever it is – should lead you into as opposed to detracting from the content. First time I saw this pic I was struck by the content first. That is all.

  • I’m trying not to let this bother me. (And I’m more or less succeeding.)

    Standards change. It really wasn’t that long ago (I was already alive) when the darkroom wizardry of the likes of W. Eugene Smith was more than acceptable. It was preferred.

    Smith’s fights with Life’s editors are the stuff of legend. But they weren’t over the look and feel of his photos.

  • Good point, John Mac.

  • J.J.

    Here is a powerful article addressing concerns raised by these types of images (beyond the toning),

    “What Victims Actually Want- Photographing Tragedy”


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