Thursday, 23 January 2014

Reality - it depends how we look at it

It is reported that the Associated Press news agency has severed all ties with a freelance photographer and removed all his images from their archive because it has transpired he digitally manipulated one recent picture of a Syrian rebel fighter to remove from the corner of the image his colleague's video camera.

photo Narciso Contreras

It is something the Pulitzer prize winning photographer claims never to have done before. It is accepted that the removal had 'little news importance'. The photographer thought it might 'distract viewers', but  he 'now regretted' his decision. The alteration breached AP's requirements for truth and accuracy.

According to a spokesman, "AP's reputation is paramount and we react decisively and vigorously when it is tarnished by actions in violation of our ethics code ... Deliberately removing elements from our photographs is completely unacceptable."

"He said while the AP and other news organisations approve photographers' use of software to lighten or darken photos to replicate scenes as they witnessed them, the news service could not countenance Contreras's manipulation of a scene that was not true to reality."

Would it have been acceptable for the photographer to have cropped the photograph to remove the camera, had that been possible? Or to have simply framed it to exclude the camera? What lies beyond the frame of 'truth and accuracy'?

"That revelation led editors to examine all the 494 photos by Contreras that AP had transmitted during his tenure and, when possible, to compare them to the original data file held by the photographer."

Reality is data; data reality. That is all you know on earth and all you need to know.