Ethics in Photo Editing: Not the Same in Bangkok

There are some great photos in the Boston Globe’s photo blog post about the protesters in Bangkok. There is also what appears to be some ethically questionable photo editing going on in a couple of the images, particularly in images 1 and 21. If you take a closer look at image 1 by AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, there are heavily burned in areas in the upper corners. The part that strikes me first is how dark the upper right corner is. It looks as if the name of the building or business has been intentionally burned down to be unreadable. In image 21 by AP Photo/Manish Swarup, the upper left corner is burned down so far that it is almost entirely black. It is really unnatural looking compared to the light levels in the surrounding areas. Again, what is being hidden in that area? Maybe I am wrong about this but to me it seems as if these are blatant violations of the code of ethics for photojournalists. Take a look and tell me what you think.

sometimes its all in the details


Its the little things in pictures that can lead to a lot of head aches down the road. I’m not talking about bad white balance or composition. I’m talking about what your subject is doing or looks like they are doing. I had already written a cutline and color corrected a similar image (with a better facial expression) for pre-press when i took a closer look. Yeah, the baby totally looks like shes flipping me off. There are about a dozen frames like it with the same gesture. Had I went ahead and published this I would probably come back to email and voice mail about how we have “no standards” for what we will print and how “offensive this was” to some of our readers.

I am reminded of a time when the former Rocky Mountain News published a photo of man who’s house burned in the Hayman fire. He was wearing a pair of revealing shorts and from the angle that the photo was made appeared to show one of the man’s testicles protruding. The photo ran the full width of the page. The photographer paper claims it was just a shadow. Careful editing could have saved them from a lot of reader insults not to mention it would have kept the man from being embarrassed. While the photo above is not nearly as important or as controversial its a good example of why you need to pay attention to the little details.