What’s wrong with this picture?
THIS ISN'T A PHOTO. It's a photo-illustration,
produced by digital manipulation of two separate photos.
Prince Charles has never met the vegetables in question, to talk to
or otherwise. He has been "Macced into" a separate photo.
Past photo-manipulation jobs by the late newspaper Today have
barely met National Inquirer standards. This one is a decent
job -- even the practised eye could be taken in.
Is that a problem for an illustration to a patently silly feature?
Maybe, maybe not: the subject has been too busy to tell us personally,
but his office has indicated that it is not amused at all....
The words "wedge", "end" and "thin"
come to mind. Today has run at least one blatantly manipulated
image on the front page, and at least this subtly manipulated image
with a feature.
How long would it be, we asked at the time, before some UK paper presented an undetectably faked image as a news photo? Time already did it by "blackening"OJ on its cover.
Then, on cue, the London (UK) Evening Standard ran a photo
of the Labour Party Member of Parliament John Prescott, with
a beer bottle removed to justify the caption "Champage socialist". This may
seem trivial -- but it's the first clearly party-political abuse of photo-manipulation in
If the credibility of news photography is to be maintained, then
manipulated "non-photos" must be marked as such.
Ideally, LFB at least believes this should be done with
an internationally recognised symbol.
Bodies like the US
National Press Photographers' Association
say they "are strongly opposed to any manipulation of hard news pictures, so we haven't had [the] problem."
But manipulated photos will and probably should be used as illustrations
to features. The US
Michigan Press Photographers' Association
has had an
extensive on-line discussion.
There are many issues to be debated. What, exactly, constitutes manipulation,
many photographers ask? Fortunately, a very clear set of guidelines has emerged, from a perhaps unexpected and certainly (in this context) indepedent source.
In what kinds of publications is there a risk of photos being confused with
news? The Timeses, certainly. The Suns... well,
they still say they're newspapers: yes. But what about
It's time to get some symbol into daily use in all the places where it's clearly needed. The NUJ is trying out symbols
in its publications.
What are you doing?
BY Mike Holderness