Digital photography in the art world is an invaluable tool. So many artists are now finding a voice with which to communicate their stories and messages. Unfortunately, post-processing has also had an impact on photojournalism as well, sometimes not is a good way.
As a conceptual photographer and storyteller, I understand the power that Photoshop and digital photography offer. It can make fantastic world come alive and provide an avenue for accurately telling the stories that so many need to tell. It opens doors into our minds that we my not have known were even there. From adding elements into an image to compositing an entire scene, we can know lay waste to cities, without actually having to damage anything. We can take a young girl and turn her into a fairy princess living in a magical forest, and that is the magic of digital. It is a creative freedom that allows us to do what we want to do, and people understand that in order to express those things, editing is required, sometimes quite extensively.
The problems arise when those who are supposed to be making accurate depictions of events in the real world choose to be dishonest with their processing. Too much focus has been placed on editing after-the-fact in order to fix poor composition or mistaken exposures, both of which I can deal with, as long as it does not manipulate the truth of the image.
Adding items or people to an image to increase the shock value is ethically wrong. Journalists are supposed to tell and show an unbiased truth in their images, but manipulating those images are becoming more prevalent. How long will it be before we cannot trust journalistic images at all? Minor corrections are not a big issue, I mean, maybe the event happened to quickly to get a good exposure, I’m ok with correcting that so far as it does not add or subtract drama from the truth. Maybe the white balance was off, I’m ok with fixing that as well, as long as the finished image is an exact telling of the story, not an exaggeration of it.
There needs to be a push to keep the integrity of photojournalism honest. I’m sure a large percentage of them strive for the truth, and as with all things, there will be exceptions to the rule. An honest story may not hold all of the drama, and in today’s society, honesty is extremely important as the media shapes the opinions on so many things. If we cannot trust the media to be honest, then it ends up being a mess of misdirection and deceit.
Leave creative editing and conceptual work to the artists and get back to the journalistic integrity that people need to see, especially now with so many events happening all around the world. Let art be art and learn the fundamentals of photography and all aspects that affect it. Journalism has no place for creative editing as it should tell the truth, undistorted, and unbiased.