The Associated Press has “severed ties” with Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, Narciso Contreras, after he admitted to altering an image taken during the conflict in Syria.
Contreras shared the Pulitzer Prize with four other photographers for breaking news photography from the Syrian War, but now faces having all of his 494 images removed from the AP publicly available news archive.
The news agency revealed that Contreras had admitted to digitally removing a video camera belonging to one of his colleagues from the bottom left hand corner of an image showing a Syrian rebel fighter, taken last September. Contreras altered the image as he felt the camera was a distraction, but admitted that he had broken the rules and should therefore face the consequences. “I took the wrong decision when I removed the camera…” he said. “I feel ashamed about that.”
Following a review of the hundreds of other photographs that Contreras has supplied to AP, it was found that this was an isolated case. No other images had been digitally altered. However, Santiago Lyon, the vice president and director of photography at AP, who carried out the review, felt that Contreras’ actions had made his position at the agency untenable.
“AP’s reputation is paramount and we react decisively and vigorously when it is tarnished by actions in violation of our ethics code,” he said. “Deliberately removing elements from our photographs is completely unacceptable.”
The Associated Press has strict rules safeguarding the truth and accuracy of their photos, but is their reaction justified in this situation? In today’s digital society, it can be hard to know what to believe when looking at a photograph, and therefore AP could be commended for their dedicated pursuit of unaltered images. But where do they draw the line? Is increasing the exposure or contrast in a shot manipulating the image? And if not, then is it also acceptable to dodge and burn specific areas of a photograph? Would it have been acceptable to crop the camera out of the image, rather than clone it out?
Perhaps the question should be,“Did Contreras’ actions change the subject of the photograph?” If he had shot the image at a slightly different angle to miss the video camera altogether, then that would have been acceptable under the AP’s guidelines, so could it be argued that the Photoshopped image was the photograph that he intended to take in the first place?
Or perhaps this is an important line drawn in the sand. Do you agree with the Associated Press’ approach? Or do you feel that they have made an example of Narcisco Contreras over a harmless bit of ‘tidying up’? Leave your thoughts in the discussion below.
To read more on the story on the Associated Press’ site, click here.
[Via @The Independent]