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WPP Contest To Implement Stricter Post-Processing Rules for 2014

By Anthony Thurston on October 5th 2013

The World Press Photo (WPP) Contest has had sort of a rough year after the winner of the contest’s 2013 edition was accused of being a composite. According to the British Journal of Photography; In response to public opinion over the amount of post-processing that the winning photographs have had the organization is looking to implement much stricter rules regarding post processing for the upcoming 2014 edition of the contest.

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Contest winning photographer Paul Hansen was accused of forging the image, which many thought to be a composite. The WPP had to spend a considerable amount of time (and one has to assume money) investigating whether or not the image was in fact a composite. In the end they were able to determine that the image was genuine, and not a composite, although it was conceded that a “fair amount” of dodging and burning had been done to give the image its finished look.

The accusations, and ensuing public outcry over the 2013 edition of the WPP has lead the organization to rethink its view and the rules governing post-processing of images submitted to the contest. Michiel Munneke, World Press Photo’s managing director states “We have evaluated the contest rules and protocols and examined how to create more transparency, and we have changed the procedures for examining the files during the judging.”

The specific changes that are being made to the rules have not yet been released, but Munneke went on to state that further details will be released when the start of the 2014 contest starts. “We will announce further details when the 2014 Photo Contest opens for entries later this year…”

I think that it is good that they are taking the time to clarify the rules on post-processing and taking a look at how images are going to be judged. I have nothing against post-production, but when it gets to a level that the image no longer looks quite real I think a line needs to be drawn. At the very least contest participants need to be fully aware of what is and what is not permissible so that everyone is able to participate fairly in the contest.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with changing the rules on post-processing and judging in light of the 2013 fiasco? or do you fall into the post-processing should be fair game, no matter how manipulated the image is from what was actually captured with the camera? Let us know in a comment below. 

[via The British Journal of Photography]

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Anthony

    Photography is a form of art – the image a result of that artists perception of what took place. If it were not the case, it would be a matter of most anyone can take a “snap” these days – The uproar over the winning image is more a case of sour grapes than of concern for the legitimacy of the image.

    In the case of WPP, I think the image needs to be “un-doctored” – But D&B, cropping, colour adjustments should all be well within the arena of acceptable enhancements.

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  2. Shahane

    Would it be via le to show the untreated original next to the entry, maybe next to the blurb?

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  3. Avishai Avivi

    Yeah, dodge & burn and in my mind even color adjustments should be acceptable. But cloning, healing, compositing is altering the reality and is therefore wrong. Now that said, like all technology attempts to limit its use – demanding the original raw files – will just enable tools that will allow photographers to take a raw file, manipulate it, then repackage it as a raw file.

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  4. Jacob delaRosa

    Dodge and Burn? By all means.

    Velociraptor carrying Kim Jon Un with angel wings while powered by unicorn tears? Probably not in this case.

    Probably the best explanation of acceptable post processing for a photojounalistic image was written by David Hobby while recalling his days as a newspaper photographer. To paraphrase: “If you could do it in the darkroom, you could do it with digital.”

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  5. Ann Sill-Adams

    No such thing as an unaltered photograph.

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  6. Rob

    Not understanding the fuss?
    It used to be you submitted prints, now you submit the digital equivalent, jpgs. You used to dodge and burn your negatives to make your prints, why not now? If it is that big of a hub bub, just get the photographers to submit their RAWS and you can then look over and adjustments they have made and determine if they are too much. Obviously you wouldn’t be able to do a composite due to the file nature of an out of the camera RAW file.

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  7. SSi

    I can see it now that any pictures submitted from now on will have to be in a camera raw format. I really don’t get why there is so much fuss over D&B when it’s been a thing for years even back to darkroom stuff. ~sigh~

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