This is my second time to write about this topic this year. The first one was about a winning photo from a Nikon photo contest and a photojournalist from Associated Press who edited his war photos. Apparently, one of the icons in photography, Steve Mcurry is under fire about photoshopped or edited image.
It started when a photographer in Italy showed some flaws on one of the images of Steve in his blog site. The image clearly shows a mis cloned signpost and a leg. The image is not available in Steve’s blog site anymore but you’ll see it in many photography website like Petapixel. After the revelation, which was not intended to discredit Steve as claimed by the photographer who questioned it, a full mount investigation went into play.
When you’re multiawarded photojournalist and a travel photographer, an issue like this will stir a lot of doubt about photos you did in the past. Steve Mcurry is the photographer behind the Afghan girl that landed in the cover of National Geographic magazine. He is an icon in the photography world and a lot is at stake with this claims.
As the investigation is taking place, a lot of photos has surfaced showing cloning by comparing photos from Steve’s blog site photos against published images. Steve made a statement already about a potential editing by his staff while he was away on a trip. He also said that he is a storyteller.
Should you photoshop or edit your image? If you’ll ask me, I’m no Adobe Certified Expert for nothing, of course I edit my photos to the point of cloning some unwanted elements in my shot. I’m a commercial photographer and I do a lot of fashion editorial shots and I edit my photos only to a point where it still makes sense.
The major blowback in the case of Steve Mcurry is his affiliation with National Geographic. I’m not sure if it was driven by his passion to capture dramatic scenes or the pressure to keep on coming up with award winning photos. Either way, it’s currently a difficult situation for him.
In my opinion, I think he crossed the line but was it something he did to change the message in his shot? I think not. From the many images that came out in the net, it was minor cosmetic editing that he did. Comparing from the original and the edited version, the message of the photos never changed perspective.
It is inevitable that these issues will keep on surfacing the moment we entered the digital age. I bet that there are a handful of multiawarded photojournalist out there who is as guilty as Steve. It’s only a question of who gets caught first.
The borderline between a genuine and edited photo is very clear but when it comes to interpretation, I think there’s a lot that we should consider. Softwares are becoming more intelligent and the equipments are getting more sophisticated every time. Art will always be art no matter what generation we are in.
Keep on shooting everyone! www.albertpedrosa.com
Text and photos by Albert Pedrosa