Art, Not Fact

I tried to read an article on Buzzfeed about coal mines in India, only to be sent to a link saying that, because his work had been found to have been doctored, they had removed the post with his photos. It referred readers to a post, explaining what was up with the photographer and his work.
I’m not a big fan of photos being doctored for magazines/blogs/tv/any sort of news type media. I mean, brightening up the colour, or sharpening the image is one thing, but when you start removing or adding, even if it’s just a basic crop to avoid showing something that makes your image not fit your story as well, it seems like a slippery slope to really lying through your photos. Not a problem if you’re doing it for fun, or your own social media account, like the IG account I follow, where the guy photoshops himself as a miniature human, climbing into bird nests or whatever. But if your photos are supposed to be sharing the truth of the world, then you need to not doctor them. A little lightening, a little sharpening, and that should be the end.
An image from the Alec in the Land of Giants IG account. Go take a look at the pictures, they’re really fun.

What really gets me though, is that the main shot that this guy he is in trouble for, is very obviously doctored. It looks like a lazy photoshop. He stole someone’s work, pasted it poorly into his image, and no one noticed that it wasn’t real…?

I personally do very little editing. This is partly because I am lazy, and I would rather take more pictures to get a few good shots than put time into editing a  few that are mediocre to start with.
To edit photos you’re taking simply for art, or for fun, isn’t such a big deal. I mean, if you want to put the time into it, go for it. I do think that if you’re going to call yourself a photographer, you should probably make an effort to take great pictures. I’ve known a lot of people who make money off of their photos, and they don’t really make much effort to get a truly spectacular shot, because they figure they can always fix things in editing.
One of mine without any editing. I don’t think I even cropped it, though it is from a few years ago, so that may not be accurate. I do, however, know that I definitely didn’t do anything more than that.
But to edit pictures you’re taking to teach or inform is a type of lying. It is sacrificing truth in pursuit of making a name for yourself. I already have a tendency to look at news photos and videos, and wonder if they’re real, since I know how easy it is to make very realistic looking fakes. And I know a number of people who feel the same way.
With so many people already mistrusting news outlets, do photographers need to make it any harder?
No matter what you do, be honest, try to help people understand, and if you’re only in it for your own glory, at least tell everyone that what you do is art, not fact.
And for goodness’ sake, don’t share someone else’s work as your own.

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