Ethics on Photography Manipulation

Prior to assignment four- real or fake, I decided to do a little research into the argument of Photographic manipulation to gain a little more perspective on the subject. I discovered that manipulation and enhancement are two different things. Chris Weston gives a good description of the difference in the two;

ENHANCEMENT: “Practically, every photographer enhances his or her images in some way… Computer enhancement is merely a more convenient form of achieving something photographers have been doing since photography was invented.(1)”

MANIPULATION: “Manipulation on the other hand, is the falsation of an image for the photographer’s own advantage. Whether it is right or wrong to do so depends entirely on the context.(2)”

I simply believe that it is unethical to portray an image as something that it is not. When photographers go overboard with manipulation, the public’s trust in them and in their profession is diminished. Their trust that the image actually was a true account of history is ruined. Therefore photographers must be very careful about this.

I believe that there are certain circumstances when manipulation is and isn’t acceptable. A photojournalist for example should not manipulate a photograph. Manipulating a piece of news to produce something that did not actually happen as portrayed in the image is wrong. The Washington Post’s rules for their photojournalists should be adhered to by every photojournalist: “Photography has come to be trusted as a virtual record of an event. We must never betray that trust. It is our policy never to alter the content of news photographs. This means that nothing is added or subtracted from an image… (3)”  A manipulated image on a book cover on the other hand is acceptable in my opinion. Someone reading a novel would know that the cover was not a representation of reality, but merely an image summary of the fantasy book plot.

In conclusion, in my opinion digital manipulation is ok in certain situations (book covers, magazine covers etc.) but is completely wrong in factual instances (photojournalism etc.) where the public audience believes it to be a true record of a historical event.

As far as enhancement goes, I think that adjusting colour saturation, contrast, and brightness is perfectly acceptable. As is touching up small skin blemishes or flyaway hairs on models. Enhancement is merely a tool to improve upon the image that is there. It is not taking away or adding false information to an image. Therefore, in my opinion, enhancement is acceptable.

This has been very insightful research which has certainly helped me come to a decision on my opinions on manipulation and enhancement in photography. Prior to this research I had no idea how I felt about either of these.

On approaching assignment four, I look forward to creating an imaginary image for a magazine/book cover. This is something I have never done before, so it is completely out of my comfort zone. I began to research a little into manipulated images for ideas, and below are a few of my favourite photos by photographer Ben Goosens. They are truly brilliant, and have shown me just how imaginative digital manipulation can be! These great images have given me plenty of inspiration for Assignment Four.

(4)

ben goossens photo

(5)

ben_goossens_09

(6)

Looks-From-Ben-Goossens-image4

(7)

ben_goossens_07

(8)

3144_Ben_Goossens_Creative_Works1_1

(1) Weston, Chris, Mastering your digital SLR: How to get the most out of your digital camera (page 137) [Accessed on 28/02/13]

(2) Weston, Chris, Mastering your digital SLR: How to get the most out of your digital camera (page 137) [Accessed on 28/02/13]

(3) Gross, Larry P, Image Ethics in the Digital Age (page 38) [Accessed on 28/02/13]

(4) PHOTO.NET (1996-2013), Ben Goosens Photography, Available on: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=209032 [Accessed on 28/02/13]

(5) PHOTO.NET (1996-2013), Ben Goosens Photography, Available on: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=209032 [Accessed on 28/02/13]

(6) PHOTO.NET (1996-2013), Ben Goosens Photography, Available on: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=209032 [Accessed on 28/02/13]

(7) PHOTO.NET (1996-2013), Ben Goosens Photography, Available on: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=209032 [Accessed on 28/02/13]

(8) PHOTO.NET (1996-2013), Ben Goosens Photography, Available on: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=209032 [Accessed on 28/02/13]

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2 thoughts on “Ethics on Photography Manipulation

  1. Pingback: Assignment Four- Real or Fake | Hans Photography

  2. Pingback: Module Reflection and Evaluation | Hans Photography

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