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What changes are allowed when it comes to photojournalism?

by on December 6, 2013

There is a hazy line in photography when it comes to journalism and ethics. It is hard to be able to tell when it is okay to manipulate your images and what you can actually do to them. According to the NPPA, there are standards that photojournalists must understand when it comes to enhancing and changing their images to not ruin their credibility. A direct source from this article accurately describes that is okay to do your pictures before publishing.

“There are technical changes that deal only with the aspects of photography that make the photo more readable, such as a little dodging and burning, global color correction and contrast control. These are all part of the grammar of photography, just as there is a grammar associated with words (sentence structure, capital letters, paragraphs) that make it possible to read a story, so there is a grammar of photography that allows us to read a photograph. These changes (like their darkroom counterparts) are neither ethical nor unethical – they are merely technical.”

These technical changes wont necessarily put you in a place of trouble. To change basic lighting so that you can better see whats going on in the picture or color correcting so that an image isn’t say, to yellow wont really effect you in the long run. To completely modify a picture and change it so that it is completely different like crop out a major part of the picture or clear up someones skin, that may put you in an uncomfortable position and an ethical dilemma.

Keeping a picture as untouched as possible will steer you clear from any confusion. It would be in your best interest it keep the picture free of manipulation so that no one ever questions your credibility. Changing the meaning of the photograph or making an essential change can really harm your work.


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One Comment
  1. I thought that the article we read, “A New Focus,” gave some good insight into how people perceive photojournalism. It talked about how we live in a time when people distrust the news and are aware of how easy it is for photos to be manipulated, and so they trust what they see even less.

    Therefore, I think that it’s especially important that photojournalists understand and follow the NPAA Code of Ethics. They have to know where to draw the line between fixing small technical things such as lighting, and completely altering an image. This could even be done unintentionally by cropping a picture.

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