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Photo contest controversy: how much Photoshopping is too much?

paul hansen world photo award

Does Photoshopping a picture violate the tenets of photojournalism? That's the subject of a fierce debate after a shot by Paul Hansen — which shows hints of editing — was named the World Press Photo of the Year. A Flickr comparison analyzes two versions of the photo; other than exhibiting odd lighting, the submitted copy is also drained of saturation, which lends extra emotion to the faces of desperation and mournful expressions Hansen captured in the stunning image. Over at PetaPixel, Allen Murabayashi points that the practice seems increasingly evident in other prize winners, a deviation from years past when photos were judged largely on subject matter even if an exposure wasn't quite perfect. One solution he volunteers would require competition organizers to have photographers provide an original, untouched copy of any submission. This would allow them to see if a photo had been manipulated to an unreasonable degree or if postprocessing adheres to "acceptable industry parameters" as World Press puts it.

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