Archivi categoria: truth

Steve McCurry Says He Will ‘Rein in His Use of Photoshop’

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Steve McCurry has responded to the recent hoopla surrounding his Photoshopped photos. The famed photographer explains that he’s now a “visual storyteller” rather than a photojournalist, but says he will “rein in his use of Photoshop” going forward to remove any confusion.

The controversy started earlier this month, when a badly Photoshopped McCurry photo was spotted at a show in Italy. Soon, more examples of cloned photos emerged, including in McCurry’s blog archives from the past several years.

In an exclusive interview with TIME, McCurry again explains that the confusion is due to a major shift in his career. Even though he started out as a photojournalist, a profession in which “truth” is paramount, he hasn’t considered himself one in the past several years. He’s now a visual storyteller, McCurry says.

“The years of covering conflict zones are in the distant past,” McCurry tells TIME. “Except for a brief time at a local newspaper in Pennsylvania, I have never been an employee of a newspaper, news magazine, or other news outlet. I have always freelanced.”

McCurry’s work in recent years has mostly been personal, fine art, non-profit, and commercial work — areas in which even heavy-handed editing may be considered perfectly acceptable.

Best known for his “Afghan Girl” National Geographic cover photo (shown above), McCurry’s career has now spanned over four decades, and the photography industry has gone through major changes over that span. As an example of how industry ethical standards have shifted, McCurry points to his December 1984 Nat Geo cover photo of a monsoon in India. The magazine extended the water to fit its vertical format cover:

McCurry's original photo overlaid on the cover (left) and the published cover (right). Comparison by TIME.
McCurry’s original photo overlaid on the cover (left) and the published cover (right). Comparison by TIME.

“That use of Photoshop ensured that a powerful image wouldn’t be rejected because it was a horizontal orientation,” McCurry tells TIME. “Some would say that was wrong, but I thought it was appropriate because the truth and integrity of the picture were maintained.”

National Geographic director of photography Sarah Leen tells TIME that this type of cover photo edit was “32 years ago, a different era,” and says that it “would never happen now.”

Even though McCurry now considers himself a visual storyteller, the photographer says he’s going to change the way he edits his photos moving forward for the benefit of others and the industry.

“[G]oing forward, I am committed to only using the program in a minimal way, even for my own work taken on personal trips,” the photographer tells TIME. “Reflecting on the situation… even though I felt that I could do what I wanted to my own pictures in an aesthetic and compositional sense, I now understand how confusing it must be for people who think I’m still a photojournalist.”


Image credits: 2011 portrait of Steve McCurry by John Ramspott

Digital Photos Can’t Be Trusted, Says Renowned War Photographer

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Don McCullin, one of the world’s great war photographers, believes that digital photography can be “a totally lying experience” and is something that can’t be trusted.

The Guardian reports that McCullin was speaking yesterday at the Photo London art fair when he lamented about digital cameras and the art world “hijacking” the world of photography.

“I have a dark room and I still process film but digital photography can be a totally lying kind of experience,” McCullin said. “You can move anything you want in it. The whole thing can’t be trusted really.”

By making reality so easy to manipulate in photos, digital photography has made it so people can no longer trust the truthfulness of images they see, McCullin says.

The iconic photographer also struggles with the fact that the art world has taken photography beyond its role as a form of visual communication and into the world of subjective art.

“I’ve always thought photography is not so much of an art form but a way of communicating and passing on information,” he says. “Many people misunderstand me – I’m quite happy to be called a photographer. All of a sudden the art world has caught up with photography and they are trying to hijack us.”

“I’ve spent most of my life embracing violence in wars and revolutions. Even a famine is a form of violence,” he continues. “Because I photograph people in peril, people in pain, people being executed in front of me, I find it very difficult to get my head around the art narrative of photography. I’ve managed to push it back and retain my place by just accepting that I’m a photographer.”

“You can see my struggle with the art world, the ‘art’ of photography. The Americans are the ones who started this artistic kind of thing, why couldn’t they just leave it alone?”

(via The Guardian via Phogotraphy)


Image credits: Header portrait by Divulgação/TV Brasil – EBC