A subtle observation by a photographer at an exhibit sparks a fire that continues to rage on…
Look, I have few ill feelings either way. The extent of the editing and photo manipulation debate has burned bright for longer than I’ve been shooting (or alive) and truthfully, I usually just open up a bag of popcorn to kick back and watch the show. But I am a shooter and admire much of the imagery McCurry has produced (though I’m wondering whose work it should be defined as – more on this later)… so like many of us, I have opinions on it. Why not share those admittedly unimportant opinions? We’re all here to chat about these kinds of things right?
Anyway, first and foremost, to get this out there. If it’s photojournalism related… yeah, it might be time to roll up a newspaper and give chase. Though, if it’s expression, travel, personal art, etc as he notes… then who cares.
Trouble is, like it or not, being who Steve McCurry is (unquestionably iconic, regardless of opinion) and who/what he represents (NatGeo/Magnum/etc)… it’s much more difficult to use the personal art explanation, when your career is built on the journalistic approach and the ethics/integrity expectations associated with it. Intended or not. This definitely muddies the waters quite a bit.

The image in question that began this firestorm.



What a stubby yellow foot you have there sir…

Now, that said… There is something else that hits me a bit harder and the main reason for me wanting to write this post. Specifically his explanation that it was an “editor” (or if being technical, “retoucher”) doing the final work for print.
I have a hard time understanding using someone else to finalize my work for me (high velocity sports wire aside). But that’s just me, some hate editing/retouching and that’s cool… however, this is a special kind of shoddy work passed off as “their own work” and it’s things like this that factor into the risk of not doing your own work. You’re at the mercy of whoever is doing it and when it’s shit, now only you can be seen as the creator of “shit”… I mean, look at this awful clone work. Seriously…
Furthermore, to that point,  is it really still “your work”?
That’s a question I want to pose… See, Thomas Kincaid as an example… As an artist, I am not that keen on artists that use other artists labor and pass it off as fully their own. This is a point where I feel it comes to question to add that a fun little * to the title. Ya know, *mostly mine, but also John Doe’s work too.
I’m just saying…
Additionally, if I truly completely and utterly despised the editing side of the work, so much so that I had a reason to bring in someone else (and could stomach it) I’d surely have one HELL of an overprotective path of approval in place. Proof after proof before it even leaves the shop… I mean… seriously. My “editor/retoucher” would hate my ass.
Nevertheless, it’s not something I’ll be worrying about happening anytime soon though… because no one touches my work by me. Which is where I have a hard time seeing this non-objectively.

Another image that was found to show extensive editing. If it’s not photojournalism though, does it matter? Does standing in the realm of photography overshadow an artist’s freedom to move pixels if ethics are unnecessary?

I don’t know… it sucks to see this occur. I’m not a big fan of scandal. Conversely it does bring up some interesting questions for healthy discussion.
How bout you folks? What are your thoughts on this growing wildfire?