Please don’t ask a photojournalist to do this…

People have asked me a couple times to do a certain task since I’ve been a working (photo)journalist – sometimes jokingly and sometimes with a straight face.

“Can you just Photoshop this for me?”

I know because of the Internet – between memes, trolls claiming any interesting photo is Photoshopped and the occasional and unfortunate photojournalist who does alter a photo – people know the capabilities of Photoshop and would love for me to give them a facelift or fix their sign in post-production.

Yes, I can. No, I won’t.

Again, some people are just trying to make a joke, but I have had people honestly ask me this question. I hate to be rude, but explaining the ethics of changing the information in a photo doesn’t quite translate to some, so I just say I can’t do it.

I am a proud member of the National Press Photographers Association, and they are constantly discussing the ethics of photo manipulation. Even when I opened the website just now the top entry was about the ethics of using Photoshop’s “fill flash” feature. The NPPA Code of Ethics even mentions photo manipulation, stating in one place that “Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.”

So please, if you are being featured in your community paper, a large publication, national website or in any way interact with a photojournalist taking your photo, please don’t ask for him/her to alter your photo. If I give you a sunkissed glow in your photo when you haven’t been to the beach in months, who’s to say I won’t do something to really misrepresent you or my next subject?


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