Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DigPhotog: The Ethics of Photo Manipulation

Digital photo manipulation: "the application of image editing techniques to photographs in order to create an illusion or deception (in contrast to mere enhancement or correction), through analog or digital means." (Wikipedia)

Ethics: "(1) the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. (2) a set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values —often used in plural but singular or plural in construction... (3) the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group." (Merriam-Webster)

What are your ethical standards when it comes to digital manipulation?
When is it O.K. to manipulate a photograph and when is it not?
Would it be acceptable in the area of art, but not in journalism?  Why?

Digital manipulation of photos can come up in the realm of politics as in the Fox News clip below.  The third photo shown (with the poodle) is clearly "photoshopped," but so are the previous two photos of the two men (yellowed teeth, etc.).

Digital manipulation controversies can also show up in the realm of advertising with some racist overtones.  
One example: Did Vanity Fair lighten Beyonce’s skin? - Entertainment - Access Hollywood -  For more on this story and other related digital manipulations in the news, see this set of links.

Browse through the many examples of photo manipulation found on Photo Tampering Throughout History.  This site has over 120 examples of photo manipulations from the late 1800s to today.  There are 26 examples from 2011.  As you check out the examples on the site, see if you can fine tune your ethical standards about photo manipulation.  When is it O.K.?  When is it not?

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