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Listening Post

Pixelating the reality?

Photography is a subjective medium, and how it is used will always depend on who is using it.

Last Modified: 12 Jun 2013 15:00
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The late American writer Susan Sontag said that to photograph is to frame - and to frame is to exclude. She was saying that, as a medium, photography is, and has always been, subjective.

However in the digital era there is a new and growing subjectivity in photojournalism, one that you have most likely seen but not necessarily noticed.

It is called post-processing. It is when photographers digitally enhance their work to make it more captivating to the eye. The practise has raised some ethical questions within the industry and underscoring the debate is the winner of the 2013 World Press Photo award.

It shows a burial procession in Gaza last year and was digitally enhanced to the point that it was accused of being a composite. That clearly was not an issue for the judges, which tells you how much the industry has changed.

But the question remains, when it comes to digital enhancement - where should photo-journalists and news organisations draw the line? The Listening Post’s Nic Muirhead, reports on this year’s World Press Photo Awards and the growing use of post-processing in photojournalism.

Photography is not reality, it is a subjective medium. And for now, how it is used will always depend on who is using it and the tools - the growing number of tools - at their disposal.

"Photography - both digital and analogue - creates a matrix. In the analogue era these were called negatives, in the digital era they are called raw files.

We use complex, modern, advanced instruments which can radically change an image. We use them in a journalistic context and know their limitation. We voluntarily apply limitations to the tools offered by these technologies, because journalism can only be different from simple photography through a set or ethical rules."

- Francesco Zizzola, the co-founder of 10b Photography

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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