interview with the photographer who got busted for photoshopping war photos

"Walski: I guess you're calling to ask why I destroyed my career."
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21 Responses:

  1. ciphergoth says:

    Wild. Sometimes I think the US really does have higher standards of journalism. In this country you can do that sort of thing on the front page and no-one gives a damn.

    The only news reference I can find to this story is in the Balochistan Post, Pakistan...

  2. zonereyrie says:

    You know, I really feel sorry for this guy. He sounds like someone with integrity who made one bad decision (and one that really isn't THAT bad, IMHO - it isn't like he faked up someone doing something illegal, etc) and now his life is completely fucked.

    I think that what he did was wrong, and if you want to argue slippery slope then letting it pass could open the door to frame-ups, etc. But I can't help but feel bad for this guy. I've made bad decisions before when I'm stressed out - but generally the worst thing that happened to me was I had to put in extra time to rewrite the code.

    • cetan says:

      I hope the editors that let the photo go got fired too. They are as much to blame as the photographer. It's their job to stop this from going to print. But they didn't? Why? Because the Times, just like every other American media "news" organization only cares about one thing: ratings. If they can get the first-this or an exclusive-that who gives a damn if it's right or not.

      Why do you think the Howard Stern prank caller keeps getting on the news, live?

      • cirollo says:

        I'm guessing that you didn't read the interview, or look at the photos. He did a pretty damn good job with photoshop, and supposedly the person who caught the fact that it was a fake was an Iraqi who was looking closely at each face in an attempt to identify people he knew, and noticed that some of the faces repeated.

        After reading about the photo, I stared at the picture for a while, and still had a hard time telling that it was a fake.

        • cetan says:

          I don't care if you didn't catch it. If you are current the editor at the Times then it's no wonder you didn't see it. If you're not an editor then go back to your hole. It is THEIR JOB. They did not do their job. They, in fact, failed so horribly at their job that they forced their employers to look like idiots.

          Great assumptions there, b.t.w. Too bad they are wrapped so well into your response: just plain wrong.

          • bojolais says:

            Ease up a bit. Editors shouldn't always be held completely responsibile for every action of their photographers. Like any manager with subordinates, it is their job to encourage and develop their employees. Yes, editors should be held responsible when they approve work that is deceptive, even if they were deceived themselves. However, the quality of the deception should considered before firing the editors. Would you rather every photographic editor requiring every photographer to provide comprehensive evidence that they didn't fabricate an image? That's nonsense, but that sort of micromanagement would be required if you have anyone of any sort of image talent on your staff.

            Also, photojournalism is a gray topic. Photographers are there to convey the truth. A photograph can be taken out of context, even if it is not digitally manipulated, and often a digitally manipulated photograph can tell a more truthful story than a single undoctored shot. In my opinion, of course, and probably yours as well if you're familiar at all with political photography.

            Was a misleading image created simply because it was more emotionally stirring than the original photographs? It sounds like it, since the photographer seems ashamed of what he did under stress. However, if he professed that the composite image was more indicative of the situation, then I'd be more supportive of him. He didn't however, so sounds like he broke is own rules.

            • cetan says:

              Would you rather every photographic editor requiring every photographer to provide comprehensive evidence that they didn't fabricate an image?

              Like it or not, as the tools get better and better, organizations will be forced to move closer and closer to this. It will be defacto in the world of journalism.

              Unless Fox wins. In that case, then we'll only have to worry when an image isn't photoshoped.

  3. omnifarious says:

    Wow, I've never seen someone so completely accept responsibility for their actions in such a public way.

  4. nothings says:

    I dunno, this mea culpa just come across as bogus to me. Not that he's not accepting responsibility, it's just the action he's accepting responsibility doesn't make any sense.

    It's like somehow the two pictures got merged together by magic, the way he tells it. So, ok, maybe it is standard practice to open your photo up in photoshop and tweak the brightness and stuff. Do you touch up individual spots, though, say brighten a little area here and darken a little area there? Maybe go erase a phone pole (which he mentions doing)? Ok, maybe all that.

    But then how do you just kind of accidentally open up another image and start cutting and pasting between them? Well, he doesn't make it sound accidental--he says he was trying to make the picture better--but at what point does he decide that that's an option even worth considering, and why doesn't he think about it the ramifications when he makes the decision?

    My suspicion, and I have no basis for it, is that he didn't have to make a decision, didn't think about the ramifications, because he--or other people he knows--have been doing this for ages; of course he did it this time, because he's done it many times before; this just happens to be the one he got caught on. And if that's true, his mea culpa is so incredibly bogus that it would really piss me off.

    No way to know, though.

    • ciphergoth says:

      Just what do you expect a mea culpa to say in answer to the question "what was going through your head when you did the thing that you now say is wrong"?

      • nothings says:

        My point is that, if you suppose somebody has done this many times before, and he finally gets caught, well, he's not going to go, "oh, well, I didn't think it was a big deal because I've done it thirty times before and nobody noticed, so I figured it was fine". Instead, he's going to say, "oh, oops, I don't know what I was thinking, I'm an idiot".

        So the question is whether this is really the first time and he honestly has no clue why he didn't think about it, or whether it's not really the first time and he's being dishonest about why he did it, about why he didn't think twice about doing it. But obviously there's no way to know.

  5. thesliver says:

    The earliest known faked war picture is, I think, that of the soldier falling in the Spanish Civil War by Robert Capa, long before any digital manipulation. It was faked in the posing but it became the single most known image of the Spanish Civil War.

    Now though we have Guernica, the greatest war painting, even though Guernica may never have existed and never been bombed and for Colin Powell's sake it was decently covered at the UN.

    Put not your faith in image makers, believe nothing or rather believe everything but never be surprised.