Steve McCurry and the controversy about photo-editing !

Recently, an oft discussed subject related to photography came back to haunt we photographers. Should we edit the photographs in photo editing software or not ? It so happened that a world famous photographer Steve McCurry was the centre of all the controversy that surrounded the subject. Photo-editing …….As you know Steve became an iconic photographer with his very famous photograph of The Afghan Girl he photographed while covering the war in Afghanistan. The razor sharp image of the girl spoke more than thousand words about the  plight of the war ravaged population of Afghanistan. Her eyes mirrored the suffering of the millions in that war-ravaged country. And Steve McCurry became a legend.

However it is said that uneasy lies the head that wears a crown……. Along with his admirers there were his distractors also……who gleefully pounced upon the originals of some of his images and found that his final photographs published in well-known journals were edited using Photoshop.

Some of these publications pride themselves about being the purveyors of news as it happens. They also claim that they report on anything as it happens without adding or subtracting anything. So for these publications it was a shock that they had published a photoshopped version of the photograph and not the original.

After the controversy blew the lid off, Steve McCurry had to admit that he had photoshopped some of the images and he no longer considers himself as a photo-journalist. He declared that he considers himself as a photo artiste!

Yes, we are all photo artistes and we are not photo-journalists ! We do use photo-editing to bring out the best in photographs. If anybody claims that he can get everything right in camera itself and does not resort to photo-editing, take it that he is just bluffing.

In good old days of photography, we did some of the things we do today in photoshop. We did crop the photos, we did dodge or burn the photographs, we used different printing papers to overcome the under or over exposure, we used filters and so on. Whatever we did in the darkroom, now we do it on our desk-top……so what is the big deal about not using photoshop !

However a word of caution, with photoshop we have a double-edged weapon in our hand. We should not use it to destroy the reality in the images we claim to be the original images we shot. If you have photoshopped and changed the reality then we should put it straight and tell that the image is altered for artistic effect. Nothing is wrong in it.

Every painter does take liberties with the subject he paints. For example if he is painting a petite girl against a not so pretty background and if he eliminates some of the ungainly things in his painting, the would you not call him a painter ? The same argument applies to a photographer……if he removes some objects which are not relevant to the subject and which bring out the best in the subject……. Should you not call him a photographer ? …….we all photographers are photo artistes and we are proud about it…we enjoy photography and we do it to give sheer pleasure to the public and that’s it !!



One thought on “Steve McCurry and the controversy about photo-editing !

  1. I do agree with this blog……earlier nobody was listening me…..but now that have to…. it doesn’t mean that every photograph should be edited on Photoshop. It is good to click a photo which will not required or minimum requirement of Photoshop software…. I think this will be ok for the amateurs just like me.

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