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Author Topic: McCurry Scandal?  (Read 14437 times)

Rob C

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2016, 03:27:07 AM »

I find the whole question of documentary vs. art, when it comes to McCurry, utterly ridiculous. Of course it is documentary. If it walks like a documentary, if it quacks like a documentary, it is a documentary. Especially since most of his images first appeared in the National Geographic, which goes (or used to) to great lengths to preserve authenticity. If it turns that the Afghan girl's bulging eyes piercing stare is a result of the Photoshop's Liquify filter or Lightroom's Iris Enhance brush preset, the whole universe might implode.


Funny thing: I've recently been looking at people - self included - and wishing PS (not ps as in plastic surgery) was available before the photography... perhaps in a few years.

Rob

Jim Pascoe

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2016, 04:14:14 AM »

I find the whole question of documentary vs. art, when it comes to McCurry, utterly ridiculous. Of course it is documentary. If it walks like a documentary, if it quacks like a documentary, it is a documentary. Especially since most of his images first appeared in the National Geographic, which goes (or used to) to great lengths to preserve authenticity. If it turns that the Afghan girl's bulging eyes piercing stare is a result of the Photoshop's Liquify filter or Lightroom's Iris Enhance brush preset, the whole universe might implode.

I thought the original Afghan Girl picture predated Photoshop......

Jim
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GrahamBy

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2016, 07:33:27 AM »

Two things disappoint me:

1. In the rickshaw photo, someone felt the photo would be improved by simplifying it. It seems almost condescending, "we don't think the viewer is capable of looking at a complex photo". Then they modified the colours in an ugly way. Subjective judgements though, that's McCurry's business.

2. Except that McC doesn't want to accept responsibility... in which case he's saying that his exhibition prints were modified by an anonymous person, and he didn't check them all. To my mind, you either take creative control by looking at what has been done in your name, or you give credit to the "team" which is exercising those judgements. Or, you stop dribbling about "art" and just admit to running a pretty picture factory, which is also fine.
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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2016, 08:46:22 AM »

IMHO, Steve's portfolio and rise to fame was based on PJ work. Whether or not some of his images can be considered art, or not, is secondary. Take the rickshaw photo, for instance: if it gets published in a PJ work dealing the monsoon, or life in the streets, or transportation means, or whatever, then it can not have elements taken out/added in on it.

Now you take the same photo and package it as "art", does it follow that it is ok to take out/add elements to it? I don't think so.

I have no issue with adding/removing elements to an image, as long as it is clearly stated by the photographer. The fact that normally photographers get caught on it (meaning they tried to hide it in the first place), tells me that they know that their work would be downgraded because of it; or not accepted as a PJ work, for example.

It is the "sneakiness" of it that annoys me.

RSL

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2016, 08:49:24 AM »

Interesting take, but not my point.

No kidding Rip. Then why this: ". . .but I've often wondered if it isn't just a tad too coincidental that her eyes and her tunic (not her scarf) are an almost exact match to the background color of the tent."

The important thing about the Afghan Girl is her eyes, and if anything, the effect of her eyes increases in B&W.

One thing I've often wondered when I've looked at Steve's pictures is whether or not the vibrance and saturation sliders got bent.

RSL

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #25 on: May 13, 2016, 09:30:49 AM »

Does that preclude offering the image as a work of photo journalism?

You betcha. Part of the situation is its filthiness. Without that it becomes some kind of dream world.

Love the picture, but with the crap gone it's not journalism. On the other hand a lot of journalism is designed to make a point rather than report the facts. For many years one of my close friends was a guy retired from teaching journalism. Wish you could hear some of his revelations.

AlterEgo

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #26 on: May 13, 2016, 10:04:22 AM »

I thought the original Afghan Girl picture predated Photoshop......

Jim

you don't need PS to retouch the image... retouching predates digital, just different tools
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AlterEgo

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #27 on: May 13, 2016, 10:05:24 AM »

tells me that they know that their work would be downgraded because of it; or not accepted as a PJ work, for example.

a good point...
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AlterEgo

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2016, 10:07:25 AM »

Except that McC doesn't want to accept responsibility... in which case he's saying that his exhibition prints were modified by an anonymous person, and he didn't check them all.

and how do you know that it was him who actually took the photo ? you outsource post you might as well outsource the shooting too... you are a brand name now.
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Zorki5

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #29 on: May 13, 2016, 10:47:30 AM »

You betcha. Part of the situation is its filthiness. Without that it becomes some kind of dream world.

Love the picture, but with the crap gone it's not journalism. On the other hand a lot of journalism is designed to make a point rather than report the facts. For many years one of my close friends was a guy retired from teaching journalism. Wish you could hear some of his revelations.

+1

The only thing that I can disagree with here is that "a lot" part in "a lot of journalism is designed to make a point rather than report the facts". I'd argue that it's rather "all of".

The amount of manipulation that is possible with simple framing of your shot, or picking a moment to press shutter button, is incomparable to what one can do in post.

And even if some young, honest guy/gal full of idealistic intentions, will try to honestly just "report the facts", then he/she will be "corrected" by the editor picking just the "right" shots...
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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #30 on: May 13, 2016, 11:01:49 AM »

You betcha. Part of the situation is its filthiness. Without that it becomes some kind of dream world.

Love the picture, but with the crap gone it's not journalism. On the other hand a lot of journalism is designed to make a point rather than report the facts. For many years one of my close friends was a guy retired from teaching journalism. Wish you could hear some of his revelations.

Agree. But, one could argue that removing people is entirely a different level?

RSL

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #31 on: May 13, 2016, 11:16:40 AM »

The only thing that I can disagree with here is that "a lot" part in "a lot of journalism is designed to make a point rather than report the facts". I'd argue that it's rather "all of".

I think that today you're probably right, Zork. But I'm looking at history. At 86 I've been around long enough to have seen a time when a large part of journalism (except in "Time" mag) wasn't aimed at political spin. Nowadays almost all of it is.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #32 on: May 13, 2016, 12:37:04 PM »

...well, what then?

...well, what then?

Well, then, with you, nobody cares.

You are not a photojournalist or documentary photographer. You have a reputation as a fine art photographer or simply artist.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #33 on: May 13, 2016, 12:55:53 PM »

But I've been both. Cut my teeth as a horticultural photographer, documenting public and private gardens. The first task before shooting was always the obligatory garden tidy.

For which I hope you got a civil service commendation. But surely you see the difference between removing a stray paper and removing a couple of humans?

BartvanderWolf

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #34 on: May 13, 2016, 12:58:13 PM »

Had I picked up those cigarette butts and sweet wrappers and disposed of them prior to shooting the image, well, what then?

Had I shot the image after the street had been swept, well, what then?

Hi,

So what you are saying is that it is only cheating if you get caught?
If so, then where to draw the line, and who draws it if not you?

Cheers,
Bart
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== If you do what you did, you'll get what you got. ==

BartvanderWolf

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #35 on: May 13, 2016, 01:09:45 PM »

No, I'm simply asking the questions.

In that case, it's cheating, which would not (never) be appropriate in journalism, but perfectly acceptable in fine art photography. Whether it's recommended if acceptable, is a matter of taste and creative intent.

Cheers,
Bart
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== If you do what you did, you'll get what you got. ==

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #36 on: May 13, 2016, 01:13:41 PM »

You probably heard this one many times: "Hard to define, but you'll know it when you see it" (A US Supreme Court judge about pornography). So there's that.

The line is different depending on the genre. If McCurry said, in a preface to books or exhibitions, something to the effect of "I spent most of my life as a documentary photographer, but this book/exhibition is my artistic vision of the same scenes, where are took the poetic license to alter what was happening in front of my lens by removing a few elements, including human, in order to better highlight the essence of the scene...blah, blah, blah" I doubt we would be having this discussion. Stupid photoshopping notwithstanding.

On a side note, that single photoshopping blunder is much more damaging because it brings into question not just that photograph, but the whole opus. The lingering question then becomes: "If he manipulated that one, which others he did as well?"

I never thought he manipulated any, as I always thought he was predominantly shooting film, slides at that.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #37 on: May 13, 2016, 01:19:48 PM »

My publishing clients would have been particularly miffed had I not done that obligatory tidy prior to documenting the gardens.

Because it wasn't journalism, but editorial, or even commercial.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #38 on: May 13, 2016, 01:59:35 PM »

I understood I was being employed as a documentary photographer but of course I could be wrong.

Of course you are (wrong). I assume it was a horticulture magazine? On a side note, my second paying gig was for a horticulture magazine too, long time ago. As such (the magazine) their function is essentially commercial, just like all those "beautiful homes"  or fashion magazines, i.e., selling an idealized version of flowers, homes or models, and enticing the readership and (more importantly) advertisers.

Have you worked for a concerned citizens' magazine, or the Green Peace, or a non-profit, with the task to document the pitiful state of public gardens (hypothetically speaking), then of course your journalistic/documentary duty would be NOT to tidy the place.

RSL

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Re: McCurry Scandal?
« Reply #39 on: May 13, 2016, 02:56:57 PM »

But my question was Where do you draw the line? Who decides?

In photojournalism the editor decides. Now I wonder about the stuff Steve had in National Geographic. Considering the magazine's editorial stance I wonder even more.
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