The Associated Press acknowledged on Wednesday that a Pulitzer Prize-winning freelance photographer admitted to Photshopping a photo taken in Syria last September. The news organization swiftly removed all traces of the photo from from its news service’s wires and banned the photographer for life. “He will not work for the AP again in any capacity,” according to a statement by the AP’s Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon.
According to a AP report, Narciso Contreras recently came clean to them about his Photoshopping trickery in which he used the clone stamp tool to remove a camera from the foreground of the shot in question and replacing it with shrubbery.
The news service scoured through Contreras previous photographs but could find no further evidence of photo manipulation.
“No other instances of alteration were uncovered,” Lyon said.
According to the AP’s ethical guidelines for photojournalists, “AP pictures must always tell the truth. We do not alter or digitally manipulate the content of a photograph in any way.”
The content of a photograph must not be altered in Photoshop or by any other means. No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph. The faces or identities of individuals must not be obscured by Photoshop or any other editing tool. Only retouching or the use of the cloning tool to eliminate dust on camera sensors and scratches on scanned negatives or scanned prints are acceptable. Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into gray scale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction (analogous to the burning and dodging previously used in darkroom processing of images) and that restore the authentic nature of the photograph. Changes in density, contrast, color and saturation levels that substantially alter the original scene are not acceptable. Backgrounds should not be digitally blurred or eliminated by burning down or by aggressive toning.
“I took the wrong decision when I removed the camera…I feel ashamed about that,” Contreras lamented. “You can go through my archives and you can find that this is a single case that happened probably at one very stressed moment, at one very difficult situation, but yeah, it happened to me, so I have to assume the consequences.”
View Contreras’s controversial photo below: