Photo Gallery How Good Is Too Good for News Photographs?

Nowadays even top photographers are having their work digitally improved. Mounting competition in the market for news images is forcing photographers to make their output more dramatic. Where are the limits of cosmetic enhancement?
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Nowadays, programs like Photoshop make it easier than ever to edit photos once they have been taken. Pro-Israeli bloggers and journalists, in particular, criticized how this photo of a funeral procession in Gaza was edited. This image by Paul Hansen was chosen as World Press Photo of the Year for 2013. It was clearly enhanced, but the jury did not believe it crossed the boundary of authenticity.

Foto: Paul Hansen/ AP
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Many fear that photo editing is blurring the boundaries between journalistic photography, on the one hand, and artistic and commercial image design, on the other. Another winner was American photographer Micah Albert. This original photo of a garbage collector in Kenya was edited to look like...

Foto: Micah Albert
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Starting this Thursday, Hansen's photo and many other World Press Photo Award winners will be on display at the Gruner+Jahr publishing house headquarters in Hamburg. Here, a raw image of Maxim Kaz, a former poker player-turned Moscow district council member...

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor/ DER SPIEGEL
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... and here, the improved version, which appeared in SPIEGEL late last year.

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The Hamburg exhibition will provide the general public the opportunity to decide whether modern photo editing is indeed crossing the boundaries of authenticity. This image is of the the construction site for the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor
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The image was enhanced prior to publication in SPIEGEL earlier this year.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor/ toned by 10b photography
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Light conditions were not the best on Tahrir Square in Cairo during the celebration of autocrat Hosni Mubarak's resignation in 2011.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor
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Such shortcomings, however, can easily be compensated for using Photoshop. "There is much more competition among photos today," says Klaus Honnef, a professor of the theory of photography. "(Agencies) have to outdo each other."

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor/ toned by 10b photography
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Photo modification has long been almost standard in lifestyle and celebrity magazines. More recently, however, it has hit the news pages. Here, rebels in Libya take cover while battling government troops in Ras Lanuf.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor
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The otherwise frightening image became eerily beautiful after a bit of digital editing.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor/ toned by 10b photography
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Russian photographer Yuri Kozyrev, who has reported from war zones for important magazines for 25 years, used to send his film directly to clients. Now the images pass through the hands of the people at 10b, who know what he wants. This is a raw version of a photo of anti-Putin protesters in February of 2012.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor
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This is the enhanced version. "The photos look totally flat in their original state," says Kozyrev.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor/ toned by 10b photography
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News agencies tend to place strict on what is permissible, but they too do not completely prohibit post-processing. The Associated Press (AP), for example, essentially allows only the kinds of enhancements that were once commonplace in the darkroom, and that "restore the authentic nature of the photograph," as the agency states a little enigmatically. Here, the raw version of a photo in South Sudan.

Foto: Francesco Zizola/ Noor
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The image was digitally enhanced to produce this version. "The difference between photojournalism and photography is ethics," says photographer Francesco Zizola. "We are good at trying out possibilities without overstepping limits."

Foto: Francesco Zizola/ Noor/ toned by 10b photography
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Original version of protesters sitting under a plastic tarp in Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor
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Here is the version sent out to clients by 10b. Critics refer to the asthetic as the "Italian look," which has become quite fashionable.

Foto: Yuri Kozyrev/ Noor/ toned by 10b photography
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