As ESPN’s Lee Corso says, “Not so fast, my friends!” The Associated Press recently suspended its distribution of source material from the U.S. Army’s Public Information Office after receiving this clumsy alteration of Ann Dunwoody, the first female four-star general.
What’s the powersports connection? PR 101 teaches that above all never poison the well. Product enhancement is not only routine but expected, but if your goal is communicating actual events and one of the proofs is an authentic visual record, risking acceptance by changing content is a big no-no.
We couldn’t live without Photoshop, or its close cousin Fireworks. And we’re not really sure where the line is drawn regarding manipulation, although the AP states none, never, under any circumstances. By that we assume they include sharpening, hue and saturation, levels and curves as well as wholesale swapping out of backgrounds.
Photo retouching was once a craft practiced by a handful of artists and we still refer to alterations as “airbrushing” even though those days are gone forever.
Today’s programs automate many of the techniques that once took hours, but in the end photo manipulation should have one goal: positive enhancement that serves a purpose.
If you really want to help out a publication, distribute the original as a PSD complete with layer alterations, along with a final JPG. The photo editor will thank you.