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Ethics, Computers and Photojournalism

Richard Lautens, Staff Photographer


Many thanks to those of you who came out the Henrys Photo show at the international Centre to see Jim Rankin, Steve Russell, Rick Madonik and myself.  It is always a pleasure meeting fellow photo-enthusiasts.

Perhaps the most asked question (next to the one about my long hair in the promo photo) was concerning Photoshop and computer manipulation.  This seems to be a hot topic.

The advent of easy to use digital cameras and various photo editing and manipulations software made photography fun for a new hoard of photographers.  With this new technology a new art form was born but the ability of many people to discern the truthful image from the false became almost impossible.

A number of famous digital manipulations were called out on the carpet, including the famous shark leaping for the helicopter, OJ Simpson on the cover of Newsweek and the cover of The Day In The Life Of America to name a few. Public confidence in photojournalism was being eroded.

We take this very seriously at the Star.  We do not sell newspaper, websites or ads – ultimately we sell integrity.  If you don’t believe us, you go elsewhere.  It is a simple equation.

We try to bring you a visually truthful representation of events.  Period. 

In terms of Photoshop and other software, we do traditional darkroom techniques such as lightening, darkening, cropping and colour balance.  If we go to any greater lengths for features like food or fashion, we tell you by calling it a ‘photo illustration’ in the bottom right hand corner.

We take a lot of pride in our work and spend many hours of learning new technique, working on stories and frankly just plain waiting for the right moment.  Occasionally life is just plain messy and so are the photos.

For a full explanation of our photography Code of Ethics, please check out our website at  http://www.thestar.com/article/145048.


Richard Lautens/Toronto Star


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Richard, I enjoyed your session at the Henry's show on Sunday very much - it was very inspiring. Thank you! Here's a shot I took of you after your talk: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/4023943331/


I really enjoy this blog -- the great photos that didn't make it to press, and the thoughts and comments of the photogs -- and drop by about once a month to check out what's new.

Your comments about photo manipulation brought me back to another blog I check every other week or so, photoshop disasters, where I saw this -- http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/2009/10/star-back-handed.html

I guess I have to wonder why such a mundane shot seems to have been manipulated by The Star or if there is another explanation.

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