“Post-production in photography is an art”

While some critics question the use of Photoshop, Marie Hald, the award – wining Danish photographer by the World Press Photo, considers it a valid tool.

By Verónica Sánchez

Some critics say that with PhotoShop the pictures look like movie posters loosing their impact. World Press Photo of the Year. 'Gaza Burial' by Paul Hansen

Some critics say that with PhotoShop the pictures look like movie posters loosing their impact. World Press Photo of the Year. ‘Gaza Burial’ by Paul Hansen

As long as the photographer does not remove or alter the image substantially there is nothing wrong in using Photoshop, says Marie Hald.

“It’s sort of an art,” reflects the Danish photographer, whose portrait of Bonnie, a 38 years old prostitute in Copenhagen, won 2nd prize at the recent World Press Photo awards.

“It is a way of making pictures beautiful to look at.”

The limits of post-production
This year the most prestigious contest of photojournalism arose some controversy with its main winner: Paul Hansen. The Swedish photojournalist obtained the Photo of the Year 2012 with the image of a children’s funeral in Gaza during the last period of violence.

In the picture, angered and sorrowful men carry through an alley of Gaza the two brothers killed by an Israeli missile on November 20th, 2012. Wrapped in white sheets, the bodies are taken to a mosque.

But the edition of the image has brought back the debate about the limits of the post-production. It is clearly visible in the photograph when it is compared with the original published version in the Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish newspaper.

Hansen explained that the aspect of the photo was a result of a moment in which the light bounced off the walls of the street.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the jury, Santiago Lyon, underlined that the Swedish photographer’s work was acceptable in terms of the parameters of the industry.

However, critics have not doubted that Hansen’s photograph meets the rules of the contest. What they say is that the edition has affected the impact of the image in the people.

Allen Murabayash, an American photographer and head of Photoshelter, a website service for photographers, thinks that Hansen’s and other pictures awarded in the WPP look like movie posters.

“(…) when images cease to look real and to be overly retouched, we have a veracity problem,” he stated (Photoshelter blog, 19/02/2013).

Ana Prieto, a critic of culture for Clarín newspaper, suggested that with the manipulation of the picture this fails in provoking the viewer to reflect.

“Gaza Burial does not require the viewer nothing but the occasional indignant phrase ‘how awful!’ Before turning the page and forget about it completely,” she mentioned in the article ‘Post-production of the pain’. (Ñ,19/02/2013).

Hald, the Danish awarded photographer, perceives that the majority of the critics of the usage of Photoshop come from the United States, “where they have a different opinion of it.”

She openly shares that she uses this tool regularly to darken, sharper and add contrast to some aspects in order to improve the image.

“If you start doing more: changing the colours completely or removing things or making something totally black that wasn’t black, then I say it’s over-doing”.

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