The snappily named website pressefotografforbundet.dk has an intriguing story (fortunately for me, in English) about an entrant in the annual Danish Picture Of The Year competition.

The judges asked to see photographer Klavs Bo Christensen’s RAW files. On comparing them with his entries, they decided his Photoshopping was somewhat on the Extreme side, and they threw him out of the competition.

The competition rules state “Photos submitted to Picture of The Year must be a truthful representation of whatever happened in front of the camera during exposure. You may post-process the images electronically in accordance with good practice. That is cropping, burning, dodging, converting to black and white as well as normal exposure and color correction, which preserves the image’s original expression. The Judges and exhibition committee reserve the right to see the original raw image files, raw tape, negatives and/or slides. In cases of doubt, the photographer can be pulled out of the competition.”

You can read the whole story, and see Christensen’s RAW and processed images, here.

Frankly I think he went way over the top, and they were right to ban him. To my eye, his RAW images are preferable to the garish artificiality of the Photoshopped images.

I’d be interested to hear what you think.

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8 Responses to “Danish Photographer Off The Job”

  1. ben shipley says:

    I rather liked the last 2 of the 3 photos shown – not as stock, obviously, but as fine art or propaganda photos or something like that. They definitely tell a violent and vivid story. It surprises me that the judges called for the raw files – you can clearly see the photoshopping in these photos, so why didn’t they just hit the discard button?

    It seems to me that photography, like any work of art, should be taken at face value – did anyone ask Van Gogh for his original drawings of Starry Night (talk about over the top!)? Does anyone think that the Desmoiselles d’Avignon looked anything like Picasso’s painting? Here, the photographer created an abstraction out of reality – to describe it as other than truthful seems a bit odd.

    Doesn’t mean anyone has to buy it, of course. And these definitely don’t meet the competition guidelines.

  2. Gwyn Headley says:

    I completely agree with your second paragraph, but the competition was organised by the PRESSEfotograffwhatever and I suspect it was intended to promote reportage photography. Christensen was producing artworks from his originals. The originals were more harrowing.

  3. ben shipley says:

    The originals were definitely hairy – not to mention the experience of taking them. We have stumbled into some pretty nerve-wracking situations, but the other side of the tracks in port-au-prince would be a special case.

  4. Jim Walker says:

    The Photoshopped photos were indeed good examples of “Fine Art” photography. But, they were not representative of what was really seen. This is also a good example of how a photograph can change the perception of a story. The re-worked photos were much more dramatic than the originals. I agree with the judges, it was not fair to include them in a competition where others were following the rules.

  5. David Challenor says:

    Gwyn,

    That website has now removed the story, apparently, “.. at the photographers request…”.

    Just thought I’d let you know.

  6. peta ward says:

    I remember this story, and the images. I notice that many, many pictures on fotolibra are.. well, massively over processed.. they look great.. but they look unreal.

    What are picture buyers looking for, instant graitification, or realistic images.

    I don’t want to spend my time over processing my pictures, when there is no point. At the same time, if this is what publishers are looking for the I guess I will do it.

    If I were buying a picture I would want a RAW (DNG) to give to my art dept to play with.

    What’s the coup Gwyn?

  7. Gwyn Headley says:

    Peta, wasn’t it you who decided that fotoLibra would only accept TIFF or JPEG files?
    It turns out that commercial print buyers only want JPEGs.

  8. peta ward says:

    aye Gwyn, LoL, thanks for the reply. Well I am glad that the options have been narrowed down. Don’t recall having the necessaries to convert RAW images on the server to view online at the time. It is still hard enough to get photoshop to open them 🙂 So I guess it was me who decided fotolibra ‘could’ (rather than ‘would’) only accept TIFF or JPEG. Resedent realist.

    Things have moved on, hence my question. It is not really about the image format, but the processed result.

    Publishers may want JPGs that is fine, but to get granular (lol) are heavily processed over saturated arty images selling better than more ‘true’ images. Of course a good quality unprocessed JPG can be played with a great deal, and I am sure that the buyer could ask for a RAW DNG version of the image if they really want it. Who would be foolish enough to upload to fotolibra and not keep the DNG? No one I am sure.

    Appart from anything else, if a publisher requires images for a picture heavy book, unless all the pictures are by the same photographer, using similar enhancement techniques, heavily processed images may be at a disadvantage, as they would stand out like a sore thumb.

    Is composition, content and form more interesting than instant eye candy?

    I guess I can answer this myself, and you have probably recommended it before, by suggesting that if one thinks a shot is truly marketable, a couple of versions, e.g. arty and minimally processed would make sense.

    ATB