13 May 2016
Let down and confused.
For years I have regarded National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry as one of the greatest living photographers. His photo of the Afghan girl -above- is one of the most recognised photos ever,up there with Annie Liebowitz's photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed and her photo of a nude and very pregnant Demi Moore.
Steve McCurry's work has been a major source of inspiration for my own photography and I have regarded him as a master craftsman who has produced many superb photos due to a combination of a wonderful eye,excellent technique,luck and patience.
But now a scandal has broken out. It seems as if Photoshop also plays a role in some of his photos. And not just a minor role.
Most photographers nowadays use Lightroom and/or Photoshop to adjust and optimise their photos-me included-but it does seem as if Steve McCurry has gone further than optimisation and has manipulated key elements of some of his photos-he has added and removed people and objects.
You can read the full story and see examples on Steve McCurry
To me his statement sounds evasive. Blaming the poor hapless technician for sloppy work totally misses the point. The issue surely is whether the lab technician should have been Photoshopping the photo in that way at all. McCurry can argue that he should be free to do what he wants with his own photos for his own use but where they are presented and published as photojournalism -as many of them are-then different rules apply. To me, and I am sure many others, the appeal of all of McCurry's photos is their apparent authenticity-the capturing of a scene or a person as he saw it at the instant the photo was taken.
To find out that the some of the scenes are not authentic is very disappointing. To me it is a breach of faith-verging on dishonesty.
Will the scandal damage McCurry's towering reputation? Time will tell but it's certainly left me feeling let down and confused but I guess that's the norm nowadays-too many let downs and too much confusion.
It's also prompted me to ask myself whether maybe I should not be trying to take better photos but instead just be learning to be better at using Photoshop.