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Written by Pedro Meyer   


It seems that nowadays there are more cancelled prizes, declared as void, etcetera, than awarded. And it always revolves around the manipulation issue.

This time it goes like this:

Luis Valtueña's contest first prize revoked because of the manipulation made to one of the photographs.

Editorial Department. Médicos del Mundo (Doctors of the World) has finally decided to declare null and void the first place given to the Italian photographer Francesco Cocco for his article about Afghanistan, awarded in the thirteenth edition of the Humanitarian Photography International Award Luis Valtueña.


Through a rather plain press release, the jury mentions the non-fulfillment of the award’s rules –specifically point 4, which refers to photograph alteration- as an argument to revoke the award.


In spite there are no more details given, weeks ago one of the photographs in this article, -one where several women covered by a “burka” can be seen-, was being questioned. The first suspicions arose when some observers, alien to the contest organization, stated that the image seemed to have been manipulated, in particular to clone one of the women.



©  Francesco Cocco


Curiously, this same work by Cocco has been awarded this year at China International Press Photo Contest.

Doctors of the World has also informed about its decision declaring the first prize null and void, and cancelling the grant that was given to the photographer in order to develop a project in collaboration with this non governmental organization.


More information about this news:

Jury's press release

The question that appeals to us is if we are ever going to realize this is a lost battle, because of the simple reason that the juries do not have either good or solid arguments to stand up to their decisions.


I keep on thinking about the war against drug traffic taking place here in México. It’s the same idea. Instead of taking in consideration that drug problem is not solved by prohibiting them, but by rehabilitation and education. The image manipulation issue should be perfectly acceptable, under certain circumstances. But those circumstances are the ones the organizers of these contests, do not dare to define.


In this award winning photo’s case, I consider irrelevant that it was manipulated, more important is that I think it is a bad photo. And if the jury didn’t realize about the rough manipulation, meaning: bad image quality, then, those who we have to question are the members of the jury and not the photographer.




Comments (7)
  • Sebastian Fund
    Pedro...De acuerdo contigo,no es muy buena la foto,pero la alteracion,tampoco es buena.
    Si se hubiera realizado con la capacidad tecnica atreveria a jurar que ese jurado
    ( y muchos otros..) no lo notarian.Todo este asunto a generado una polemica que llega hasta el terreno filosofico.
    Pero creo que la cosa en un sentido es simple.
    La imagen digital sumada a los programas como Photoshop...han dinamitado tecnicamente la documentacion fotografica.Ahora en el plano de las creencias, uno puede creer que alguna vez existio la fotografia objetiva o en los Reyes Magos,quizas por haber sido fotografo de prensa ( de aquellos que saben como manipular para lograr que la imagen diga lo que uno quiere) no creo en la objetividad fotografica pero ,eso si,todavia creo en los Reyes...

    Max Fund

  • daniel tapia sanchez  - la condicion de manipular
    Cuando estudiamos fotografía nuestros profesores dicen: ve en busca de la imagen, regresabamos al laboratorio, revelamos encontramos sombras claros-oscuros en fin puede ser una mala foto, esto en blanco y negro, pero tenemos nuestra ampliadora claro de luz como debe ser manipulada una imagen mejorar tonos, granular, en fin después se pasa a la mac, que geniales son mas manipulación el autor universitario entiende que manipular en los concursos no es un inconveniente, no es para concurso terminala porque el trimestre de foto pasa y rapaido, entonces caes en la educación de origen hacen un perfecto manipulador, que no es asi la fotografía de autor hay que manipular para mejorar el discurso, el ojo ve lo que el cerebro quiere que veas, las imagenes se construyen a paratir de ideas y sueños, de realidad o ficción de conceptos y similitudes, que hay que reprochar a un jurado, respuesta nada el autor no es autor es creador de la imagen para quien para el público, para la sociedad de masas, para su familia o para su colección personal, quien es mejor el manioulador fotografo o el jurado manipulador.
  • bully  - Back to the Same
    Could someone list for my information the criteria applied in judging the various categories?
    As an educator of long standing in the field of the fine arts I would like to be able to view images through the eyes of the assessors. Without this information it is almost impossible to be in rhythm.

    Take care
  • Ronald Margolis  - awards
    One must follow the rules. However what is manipulation? A wide angle lens, cropping,
    focus, film and programs in capturing process,
    aperture, speed the image was taken. It would seem to me if no manipulation is allowed then manipulation should be defined. Who would we choose to make the definition-thank of the arguments- a new talmud section for sure
  • Nathan Avery  - Inept Jury
    I would argue that in this photo the manipulation is a too significant a change in the image to ignore. Although I sometimes disagree with the revoking of awards do to frivolous manipulations, this one is too great to ignore, as a "burka" that wasnt in its current position in the original photo has been cloned in. Although the jury didnt find the change by themselves, they still have a responsibility to disqualify anyone who manipulates a submitted image. Finally, the photo itself doesnt really seem like award winning material to me either. Apparently, the jury was simply inept, both in their choosing of this photo as a winner and in their failure to catch a major manipulation.
    With better judging panels, so many awards wouldnt have to be revoked, and images with better quality would win contests they deserve to win.
  • Enrique Soto  - Entrar a concurso es respetar las bases
    Coincido con Pedro que la foto es relativamente mala. Pero creo que si las bases de un concurso dicen que la foto no debe ser manipulada signficiativamente (es decir agregando o quitando elementos), entonces, presentar una foto manipulada es un fraude.
    Nadie obliga a nadie entrar a un concurso y si uno percibe que el jurado es malo, o que las bases del concurso son inadecuadas, pues simplemente uno no se presenta a ese concurso y basta. No se discute m{as y que cada quien haga con su concurso lo que quiera. Pero cuestionar a posteriori las bases del concurso es inaceptable.
  • juan Carlos Moratinos  - la fotografía también es para pensarla
    No todos los jurados dan verguenza, muy pocos razonan su veredicto y la mayoría asocia fotografía y verdad. Cultivan en su espíritu un cierto gozo por la pureza del medio sin saber qué es.
    Es obvio que carezcan de argumentos la fotografía no es sólo para mirarla y hacerla, también hay que pensarla.
    La manipulación de la fotografía claro que es aceptable, se ha hecho desde siempre, lo inaceptable es la falsificación, la descontextualización deliberada para desinformar o mal informar, a la fotografía que ocupa este comentario no le afecta la intervención porque parece no significar nada.
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