NOVEMBER 20, 2012 

Swedish photographer Paul Hansen won the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year award for this image. The photo is published on the World Press Photo (WPP) site with the following caption: “The bodies of two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his elder brother Muhammad, almost four, are carried by their uncles to a mosque for their funeral, in Gaza City. The children were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on 19 November. The strike also killed their father, Fouad, and severely injured their mother and four other siblings.”

Due to the intense colors and lighting in the photo, Hansen was accused of faking this image through the use of Photoshop. World Press Photo submitted the image files for a forsenic analysis and was able to “confirm the integrity” of Hansen’s photo, claiming they found “no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing.”

Hansen stated that in the post-production process he toned and balanced the uneven light in the alleyway, “in effect to recreate what the eye sees and get a larger dynamic range.”  Many others believed his Photoshop manipulation acheived just the opposite.

Although WPP upheld their decision, the controversy surrounding the photo sparked conversation about these editing techniques. In Allen Murabayashis’ piece “Why Do Photo Contest Winners Look Like Movie Posters?” on PetaPixel, a leading photography blog, he writes that Hansen’s photo “looks like an illustration.” Murabayashi continues, “When images cease to look real and to be overly retouched, we have a veracity problem. And if we subscribe to the common ethos of photojournalism (i.e. that we are trying not to deceive the viewer), then we have an increasingly enigmatic issue.”

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Image copyright Paul Hansen