SEPTEMBER 29, 2013

This photo was distributed by the Associated Press (AP) with the caption: “In a photo taken, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, a Syrian opposition fighter takes cover during an exchange of fire with government forces in Telata village, a frontline located at the top of a mountain in the Idlib province countryside of Syria.”

After releasing this photo to the AP, Narciso Contreras admitted he had digitally removed his colleague’s video camera from the lower lefthand corner, worried that it might distract viewers. Narciso accomplished this by cloning pieces of the background in Photoshop.

Contreras’ image manipulation violated the Associated Press’ ethic guidelines, resulting in the agency immediately severing ties with the photojournalist.

In an interview in the heat of the controversy, Contreras stated: “I made a horrible mistake and I accept full responsibility for it...I’m ashamed about that, but I’m not ashamed about doing what I believe is my duty: showing the suffering of the Syrian people caused by the war.” Contreras extensively photographed the conflict in Syria throughout 2013, helping the Associated Press to win a Pulitzer Prize for it’s coverage.

"AP’s reputation is paramount and we react decisively and vigorously when it is tarnished by actions in violation of our ethics code,” AP Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon wrote in a statement. “Deliberately removing elements from our photographs is completely unacceptable and we have severed all relations with the freelance photographer in question. He will not work for the AP again in any capacity.”
- Associated Press, "AP reacts to alteration of photo"

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Image copyright Narciso Contreras