A photographer has today defended his digital manipulation of an image that led to his disqualification from the World Press Photo competition.

Yesterday, judges disqualified Stepan Rudik, winner of the 3rd prize story in Sports Features.

Rudik admitted that he had digitally removed part of a foot belonging to a person seen in the background of one of the images he had entered.

The Ukranian photographer had entered a series of b&w photos entitled? Street fighting, Kiev, Ukraine?.

In a bid to defend his reputation as a ‘reportage photographer’ Rudik today (Thursday) told us that he does not dispute the jury’s decision. But he added: ‘It is clear that I haven’t made a significant alteration or removed any important informative detail.

‘The photograph I submitted is a crop and the retouched detail is the foot of a man which appears in the original photograph but who is not a subject of the image submitted to the contest (see pictures below).’

Last year we revealed that digital manipulation of images was set to be more strictly policed by judges.

Photographers were – for the first time – required to submit the ‘raw’ image file if the judging panel suspects that a ‘news’ photo has been digitally manipulated.

The move came as ‘wire’ services tightened up their criteria for publishing such pictures.

The full statement, as issued by World Press Photo yesterday (Wednesday), can be read below:

Amsterdam, 3 March 2010

Announcement of disqualification

World Press Photo has, after careful consultation with the jury, determined that is was necessary to disqualify Stepan Rudik, winner of the 3rd prize story in Sports Features, due to violation of the rules of the World Press Photo Contest.

Following the announcement of the contest results, it came to the attention of World Press Photo that Rudik’s story had violated a contest rule. After requesting RAW-files of the series from him, it became clear that an element had been removed from one of the original photographs.

The rule reads: “The content of the image must not be altered. Only retouching which conforms to the currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed.”

In the opinion of the jury, the photographer ventured beyond the boundary of what is acceptable practice. Consequently, this judgment left World Press Photo no choice but to disqualify Rudik.

Michiel Munneke, managing director of World Press Photo said, “After careful consideration, we found it imperative to disqualify the photographer from the contest. The principle of World Press Photo is to promote high standards in photojournalism. Therefore, we must maintain the integrity of our organization even when the outcome is regrettable.”

The disqualification means that the award will be revoked and that the story will be removed from the World Press Photo website and will not be included in the annual catalog and exhibition.



Picture credits: Stepan Rudik


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