Someone recently posted a link on my Facebook page pointing to a humorous Slate piece called “Cats of War.” I figure it came from the articles written about the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden, and how they brought a dog with them. But I didn’t have the the same reaction as others.
I did not find it funny at all. In fact, I wondered how Getty could sell news photos to Slate when they were going to be Photoshopping cats into the photos. Now Slate labeled the photos as “photo illustrations,” bit I was curious why Getty would allow that to happen.
In the days when I was a photo editor there was a sense that news photos were objects not to be played around with. In fact, before you used a news photo from an agency like Getty you asked where it had or had not appeared before. Doesn’t it devalue the photos now that people have seen them with cats added into the action?
One of the images is by Darren McCollester, and shot with night vision in either Iraq or Afghanistan (I believe). How do the Getty photographers feel about risking their lives for photographs that will be sold in order to be Photoshopped for a joke? That’s a photo that cannot ever be used again for a news story.
If it was a Chris Hondros photo would that be alright? Is it that the photos don’t matter to Getty, or the photographers, so they don’t care if cats are added to the photograph?
I emailed Pancho Bernasconi at Getty about this but have yet to hear back. I know that Getty has a lot to deal with, and is reeling from the death of Chris Hondros in Libya. But I do think someone needs to speak out about this, and someone else needs to answer. If I ever get a response I will report it here.
What do you think?