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Photo editing guidelines

In order to ensure our tradition of accuracy, truthfulness and realism in illustrating university publications, these standards should be applied in relation to photographic manipulation and techniques.

It is important to understand that regardless of standards in place, responsibility for truthfulness, accuracy and attractive design lies in the professional judgment and experience of individual staff members.In general, photographic images should not be altered from the reality they represent. Clear, honest and accurate communication with readers is what the University of Missouri seeks to attain with its printed and Web communications.

Our goal is to produce images that are credible, believable and genuine. We do our work at the University of Missouri, the home of the world’s first School of Journalism and birthplace of the profession of photojournalism.

Editorial photographs

Photos used to illustrate news and feature stories in periodicals should not be manipulated beyond the traditional photographic techniques of lens selection, cropping, dodging/burning, color toning and enhancement. This includes photographs that appear in periodicals such as MIZZOU, Mizzou Weekly, Illumination and Mizzou Magic.

For such news photos, the photo’s content, the positions and appearance of persons and objects should never be changed or manipulated. Enhancing the technical quality of a photograph is acceptable, but changing anything to alter the meaning is not. Digital equivalents of established darkroom practices such as dodging/burning, toning and cropping are permitted, as are color and tonal corrections to ensure accurate printing of the original. Also, technical touch up of for the purposes of color balance and removal of dust to achieve better reproduction is acceptable.Digital tools may be used to diminish visual elements, but should never be used to eliminate those elements entirely.

Photos created to illustrate broad themes or concepts in which photographic or computer techniques are used to enhance a photograph should clearly be credited as a photo illustration.Caption explanations should be included in cases where digital techniques are employed in images that are not apparent to the viewer. This includes photos in which multiple images are realistically merged into one (photo stitching). A test photographers, designers and editors should apply when considering altering an image is to answer these questions:

How might the meaning of the photo change if it were altered? Who benefits if the image were altered? Would the photojournalist be comfortable telling a reader how the image was altered?

Marketing publications

Photos used to advertise and market an institution can present unique challenges to photographic journalism. Frequently, art directors are involved in creating the images to fit into specific layouts, match a color palette or ensure a uniform artistic style. In terms of this office’s use, the purpose of this type of photography is to put the institution in a good light to appeal to a target audience. In such instances, photo sessions are sometimes staged to show a particular location with students participating in academic or social situations.

Artificial lighting is sometimes used to enhance color and composition, and typographical considerations often factor into photo composition.

Even if a photograph is a setup situation, the broad guidelines of truthfulness and accuracy should be the basis of these images. Actual students must be portrayed in situations that are fair and accurate representations of real life. While the manipulation of the setting, clothing or groupings may occur as the image is being made, it is still wise to follow a basic rule of prohibiting digital manipulation in the post-production.

If artistic, graphic or composition requirements suggest the need to digitally manipulate a marketing image, photographers, designers and editors should convene face-to-face to discuss the ramifications before any alteration occurs.

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