Instagram, Viddy, Hipstamatic… there are so many vintage photo and video filter apps these days, it almost feels unacceptable to publish a picture unless it’s undergone the retro filter treatment. But not according to National Geographic magazine. The publication seems to have received so many edited photos that the director of photography has published a new guideline that asks photographers to “please stop” with the alterations.
Of course, this all seems quite appropriate. National Geographic prides itself in exceptional photographic work that need little to no editing in order to show the world as authentically as possible. We’re not sure what prompted the director of photography to release the new guidelines for their “Your Shot” segment, but perhaps photo submitters are getting too comfortable with the help of Photoshop and whatever popular filters these days that something needed to be done.
“If you use one of the myriad alteration “filters” available in your digital photo software, please stop,” the guideline pleads. “If you have digitally added or removed anything, please don’t submit the shot. We look at every photo to see if it’s authentic, and if we find that yours is in any way deceptive, we’ll disqualify it.”
Does Instagram actually count as “deception”? I have to admit, even at Internet Week New York a few weeks ago, a photographer told me he prefers using vintage filters because “it makes people look better.” (Yes, I judged him a little.)
Other points of the guideline ask that photographers refrain from using fisheye lens and minimize the use of burn and dodge tools to darken highlights and brighten shadows (respectively) before the photo looks ‘overdone.’ Don’t get the magazine wrong — National Geographic has nothing against Instagram. In fact, it has its own account with photos of travel wonders that have clearly been edited with filters. It just doesn’t want Your Shot submissions to start looking like an Instacanvas gallery.
We have to agree with the director. A lot of times we use Flickr and other Creative Commons resources to find art for our posts, and we come across too many Instagram-type photos that simply do not work. Please keep those retro-filtered photos on your social media accounts and separate from what you’d call professional work. If the National Geographic won’t allow for it any time soon, that’s saying quite a bit. Now if only we can get magazines to minimize the use of Photoshop to begin with, especially when it comes to portraits…
Image Credit: Cult of Mac