What are World Press Photo's rules and standards on manipulation?


  1. For the second year in a row, World Press Photo rejected a number of of entries - 20 out of a total of 92 entries - in the penultimate round for manipulation.
  2. The standards the 2014 and 2015 juries used were communicated publicly last year. But in the wake of this year's announcement I want, as Secretary to the General jury, to set them out clearly as there is some confusion in the reporting of the 2015 contest.
  3. This Storify was first published on 13 February 2015. I have updated it on 18 February 2015 with new material at the end.
  4. I tweeted these points in response to a good point from Ashley Gilbertson:
  5. Here are the seven tweets that summarise the contest rule and the standards:
  6. One important exception to the prohibition on adding/removing content relates to the cleaning of dust and scratches. The jury accepts current standards in the industry which allow for this by cloning.
  7. The examples provided in the above link on my web site give a good demonstration of the sort of issues found. The material that is being added or substracted to/from images is generally very small, but nonetheless crosses the line established by the contest rule. It generally seems to be part of effort to "clean up" images (beyond dust and scratches) rather than change their meaning. But it is still not acceptable.
  8. I want to point out where some of the reporting today has not been quite clear on the issues, process or standards:
  9. The opening paragraph in this TIME report says entries were disqualified "in the ultimate round." That is not correct. They were rejected from the penultimate round. That is the round from which a long list is selected, and it is from that long list that prize winners are selected.
  10. 18 February: TIME corrected this wording.
  11. No entry was disqualified for "too much Photoshop." They were rejected for manipulation if they added/removed content to/from the image by either cloning or substantial toning. Levels of processing that did not add/remove content do not break the contest rule.
  12. 18 February: James Estrin produced a lengthy Lens post on this issue on 17 February, and I have included that below.
  13. This BJP article is good and has some helpful quotes on the process. It is worth commenting on the last quote from Bob Martin, who said "“if it is a news competition we must have the same standards across all categories”. That is the situation for the World Press Photo contest. The same standards are applied to all categories, including Portraits.
  14. Finally, Ashley Gilbertson asked: