The use of Photoshop

January 18, 2007

david-schlesinger 2.jpgPhotoshop is a highly sophisticated image manipulation programme. We use only a tiny part of its potential capability to format our pictures, crop and size them and balance the tone and colour.

Materially altering a picture in Photoshop or any other image editing software will lead to dismissal.
 No additions or deletions to the subject matter of the original image.
   (thus changing the original content and journalistic integrity of an image)
 No excessive lightening, darkening or blurring of the image.
   (thus misleading the viewer by disguising certain elements of an image)
  No excessive colour manipulation.
    (thus dramatically changing the original lighting conditions of an image)

 Only minor Photoshop work should be performed in the field.
(Especially from laptops). We require only cropping, sizing and levels with resolution set to 300dpi. Where possible, ask your regional or global picture desks to perform any required further Photo-shopping on their calibrated hi-resolution screens. This typically entails lightening/darkening, sharpening, removal
of dust and basic colour correction.
 When working under prime conditions, some further minor Photo-shopping (performed within the above rules) is acceptable.

This includes basic colour correction, subtle lightening/darkening of zones, sharpening, removal of dust and other minor adjustments that fall within the above rules. Reuters recommendations on the technical settings for these adjustments appear below.  The level of Photoshop privileges granted to photographers should be at the discretion of the Chief/Senior Photographers within the above guidelines. All photographers should understand the limitations of their laptop screens and their working environments.

Photographers should trust the regional and global pictures desks to carry out the basic functions to prepare their images for the wire.  All EiCs and sub editors from regional and the global desks will be trained in the use of Photoshop by qualified Adobe trainers to a standard set by senior pictures staff.  The photographer can always make recommendations via the Duty Editor. Ask the desk to lighten the face, darken the left side, lift the shadows etc. Good communication with the desk is essential.
Cloning, Healing or Brush Tools are not to be used. The single exception to this rule is sensor dust removal. The cloning tool will only be used below the 100 pixels radius setting. Unless performed on a well-calibrated screen under good working conditions we strongly recommend photographers to request dust removal by pictures desks.
Saturation should not be used. It affects image quality and cannot be judged well on a laptop screen and adds nothing more than what can be achieved in levels.

Colour Balance adjustment should be kept to the minimum, especially on laptop
screens which tend to have a blue dominance.
Levels should only be adjusted to the start points of the histogram graph on both shadows and highlights.
Auto Levels should not be used.
The Burn Tool in most cases should only used to subtly darken areas that have been overexposed. When the burn tool is used in shadows a visible element of everything that can be seen in the raw file must remain visible.
Highlights and Shadows can be toned by using the selective highlights tool, a feather of 25-30 and then adjusted in curves.
The Lasso Tool should not be used when using a laptop to file pictures. It is essential that great care is taken with this tool to avoid the halo effect which is produced when the feathering is too great and the tonal change bleeds over into the unselected zone. Likewise, not enough feathering will produce a vivid jagged edge to the lasso area. Typically a feathering setting of between 5 and 20 pixels is used, depending on the size and positioning of the zone. Again we strongly recommend this is handled by desks.
The Eye Dropper can be used on a neutral gray area to set colour. But is dependent on the quality of the computer screen to determine if you are in fact seeing a real gray!
Sharpening should be set at zero (0) in the camera. Pictures may then be sharpened by  300% at a radius of 0.3, threshold 0, in Photoshop.
No selective area sharpening should be done.
Third-party Sharpening Plug-ins is not permitted.
Third-party Noise-Reduction Plug-ins should be avoided but are acceptable if Chief Photographers are convinced they are being used properly.
Camera Settings, in particular saturation (and Image Styles in the Canon 5D)
should be set to standard with the exception of in-camera sharpening which
should be turned OFF. The Color setting Adobe RGB is the Reuters standard.
Multiple-Exposure pictures must be clearly identified in the caption and drawn to the attention of pictures desks before transmission.
To Recap:
 Adjustment of Levels to histogram limits
 Minor colour correction 
 Sharpening at 300%, 0.3, 0   
 Careful use of lasso tool   
 Subtle use of burn tool   
 Adjustment of highlights and shadows 
 Eye dropper to check/set gray  


 Additions or deletions to image
 Cloning & Healing tool (except dust)
 Airbrush, brush, paint
 Selective area sharpening
 Excessive lightening/darkening
 Excessive colour tone change
 Auto levels
 Eraser tool
 Quick Mask
 In-camera sharpening
 In-camera saturation styles
The above list is not exhaustive. Duty editors will be available to answer any questions on use of other functions not mentioned above including latest CS2 and upcoming CS3 functions.
                                    SET-UPS/STAGING OF PICTURES

Reuters photographers, staff and freelance, must not stage or re-enact news events. They may not direct the subjects of their images or add, remove or move objects on a news assignment. Our news photography must depict reality. Any attempt to alter that reality constitutes fabrication and can lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal.

Photographers may direct the subjects of portraits, formal interviews and non-news feature images needed to illustrate a story. The caption must not mislead the reader into believing these images are spontaneous.

The presence of the media can often influence how subjects behave. When the behavior shown is the result of the medias presence, our captions must make that clear.  If photographers from outside Reuters orchestrate or set up scenes, it is still a set-up. 

The best news photography occurs when the presence of the camera is not noticeable. Photographers should be as unobtrusive as possible to avoid influencing events and consider using long lenses.

Composite images that show the progression of an event (e.g. lunar eclipse, time lapse) must indicate the technique in their captions. They are never acceptable in a news assignment. Captions must also make clear when a specialty lens (e.g. lens babies, tilt-shift lenses) or a special technique (e.g. soft focus, zooming) has been used to create an image in portraiture or on a features assignment.

Handout images from outside sources should be examined carefully for accuracy and news value. Questionable handout images will be reviewed by the Duty Editor in Charge, whose decision is final on whether they are published. Photographers or Editors who pass on handout images must alert the Duty EIC if the image is suspect.

Just as our news photographs must reflect reality, so too should our captions. They must adhere tothe basic Reuters rules of accuracy and freedom from bias and must answer the basic questions of good journalism.  Who is in the picture? Where was it taken? When was it taken? What does it show? Why is a subject doing a particular thing?

Captions are written in the present tense and should use concise, simple English. They generally consist of a single sentence but a second sentence should be added if additional context or explanation is required.

Contentious information, like death tolls in conflict, must be sourced. The caption must explain the circumstances in which a photograph was taken and state the correct date.

Captions must not contain assumptions by the photographer about what might have happened, even when a situation seems likely. Explain only what you have witnessed. All other information about an event must be sourced unless you are certain of your information.

Captions also should not make assumptions about what a person is thinking e.g. England captain David Beckham ponders his future after his team was knocked out of the World Cup soccer finals … Stick to what the photo shows and what you know.

The Duty Editor-in-Charge will come back to the photographer or the Chief Photographer with questions if the caption does not fully explain the image. For this reason, photographers must remain contactable until their work is published.

Some of our photographs are taken under controlled conditions in which photographers cannot operate freely. This is particularly true during conflicts and in countries where the medias movements are restricted.

Such photographs must say if the image was taken during an organised or escorted visit unless the photographer was truly free to work independently. The circumstances can usually be indicated in a short, second sentence in the caption. For examples, please see Appendix A of the complete Guide to Caption-Writing for Reuters.

Reuters does not stage news photos. Sometimes, subjects may strike an artificial pose, such as at a product launch, a show business event or a sports victory ceremony or when requested to do so to illustrate a feature. In some circumstances, such as during demonstrations, civil unrest, street celebrations or conflict, the presence of photographers and television crews may prompt subjects to act abnormally.

These images should be few and can be clichés. They must be clearly captioned to show the reader that the actions are not spontaneous and to explain the context. There are many ways to describe the situation without saying that the subject poses for a photograph, though we should say so when it is clearly the case.

See below a selection of examples. For a more complete set, with pictures, please see Appendix F of the complete Guide to Caption Writing for Reuters.

The Global Pictures Desk will flag any possible issues to the Chief Photographer who carries the responsibility for the file from the region in question.
Caption examples:

An employee of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd shows the media the companys new 32-Gigabit NAND flash memory card (top) and chip during a news conference in Seoul September 11, 2006. Samsung said it has developed the world’s first 32-Gigabit NAND flash memory devices.   REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (SOUTH KOREA)

Actress Helen Mirren poses with the Coppa Volpi at the Venice Film Festival September 9, 2006. Mirren won the Best Actress award for her role in director Stephen Frears’ movie ‘The Queen’. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (ITALY)

A man lies dead in the street May 7 after a NATO daylight air raid near a market over the town of Nis some 200 kilometres south of Belgrade. The Yugoslav army took media to show them damage it said the raid caused to two residential areas and a hospital. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Maathai hugs a tree for photographers in Nairobi October 9, 2004. Maathai, a Kenyan, became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the first Nobel given to an environmentalist. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

A Mexican soccer fan wearing a traditional sombrero waves his countrys flag at a photographer before a Copa America quarterfinal match against Brazil at Miguel Grau stadium in Piura, July 18, 2004. REUTERS/Henry Romero

David Schlesinger is Reuters Editor-in-Chief


This will not stop all unethical photo journalism, but hopefully will raise the standard. By setting clear standards,questionable photos will become less prevalent. I have a teen that uses photoshop techniques for reports etc. We’ve talked about how important it is to make a clear distinction between a photoshopped joke image and the real deal. You will have your work cut out for you as her generation become photo journalists.

Posted by albert riojas | Report as abusive

I have a suggestion that may help establish the “trust” mentioned in the Photoshop policy(“Photographers should trust the regional and global pictures desks … ” ).Give the photographers opportunity to compare the final result with their initial image. Of course they could scan the wire for their own image, but a much more purposeful effort would be the following: Every photographer has some kind of “Reuters account”, and when they log in, they see there all of the photos they have ever submitted, *and* if the picture was used, see the final picture with the submitted picture. You could even display the name of the operator who did the final manipulations. The photographer then gets a sense of the workflow and of the team and can see the competence of the regional office right there in their work product (the finished wire picture).

Posted by Owen Kelly | Report as abusive

Where possible, particularly when english is not the first language of a photographer, a journalist in the office should write the capition or edit it before it goes to the photo desk. This is also a very good way for reporters to develop a good working relationship with photographers.

Posted by Philip Pullella | Report as abusive

As both a photojournalist and ardent Photoshopper for over 12 years, the allure of making a photo look better in print was always there. Wanting to smooth a persons skin or even put hair back into place was an ever-present temptation, although messing with the content of the photo never crossed my mind. My philosophy was if I couldnt do it in an old fashioned dark room, I wouldnt attempt to do it with Photoshop. Digital manipulation is an ever present risk in our world, and having standards like yours will hopefully insure what the public sees is an absolute true representation of the news.

Posted by Denise | Report as abusive

I hope I got my maths right!I am a customer of your output not a photographer – I read papers.Your revised policies do sound completely laudable to me. I understand, however, that some camera makers now, and certainly Nikon, provide software that guarantees the authenticity of an image as it leaves the camera.Perhaps, for emotionally charged images, your editors might as a standard policy, compare all submitted photographs with the authenticated original to check and see precisely what modifications, if any, may have been made.

Posted by Clive Minchom | Report as abusive

No, Philip, it is the job and responsibility of the photographer to caption.

Posted by Nina | Report as abusive

One item that is not covered in this list of do’s and don’ts is the use of pixelling. Pixelling tells me that for reasons of privacy or security something is being hidden, but that no attempt is being made to mislead or deceive the reader.Who, in Reuters makes the decision as to when pixelling should be used?

Posted by Martin | Report as abusive

Denise, you say “My philosophy was if I couldnt do it in an old fashioned dark room, I wouldnt attempt to do it with Photoshop.”Photographs have always been manipulated, even in the ‘old fashioned darkroom’. Anyone who disagrees should take a look at the books like ‘The Commissar Vanishes’ by David King.And remember, the Soviets weren’t the only ones to doctor images!

Posted by Nicola | Report as abusive

Levels can alter the image dramatically too. Glad to see you put in limitations and constraints for this though.News organizations should (if they don’t already) teach their editors and staff:-how a digital image looks different than film (it is usually easy to spot the difference)-how a well doctored digital image can NOT be spotted by the naked eye and certainly without blowing up the image.-how a poorly doctored image can easily be spotted.Perhaps if news organizations hired photographers on contract, they could provide them a modified version of photoshop, ie, on their field laptop photoshop includes use of certain tools, but not others – Adobe would probably agree to do this for news organizations because they are so large. Then, only pre-screened installed software would be allowed to be installed on the laptop so they couldnt have two copies of photoshop or another edit program. Lastly, the image edit program (photoshop or whatever you use) could digitally stamp the photo so the editor knew it was coming out of that specific software package and could NOT be altered because those settings were already turned off.Just an idea :)Mikephotoshop expert using it since 1989

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Because of the link between color balance and contrast in all but LAB color spaces, not letting the midpoint be reset in levels is bound to lead to some strange colors.I do recognize the challenge here – how do you use rules to differentiate standard improvements from editorial changes in an image.


Re. my post on setting the midpoint in levels: you must mean that the master channel only should be used. This isn’t best practice (really you should use the various channels in curves also) but it would work for you. The rules don’t spell this out however. There’s also the issue of what really is the start of data at the endpoints as it’s so common to have a minuscule amount of data at the shadow and highlight ends before one really gets any data to speak of. If you mean the very first sign of data you’ll end up with low contrast in a lot of images.


As someone who corrects images in Photoshop for NON-journalistic applications I do have a couple of questions about these rules. The brush tool is off limits, but what about making a Levels adjustment layer and painting on the layer mask so that the levels only applies to one zone of an image? It has the same effect as dodging or burning but gives you much more control over the effect than those tools. If you want people to avoid the lasso tool when selecting zones for lightening or darkening with is wrong with either this method or the Quick Mask for exposure correction?

Posted by JJ | Report as abusive

I don’t know of any camera that allows sharpening to be completely disabled. You can adjust the level, but not turn it off. I could be mistaken, but I think it is a necessary step in the process of digital picture processing in a camera…

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

Cropping is deleting, if you think about it, it forces the viewer to focus on what you want them to see.Lemmings R Us

Posted by belowme | Report as abusive

I think the whole problem here springs from the fact that anyone seriously thinks that ANY photo could record “the truth”.Every photo is the result of subjective decisions made by someone: first, the camera maker; second, the photographer; third, the person who manipulates the image to achieve a visible format; fourth, the person that actually translates the image to that visible format; fifth, the person that views the image influenced by their particular prejudice; and lets not forget the mechanical whims of the device itself.Which one has more right to manipulate the image than any other? I would posit that the photographer who actually captures the photo has the main right here. I think copyright law totally agrees. Which I think makes ANY photograph a work of art NOT NEWS.I think basic integrity is something that can’t be dictated–the wily will always find ways and means to evade the letter of the law–but needs to be recognized and acknowledged over time-trust is built-or destroyed-as in the case of the DISHONEST PHOTOGRAPHER that was the genesis of all this waste of time-he weeded himself out-didn’t he?And as far as honesty: What then about reuter’s choice as to which photo and at what density etc. etc. etc. that they choose to publish? Doesn’t that manipulate the objective truth to THEIR fiduciary benefit? I think there already is a quid pro quo here that inherently clouds their judgement of what is “truth” and what is “honest”: Money.Fear of losing it. Fear of not making a sufficient amount. So to protect their money, they impose restrictions on others’ interpretations of our purely subjective world and hypocritically posit that that their own manipulation of reality, or restrictions on decisions of vision by others, is valid and morally (or better financially) irreprehensible? COME ON!Oh, and turning off in camera sharpening is totally stupid if not impossible.

Posted by Manfred Zettl | Report as abusive

“We require only cropping, sizing and levels with resolution set to 300dpi.”DPI is an often misunderstood parameter.From”The general rule is that a 300 dpi image is required for most higher-end print jobs. However, this value of 300 dpi is relative. Since dpi means dots per inch (and is equivalent to pixels per inch for our purposes here) it is meaningless unless you also know what size your image is in inches. A more meaningful measure for a computer image is its pixel dimension. This value is absolute. It should not change when you change dpi values.”

Posted by Circuitsmith | Report as abusive

Does Reuters really understand the concept of image capture, what a camera sees and what a photographer sees? With film there were obviously manipulations, manipulations to bring out the essence of an moment of news captured by a photographer from what was played out infront of the photographer’s eye and his observance of reality at that time. How can possibly that be removed from the age in digital photography? How can possibly someone at a desk in Reuters make decision of how to alter a photo to reflect a reality that occurred and is news???? That person was not present!!! How can possibly Reuters belive that what is captured with a digital camera is more real to reality that what the key person capturing at site can alter it to?? Obviously a camera does not see reality! It sees what electronics permit in limitations to be captured… this must be manipulated back to what the photographer in essence observed at the moment! I happened to find this article from Reuters with help by oday.htm (19 Jan). Please read his writing. He is a professional. I am an amateur. Let me also question Reuters why they are referring to Photoshop and why they are using Photoshop??? I gave up on Photoshop because it is not suited to photography. Please read that sentence again. Why? It does not allow you to move backwards in correction process of a RAW file. Nor does it in any way save a file of that manipulation process. I use Silkypix which does all this! and which is written for photography! Photoshop is originally written for graphic manipulations and not photography. The writing by Reuters here is in my opion a big laugh of ignorance of not only photography but also news reporting… I am not a professional photographer but a serious amateur. I am an expatriate engineer and architect with licenses in several countries, so assumably I have some brain to detect the complete nonsense of this writing, also to make judgement of what I have seen photographically in many countries and conditions. In fact this article from Reuters severly leads me to question the news reporting from Reuters. With what they express how can we possibly trust it being reality when they wish to manipulate it to a reality seen by someone in their offices that was not even at location of a news story! How can Reuters possibly as a major news reporter permit such complete lies! Any clarifications from Reuters to this seemingly grand misstep???

Posted by Anders Loof | Report as abusive

Oh, yawn.Journalism is advocacy. It is not scientific notation of empirical observation. Journalism is best when it exposes, explains and promotes a perspective. When a position is posed from someone with a known perspective, the reader/viewer understands the bias and interacts with it; either rejecting or accepting the proposition. If the journalist/photographer is neutral, there is no message and the exercise is a complete waste of time. Abandon the pretense and accept the purpose of journalism. If there is no message, there is no purpose.

Posted by Pete | Report as abusive

I’m pleased to see that you address pre-exposure manipulation too.Still, I find some pleasure in pointing to the inconsistency between allowing cropping, but disallowing deletions. What is cropping, if not deletion?I don’t understand the restriction on shift lenses. Shifting is nothing but in-camera cropping. And is cropping with perspective correction allowed?


Images are rated in PPI, not DPI. But you must also specify the size of he image along with the PPI or the whole thing is useless. Saying you will only accept 300 PPI (not DPI) images is like saying you must have eigth (8) feet of rope. Okay, what size rope do you want? 1/4 inch? 2 inch? 6 inch?Moreover any image can be produced at 300 PPI – they will just be small physically.How would you define a 100 pixel cloning area on an 80 by 65 pixel image?Wouldn’t it be simpler to just fire the people that you catch cheating or lying? This way other people would clearly understand that you mean business – instead of playing political catch-up games that no one believes?

Posted by Carl Withrow | Report as abusive

After reading your rules, I wonder how well the Adobe experts communicated with you. I am a photoshop expert, professional photographer and adjunct faculty at Brooks Institute of Photography and there are a few red flags in your rules.Let’s begin. We are dealing with pixels and not dots, so it is always ppi not dpi. A small distinction but an important one.Why would you use the lasso tool? Knowing it’s primary function is to isolate an area for additional editing leads one to believe that a vilolation is eminent.Sharpening is image specific. To require a specific setting is to ignore image content. If you have specific printing needs that you wish to match up with a sharpening protocol, then so be it. Provide a reason for the settings.There are other areas that concern me too but it is up to you to double check that you understand the issues that go hand-in-hand with pixel-based imaging.Michael Stern


Hi,This is certainly the wrong way to go.These rules will tie the hands of good photographers and suppress their creativity. This is not a replacement to good judgement. This will not solve bias as the photographer still decides where to be and where to point his/her camera to. The photographer may still shoot just the misery of one side in a conflict while shooting just the the cruelty of the other side thus displaying a biased picture without making one adjustment in photoshop.Suggestion:Make photographers submit their original photo in addition to the processed one. Use the processed photo for the article. Place the original in a page on your web-site for the public to observe.Daniel.

Posted by Daniel BenDavid | Report as abusive

Gee, back when we used film I never had an editor tell me to not burn or dodge an area in a photo to improve the image. If I decided to go high key or low key to improve an image Iwas I never told to print it “normal”, and I’ve had some editors tell me to do some pretty stupid stuff including “make him look like a crook. “Photoshop-ing” an image to change content would be wrong but to make your work look its best without altering the content should be the prime directive.


Staggering.Show me ONE photograph, from the entire history of photography, that provides an accurate, impassive, neutral image of an event.It doesn’t exist. The mere act of pointing a camera at something means the photographer has made a subjective decision. And altered reality.If this article is for real, it’s terrifying.


Nice guidelines. When will there be similar guidelines for the reporters, admonishing against the use of adjectives and adverbs?

Posted by Delbert Farr | Report as abusive

Thanks for some interesting responses, many of which we have already discussed internally during the creation of the update to our handbook.To understand the technical reasoning behind our updated guidelines it is important to understand our customer requirements and our workflow. Both of them have a direct impact on the level of image adjustment at Reuters. Over 70 percent of our pictures are shot and self-edited by our photographers, often working alone or in small teams in ‘harsh conditions’ and the rest are selected by editors working in ‘ideal conditions’.A typical case of a photographer editing and selecting his photos would be he or she shooting a picture on the street then sitting down on a park bench or in a coffee shop and running through the files on a small laptop (1024×768 resolution) screen.After selecting the image or images they want to send, they need to crop the file and slightly adjust the levels and that’s it. They will then connect to a Wifi access point or use a mobile data card (aircard) to FTP their pictures to a Reuters photo desk. This is what I call ‘harsh conditions’.We know through monitoring our file and feedback from our photo editors that if you try and do any further work on a laptop on a park bench you risk damaging the picture as it is impossible to see the results on such a poor screen. We have many examples of colour changes, over-sharpening, too much noise reduction, bad burning and dodging. It’s nothing to do with a photographer’s ability or inability to use the tool correctly, they just can’t see what they are doing.In our ‘ideal conditions’ the photographer will send a RAW file or base image or even a cropped picture to a photo editor and it is entirely possible for the two to discuss how the image should be adjusted. The editor is sitting in a perfectly lit room using high quality calibrated monitors and has also been highly trained.These guidelines are about image quality. They ensure that we don’t give over-sharpened or over-saturated pictures to our customers. We deliver pictures to newspapers, magazines, online services, TV stations and book publishers. All of them want to post-process the pictures to their own specifications. What is seen as over-sharpening to one customer can be seen as under-sharpening by another. Photographers’ RAW files are often sent to customers who want to do their own post-processing and even their own recrop.In answer to Circuitsmith on the DPI issue, we discuss our images in pixels x pixels. 300 DPI is the default in the document size field in Photoshop. This has no bearing over the actual image size and we default to 300 DPI simply because in a survey our customers asked us for this.On the ‘Photoshop Expert’ question; we deal directly with Adobe and also employ a consultant colour management expert from the UK. He does all of our editor training. I meet many so-called ‘experts’ who will all tell you something different which does not progress our operation. We go directly to our customers and to software vendors to ensure our workflows can deliver the product they expect.In answer to Owen Kelly‘s comment, there is already great trust between our editors and photographers. In fact most of our senior editors still shoot pictures. All our photographers can already see their images coming back on our wire. There is an audit trail of who dealt with each picture and who transmitted it. We work very much as a team at Reuters. It is not a case of a photographer trying to ‘sell’ a picture to an editor here and it is certainly not photographer versus editor. We are all working towards the same goal.In answer to Clive Minchom‘s comment, we have image authentication software from the camera manufacturers. We are currently working closely with Adobe and Canon to make this more ‘user friendly’ and applicable within our workflow.In answer to Mike, we have a very close relationship with Adobe and have suggested a cut-down version of Photoshop for news photographers. This is unlikely to happen. However,we are working on an authenticated image history process so changes made in Photoshop are visible to anyone looking at the XMP data. This is already partially available in Photoshop CS2 and we are making good use of it already.In answer to Anders Loof, we work closely with many industry professionals. Photoshop is an industry standard in news photography. We have used it at Reuters since the early 1990s. Every news photographer I know uses it. You are incorrect about some of your comments on Photoshop and what it can and can’t do. Please have a look at CS2 and CS3 beta if you are interested in knowing more.Let me address in-camera sharpening. When we say NO in camera sharpening we mean to change the default value in the camera to 0. In a Canon 5D for example, factory default is 3 on a scale of 0-7. We ask our photographers to change it to 0 (zero) and use the recommended sharpening levels in Photoshop. I hope this clarifies.Lastly, and most importantly. Our guidelines were written by some of the most respected photographers and editors in the news photo industry. I would estimate the collective experience of the group involved was over 150 years. The group was made up of representatives from all regions so we had a truly global view. The guidelines were not designed to stifle the creativity of our photographers. They were designed to ensure that we are able to deliver the highest possible image quality to a broad range of customers.It should also be noted that we have had workflow guidelines in place for years. These were updated to reflect answers to questions raised by our photographers and photo editors.Kevin Coombs, Senior Editor in Charge, Pictures Production

Posted by Kevin Coombs | Report as abusive

Photographers using Apple’s Aperture can submit both a copy of the master RAW image and the edited version(s) to the photo desk for comparison/editing.

Posted by Michael Moretti | Report as abusive

Mr. Schlesinger,In your article “The use of Photoshop” you state: No excessive lightening, darkening or blurring of the image. Before this statement I never knew that press photographers ‘blurred’ images. According to this statement some blurring is permissible. Under what circumstance has this occurred? How often does this happen?

Posted by Sean Stipp | Report as abusive

Reuters reply: “You are incorrect about some of your comments on Photoshop and what it can and cant do. Please have a look at CS2 and CS3 beta if you are interested in knowing more.”As a reputable news agency who here claims to report truth and reality, surely you must know that it is incorrect to say simply “you are incorrect” without in detail referring to why and in what? On this basis seems you already in text showed twisting and cropping of what was the news reporting. How then can you possibly maintain the rules you have for Photoshop???? On basis of the countless comments from many people in above, it appears it would be more appropriate for you to accept that your rules have been slashed and proven as incorrect and declare a “sorry, we are completely wrong”.Like Manfred Zettl and others say in above, the wrongness in your approach is the belief that any photo can capture reality and that editing should not be made in order to bring it back towards communicating of what the news is! Any photo communicates, it never display truth.F.y.i. I do have and use CS2, so kindly do not imply different. Albeit I use it limited since Silkypix as I mention above gets me professional results much quicker, faster and easier. It also saves the editing steps in a file for record keeping and for me to go back and modify and/or copy them to other RAW files. As you mentioned in above Photoshop is limited in the capability of saving editing made. It may be used as standard for news reporting, but it is also the standard in graphics world, which does not mean that it is correct program for your work in editing photos. So then why do you limit to the use of Photoshop???Further, you do mention Adobe RGB as Reuters standard color space. This seem odd since it cannot be printed directly and since its width of colors just complicates the editing process and forces you to “manipulate” colors in all photos to sRGB for printing and display on e.g. internet. You do not mention whether Photoshop LAB color can be used or not, which is more efficient in bringing out “reality” and is the only color space that can be used to modify brightness/contrast separate from colors, also to give far more superior control to edit colors and accidental color casts to “reality” compared to RGB. And that reality remains what a photographer, “lab technician”, image sensor or camera fabricator believes it to be. Although… Photoshop LAB is not the “industry standard” (seemingly like you report Photoshop is for news reporting), this does NOT equal that Photoshop or Adobe RGB are correct tools to use! So why all your rules and limitations?

Posted by Anders Loof | Report as abusive

If photographers truly have an issue with these guidelines then they’ll look elsewhere to syndicate their work.It seems to me that, like in a lot of internet domains, there are a lot of photographers here who talk a good photo. If they took a good photo I’m sure they’d be less inclined to pick apart every rule for picture submission and get on with the job.

Posted by Adam Gasson | Report as abusive

Lets look at World Press Photo 2007: x.php?option=com_photogallery&task=view& id=833&type=byname&Itemid=148&bandwidth= highSpot News: 1st prize singles. Akintunde Akinleye, Nigeria, Reuters.I think this winning image is extensively retouched to make it more dramatic.

Posted by Ahto | Report as abusive

I always tell to my pupils: once you master techniques I teach, you will never again read/look at the news the same way.


It can all be solved with repairing the chip on your shoulder.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

@ Anders:You cite Ken Rockwell and think SilkyPix is comparable to Photoshop.”I am an amateur.”Yes, you are.We all know that there are other applications that do work in lieu of PS, and may even be personally preferred. I don’t really see the relevance in asking “Why Photoshop?” when it IS widely accepted as the de facto standard.If you dont like it, you know enough to apply these same guidelines laid out by Reuters to any software you DO use.

Posted by aaron.d | Report as abusive

Thanks for the efforts. In the end it will only work if the people who work for Reuters have integrity and pride in the idea that they are reporters and not news makers. If they are trying to convey their prejudices there will be more fiascos. As another post said, we are the consumers. I have no interest in spun or staged “facts”. Those are damaged goods. Fortunately, now there are so many sources available for news and views on the internet. We can “buy” from people we trust.

Posted by Craig Harrison | Report as abusive

These rules are exactly the way photojournalist should conduct their manipulation of photographs. A photograph that has good content shouldn’t need any manipulation.


“Reuters photographers, staff and freelance, must not stage or re-enact news events…”I agree with this rule, however and sadly, I also shoot as freelancer in the field and cover event — with other wire agency photographers. I always witnessed photojournalist who does this stage, pose, choreographs or even re enact situation just to get “good, great and exclusive photos” just to achieve superiority in the event. But this does not worry me, but those in the editor’s desk who ask why have you not taken this photos since you are there.. at the end.. all my answer is.. “It did not happened, it was staged” Imagine, Im 33, a only freelance and they are older, in-house of other wire agencies, then they can afford to do that despite of their trainings and everything. I rather shoot candid or shoot long so my subject may not noticed me rather than I staged the event that in the end of the day I consider my self a liar. In my lectures to student school press photographers, I always tell them that when they shoot for news — there must be a line between documentary photography (photojournalism) or photography with no stories at all. Sometimes I told them why shoot and use Photoshop when you can use other programs so you may not be tempted of the graphical tool of the Photoshop. Im not an expert in the Photoshop, but I know so many functions and around it. But when it comes to photojournalism — Photomechanic program suites me best and everything is in it. It’s a matter of ethics, discipline and values that we learned that at the end of the day, we can say we have documented the history and told truth about it.

Posted by panilosoel | Report as abusive

Some dubts about RAW use:Using RAW (where possible) means that a photographer should send only the RAW file itself? Adobe Camera Raw, as almost all the others RAW converters, write conversion data in a separate file (XMP). A Photographer should send the RAW+XMP to better inform the photo editor about the requested global image retouches? And what RAW converter will be used to render? Has Reuters a “standard” raw converter for ALL raws flavours? If I see my image “fine” with Capture NX software, how can I be sure that a different raw converter wll not change image impact?

Posted by Massimo Novi | Report as abusive

@aaron.dAaron: “You cite Ken Rockwell and think SilkyPix is comparable to Photoshop.”Ken Rockwell is a photographic artist with much knowledge on photography. Some photographers like his writing others do not. That is outside this discussion.Silkypix is not comparable to Photoshop. That was not my intention. Silkypix is different. A smartness is that it is a software created with photography in mind. Photoshop is created with graphics and not originally with photography in mind. The smartness with a program such as Silkypix is that steps of manipulation can be decided before processing and can be applied same identic way to other images.However, my key point in this context is that refering to only Photoshop limits the photographer freedom in tools and experssion of reality when limited to monopoly of one program. Was with film the photographer limited to one film?? And perhaps it should be also to one camera and one lens??? After all… wide angles and teles distort reality compared to how we see with eyes…Anders: I am an amateur.aaron.d: “Yes, you are.”Yes, advanced. Problem? Professional normally applies when one makes money of something. That has nothing to do with abilities.I also give my full name here.

Posted by Anders Loof | Report as abusive

The rules above are a bit unrefined, then again I can understand because many people would not understand if you became too specific. Beyond that every photo is different and requires different levels of adjustment. I think people misunderstand these rules to be step by step instructions. For those familiar with photography and photo editing it is obvious that, for example, the 300 pixel, radius .3 and threshold 0 is an upper limit, not the exactly what should be applied.Addressing the differences between editing programs. Use whatever you like to use. Photoshop was created for digital creation and manipulation, not for photography. However, one can still use photoshop effectively for photos. A couple of additional point of correction for Anders: Photoshop allows multiple edits, adjustments and edits that are non-damaging. You can simply turn them on and off. Actions and furthermore Javascripting allows one to apply the same changes to multiple images. If you do not wish to use Javascript, Applescript, or Visual Basic you can still record actions and apply that action to multiple images through the “Batch” command. You can choose whichever program suits your preference many programs do exactly what photoshop does, the point is photoshop is also adequate. Arguing over color spaces is also irrelevant in the sense that properly constructed color flow will correct problems anyway. Whether you start with sRGB, Adobe RGB(97), or a generic RGB profile it still gets converted to a device independent color model and then to the printer device’s color profile, which Anders in the newspaper business is CMYK. The point of arguement about which color space is rendered mute with color management. sRGB > LAB > CYMK or Adobe RGB > LAB > device dependent RGB profile.No one with a basic understanding of color theory and management would start editing a picture in LAB. The LAB color profile encompasses the complete range of visible (to the eye) colors. Since all devices (including computer screens) can’t represent the full gamut of visible colors, LAB converts the colors to the profile of your monitor. This is leaving out the fact that if your monitor could represent all the colors you can see with your eyes you would still have problems because your output device (whether it is an RGB inkjet at your house or SWOP stand CMYK industrial presses) can’t represent the full color gamut. If anyone is still confused please google a bit about color theory and color management, I know I don’t do a great job explaining it.

Posted by geilerzeit | Report as abusive

I wish the celebrity magazines followed the same ethical practises


geilerzeit, your writing and info is well. One minor correction about LAB.You said “No one with a basic understanding of color theory and management would start editing a picture in LAB. The LAB color profile encompasses the complete range of visible (to the eye) colors.”LAB color space contains a more complete range of colors than all other color spaces. That is why nothing is lost when converting example RGB > LAB > RGB. Dan Marguilous book is very interesting on LAB, LAB hold many strengths in editing images. The L channel permits adjustment of contrast – lightness separate from colors, something that is impossible in any other color space. Interesting, althought perhaps sliding a bit off topic…

Posted by Anders Loof | Report as abusive

300 DPI is a meaningless specification without document size, as stated above. In my experience, when I ask a writer what size picture file they want, and they say “300 DPI”, I cringe with the realiziation that they are poorly trained. As in this thread, trying to explain that their statement is unclear may not result in the concept being grasped.A better specification is total pixels along the long edge. This is a simple, direct and clear specification. Camera files are typically 4000 or so. When the number of pixels is less than 1000, the utility of the image for publication becomes less.To elaborate on one of the responses above, if an image is 300 DPI, but only 1/4 inch, there are 75 pixels. IF it is 300 DPI but 20 inches, there are 6000. If you insist on the 300 DPI spec, you must couple this with a document size so the number of pixels can be calculated.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Sorry if I’m a little late to the discussion…I was out taking pictures. Imagine that!

Posted by David Graham | Report as abusive

I think that the entire point of unethical journalism is being missed here. It doesn’t matter to what extent an image is manipulated if the facts surrounding the image are completely false.


A picture says a thousand words. A modified picture no matter how little the modification will not say the same thousand words.


Sir, I’m a journalism student, doing a project on this subject now. Can I ask does Reuters has any technical analysis to check if pictures have been altered? If you have, could you give me more details? Thank you!

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Interestingly. Thanks for the information ..))