Contrary to popular belief a photographer has very little editorial control over how their work is published or even which images are used. An infamous image we are asked to consider is a photograph taken by Pablo Torres Guerro, of the heinous destruction caused by the Madrid bombings in March 2004. The original image was fairly graphic, showing damage done to property and bodies in the aftermath, including a bloody severed limb in the foreground. One paper printed the image as it was, but on the back page – El Pais, whereas The Guardian chose to desaturate the image to make it less graphic and indistinguishable, whilst The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Sun and the Daily Mail appear to have airbrushed the limb completely.
Read Clare Cozen’s Guardian article about Guerrero’s photograph and also read the core resource Should You Print it? pdf.
Editors ‘clean up’ bomb photo – The Guardian – Friday 12th March 2004
The newspaper article asks us to consider the different ways in which the press treated a photograph of the Madrid bombings, some examples are given above whilst other papers, including the Independent and the Daily Mirror, printed the image in black and white.