Photographer Cut by Getty for Altered Golf Photo Offers Explanation

Golfer-before The freelance photographer we told you about yesterday who was dropped by Getty after one of his images of a golf tournament was found to have been digitally altered has offered an explanation of what happened.

Marc Feldman, whose freelance status with Getty was terminated over the altered photo, told the Dallas Morning News he made "a fatal mistake."

"There was absolutely no intent to pass this off as a real image," Feldman explained to Dallas Morning News photo editor Guy Reynolds for the paper's Photography Blog. "Only a moron would have sent both."

A photo Feldman captured of golfer Matt Bettencort was distributed by
Getty Images even though a caddie had been digitally removed from the
background. Getty, which has a strict policy against altering its news
images, later put out a "mandatory kill" notice on the photo after Reynolds alerted them to it, and dropped
Feldman from its roster.

Feldman, 61, told Reynolds that he was in the press tent processing the images when Bettencort and his caddie stopped by to look at the photos. The caddie then suggested the photo would look better without him in it.

Matt Bettencourt 2 copy-thumb-300x190-86601 "So I showed them how easy I could do that," Feldman told Reynolds. "I thought I just saved it to the desktop not to the send folder. I certainly did not mean to send both of them to Getty."

What do you think about Feldman's explanation? Does it sound like a plausible, honest mistake? Have you ever done anything similar? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

25 Responses to “Photographer Cut by Getty for Altered Golf Photo Offers Explanation”

  1. Troy Freund Says:

    Explanation sounds weak, but plausible. Why would anyone have sent in both files, if not by mistake? Would it have made any difference if the photo had been labeled “photo-illustration”, indicating it had been manipulated?

  2. Dave Says:

    Sounds to me like a moron did send both.

  3. amla Says:

    some older folks i’ve encountered are not as computer saavy due to a late fluency with certain technology.he could’ve easily sent both files by accident. and it’s not an epic photo by any stretch to get fired over.

  4. Larry Grayam Says:

    A true pro knows not to play around with a photo. Mistakes happen, if you let them. Never make a not for publication version. The correct response to the caddy would have been “That’s dishonest, I never do that.” Publishing has a history of practical jokes and wrong photos being published. The cure NEVER let these things enter your system.

  5. John McD. Says:

    Shouldn’t have happened, but certainly a plausible explanation. Getty was obliged to pull the image and notify its clients, but they way they’ve dealt with the photographer seems overly harsh and frankly smacks of grandstanding by Getty. Getty’s concept of business ethics is, at the very least, “fluid”. And no matter how much they say that there is no conflict of interest, no matter how hard they may try to avoid it, when they act as a wire service and a commercial photography business serving the interests of the organizations and people that they cover journalistically, ethical conflict is inevitable.

  6. DavidH Says:

    Even if it was a mistake, it was a mistake that could have seriously damaged the credibility of a news org. The guy gets whacked to remind others about how careful have have to be.
    That said, this is *GETTY* we are talking about. As opposed to, you know, a straight news org.
    Shame he got whacked for removing a caddy from the coverage. If he had removed an entire series of photos of a bench-clearing brawl at an NBA game from his CF card, he’d be just fine…

  7. Ted Forbes Says:

    The only thing more moronic than sending two images is the free PR this guy gets out of the whole thing.

  8. JeffH Says:

    Seems like a plausible explanation. I think Getty’s response was rather harsh.

  9. JMS Says:

    What if that caddy later became a news focus? You never know in the world of news! Plus other photographers would follow suit and start altering. I have seen it before.

  10. Patrick Says:

    Sad to hear this happened, I just hope students and professionals everywhere will at least learn from this situation.

  11. Guy Reynolds Says:

    When I got to work yesterday and found a voice mail from Mr. Feldman I was expecting the “blame the messenger” syndrome but found just the opposite. He called later and we spoke about what happened, he offered his explanation, and as jaded and skeptical as I may be having been at this for nearly 30 years, I felt then and still do that he told me the truth. You can accept that or not. What’s done is done and won’t be changed. He had absolutely nothing to gain by doctoring that photo for publication. And he correctly points out that anyone attempting such deceit would be rather foolish to send the original AND the altered image to the agency. That’s the only reason it was spotted. Had only the altered version moved who would’ve been looking at the background for evidence of cloning? Not me. I still had the 700 images from The Open to get through.
    I’ve heard explanations/excuses from others also caught stepping (or jumping) over the line (Deitrich; Walski; Hajj) and while I don’t recall them verbatim it was pretty clear that none of those were just stupid mistakes. And there’s a difference. All of them rightfully lost their jobs and now Feldman has too.
    Getty did what it needed to do and Feldman also respects that.
    Trust me Ted, Mr. Feldman was not then and is not now seeking PR. Don’t you think he just wishes it had never happened? Helluva way to get one’s 15 minutes.

  12. Robert Goddyn Says:

    I don’t know but how it is possible to dismissed a freelance photographer this is only possible when he is a employee and not as a freelancer ??

  13. marc feldman Says:

    As the photographer who created this mess I apoligize for any harm I have done to Getty and the photography industry at large.. I get paid a flat day rate and do not profit from the number of images that are moved. Sometimes the truth is just that. No conspiricies, no decieit just a stupid mistake . Maybe its the 12 to 14 hour days we put in shooting in 100 degree weather then editing,wiring and trying to get enough sleep to do it again for three more days. Maybe it just pilot error. In over 36 years as a professional photographer my reputation is one of honesty and integrity\. I have always done my best to be as careful as humanly possible not just with Getty but with all my clients. What more can one say. I made a mistake. It wasnt intentional it was simply, tragically an error that will cost me Its not about the money or the position, It about my reputation and sense of self. I would like to thank those who have been understanding and supportive and invite the rest to continue do dream up whatever conspiracy theories you choose. In the end, the truth will still be the truth. Thank you for allowing me to post my thought on this site Best Regards Marc Feldman

  14. Dan Says:

    The photog’s explanation seems plausible to me. When you’re in a hurry, it is easy to save a photo to the wrong location–I have certainly done it plenty of times. Also, the quality of the cloning is consistent with it being just a quick demo to show the caddie what could be done. Re: Ted’s comment: I’m sure the photo could have done without the “free PR” hi is getting from this. Re: Larry’s comment: “A true pro knows not to play around with a photo…” I don’t agree at all. There’s plenty to be learned from “playing around” with a photo. That’s how we learn our craft. The mistake was sending it to Getty and yes, I do believe him when he says it was a mistake–we are all human.

  15. Darin Basile Says:

    I’m with the Photographer. It’s so easy with the “content aware fill” feature in Adobe CS5 to just remove items from images. I can totally believe the quickie demo “Gee whiz check this out…” and the mistake in where the altered image was saved, as PS would probably have defaulted to the last folder used.

  16. Hans Says:

    I also shoot sports for a number of wire service outlets. Competition is keen deadlines are very tight and it may be a long hot day. You should be happy to be working and not complaining. Most photographers are working on writing the best captions and moving as many key images as they can from the event. Why would anybody working for a wire service client even bother playing around in photoshop and altering images outside the guidelines. JUST DONT DO IT.

  17. Brian Lehnahrdt Says:

    This photographer made two fatal mistakes: 1: when he SAVED the altered photo. If he was just showing the caddy that he could do it, he didn’t have to save the image. 2: he failed by not double checking his work folder prior to transmitting to Getty. So accident or not, his lack of attention to detail cost him his job. As a basic photograhic instructor for the military, this case will be presented to my students as a lesson for them about the dangers of altering and bad file management.

  18. David Cothran Says:

    The thing I would like to know is why the photo is cropped down to perfect rule of thirds composition if it was only created to show the caddy how to remove a head. I think the explanation is plausible, but i would like to know if both copies sent to getty were cropped and if the alteration took place post crop or before. I am also concerned about why the photographer would choose to save the photo to his desktop rather than just chose “no” when asked to save. You have to admit, that photo would have looked crappy cropped that way with the second head on the shoulder.

  19. susana Says:

    I believe him. He made a mistake. It’s easy to grab a bunch of files and ftp them and accidentally grab something off your desktop. He shouldn’t have saved the photo. But if he transmitted both of them, seems like the editor who was processing incoming might have discerned the mistake as well. Perhaps Adobe might think about coming out with a photojournalists version of ps without content aware fill. Or news organizations could demand that everyone go back to PS2.

  20. Nick Says:

    Poor guy; this is SO trivial when compared with what BP have done

  21. photgrapherEU Says:

    I might believe the explanation. But on a deadline why to demo someone what you do NOT usually do with your photos? If you are in a hurry not to doubble check what you submit, why spend valuable time with demo? If you know you made something sensible not to publish, why not doubble check after editors published it and call it off after it proves the wrong file?
    Yes this is serious mistake from a serious professional. I feel sorry for him having to loose a job on such mistake(s).

  22. Sarah Reed Says:

    Someone needs to fire BP for altering their photo.

  23. photoeditor14years Says:

    with so many sleazy photographers out there, it’s hard to tell when on is telling the truth. too often have i encountered a badly shopped image only to hear the ‘oops, didn’t mean to send that’ speech.

  24. George Myers Says:

    This question is for the pro news photographers out there. Would it have been acceptable to blur or desaturate the caddie and remove the attention or is any manipulation whatsoever forbidden?

  25. jjon Says:

    Stupid mistake – but sh*t happens and the photog will suffer the consequences. But – why was a news photographer showing his images from a news event to his subject(s)? What if the golfer said he didn’t like such & such a picture – would the photog have agreed due to celeb pressure? I never let people look at my pix while covering a news event. If they want to see the pics – by the paper, magazine or sign into Getty etc/