Today, I noticed something peculiar on the Huffington Post. I recognized that the distinct mole on the left side of President Obama’s nose appeared to be on his right in the Post’s main photo.
Here’s a screen shot from the Post:
Here’s a photo from the same event we pulled from the Associated Press:
As you can see, the Post’s photo appears to be flipped.
So what’s the big deal? In the world of photojournalism, flipping photos is a cardinal sin. The AP Code of Ethics states that in a photograph the “faces or identities of individuals must not be obscured by PhotoShop or any other editing tool.” A detailed list of ethical minor adjustments is in the code, and flipping the image is not included.
Flipping a photo changes the reality a photo is meant to capture. What does it say when you move a subject from the right to the left side of the frame, especially when considering the terms used to define our politics? Most likely the decision was purely aesthetic, but that doesn’t make it OK.