Reuters prohibits freelancers from shooting in RAW format

By Shawn Knight
Nov 20, 2015
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  1. Reuters has implemented a new policy in which it’ll no longer accept photos from freelance photographers that were originally shot in RAW (or CR2) formats.

    In a brief e-mail from a Reuters Photos editor, the news agency said photographers are free to shoot RAW images but they also need to take a JPEG at the same time and to only send over the latter format with minimal processing (cropping, correcting levels, etc.).

    A spokesperson for Reuters confirmed the policy change with PetaPixel.

    Reuters said the change was made to increase ethics and speed. As eyewitness accounts of events and in line with its Photographer’s Handbook and the Thomas Reuters Trust Principles, the publication implores that its images reflect reality. Or in other words, it doesn’t want freelancers manipulating photos in post-processing in a manner that exaggerates or otherwise falsely portrays actual events.

    By shooting in the compressed JPEG format, photographers will be able to skip time-consuming processing so the publication can get pictures to their clients faster.

    Shooting RAW, sometimes referred to as digital negatives, is preferred by the overwhelming majority of professional photographers. The unprocessed format includes all of the data recorded when an image is captured, thus allowing for greater flexibility for correction and general manipulation when post-processing in a program like Lightroom or Photoshop.

    The problem, as Reuters’ new policy highlights, is that some photojournalists go a bit overboard to the point that the truth is stretched.

    Image courtesy Alistair Grant, Associated Press

    Permalink to story.

  2. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,340   +1,938

    Sounds reasonable to me.
  3. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    In my opinion they are free to accept (or deny) which ever format they want to deal with.
  4. SirGCal

    SirGCal TS Maniac Posts: 365   +136

    I suspect some of the better photo-guys are going to just send their images to other news sources. Too much of their equipment is setup for RAW already. The better guys don't have to photochop their images to heck and back anyhow.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,512   +675

    What makes them so sure that other formats are less susceptible to editing? With the fast number of high end professional camera's using RAW, they will have just cut themselves out of a lot of work, especially that which is directly uploaded from the field. Guess they no longer need to scoop the competition?
  6. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,322   +263

    Of course Reuters is free to accept whatever format they wish to, and perhaps will increase the speed of photographer and editor workflows (a number of wire services already do this actually), but I would hardly say it will increase adherence to ethical standards. If ethical standards are that important*, they should be vetting their photographers (both on staff and freelance) on stringent metrics and repeatedly.

    *Being able to provide the assurance of adhering to an ethical code is sometimes the only thing separating a freelance photographer/photojournalist from some random person on the street with their smartphone, it is a sad state of affairs.
  7. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,111   +1,377

    Looking at that kill-squad, make me hate paparazzi even more.
  8. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 819   +246

    Kind of reminds me of the old 70s political satire, Yes Minister (and Yes Prime Minister)... When the PM is asked if he wants to do something or APPEAR to do something - his answer is "Well, appear to do obviously - we can't actually DO anything."

    There is nothing preventing an "unethical" photographer from taking the shot in RAW mode, making his "changes", then simply saving as JPEG and uploading to Reuters.... This is simply Reuters saying, "See, we're DOING something!!". They're not, of course... they're just APPEARING to do something :)
  9. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    I thought that too and then read the following quote. Which then made me question, whether Reuters could detect images originally shot in RAW (or CR2) formats.
    Why would they say something like that, if it could be proven they don't posses the means?
  10. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 819   +246

    I highly doubt they can tell.... But by saying it's so, they can appear to be doing something :)
  11. Emexrulsier

    Emexrulsier TS Guru Posts: 503   +42

    Impossible to detect that it was originally a raw image, and you could use tools to take screen captures of raw data that eliminates all digital signatures of it being a raw to jpeg image anyways. Even crappy tools like snipping tool is capable of this.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,462   +1,760

    Not necessarily. I own Nikon equipment, all DSLR's. All my bodies offer the option of producing a RAW & JPEG image with the same exposure. Changing the capture format, is a very simple and quick trip through the camera's shooting menu.

    What can happen is this; since data is compressed with the JPEG format, the file size is much smaller.. Shooting the two types of images together, won't slow down the motor drive speed of the camera.

    But, it will load the camera's buffer with a lot more data a lot sooner. Write speed to the cards becomes a big issue. Consequently, shooting with JPEG, you might get off a hundred shots before the camera decides to, "stop and catch its breath" so to speak. Shooting RAW, or RAW + JPEG, might get you only 20 shots.

    Keep in mind these issues aren't as severe as the once were, due to expanded capacity flash cards, higher write speeds, and faster onboardimage processors. That said, you might be better off shooting JPEG only at a sporting event, so the camera is less likely to lockup at an inopportune moment.

    OTOH, also keep in mind that the amount of data captured per shot with today's high megapixel cameras, serves to offset some of the gains in card capacity and write speeds.

    Today's 22 megapixel capture has an approximate dimension of 5600 x 3800 pixels.

    The common 6 megapixel sensor of maybe10 years ago, would be 3000 x 2000. (IE the Nikon D-70 circa 2004).
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,462   +1,760

    Well, most of the type of photography we're discussing, like that of a talking head on an ego trip giving a press conference, has a useful lifespan of one day anyway. The most famous news photos of all time, 8mm film footage of the Kennedy assassination, wasn't shot by a pro. The image quality pretty much sucks.

    Editing jpeg photos only becomes a problem from multiple editing sessions.anyway. When a JPEG file is opened and the data changed, it is re-compressed upon closure. Too much of this, and too much data can be lost.

    And FWIW, anything these guys shoot is going to have cropping "bleed",. and will be sized by the editor of whatever publication uses it. It ain't like this stuff is coming out of the camera and going right on the page as is, en toto.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015
  14. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,462   +1,760

    Every photo coming out of a DSLR is tagged with a ton of information called "EXIF". You have the option to strip it with programs such as Photoshop. But, if we're going to give a capture card, JPEG or RAW to an editor, the EXIF data will be present..

    Time is of an essence with true news protography, and in the case of a freelancer, he or she is competing with many others for the single paycheck. IMHO, it doesn't seem to make much sense to be dorking around in the (digital) darkroom, when you could be uploading it and getting paid. So, whatever you're going to do to the image, KISS as they say.

    Images right out of the camera, assuming the camera is set for "normal" quality, tend to look like crap anyway.. There's very few where you wouldn't want the sky bluer, the color on the jerseys more saturated, or someone's cheeks a bit rosier. You get the idea.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015
    cliffordcooley likes this.

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