Tuesday 12 March 2024

Overzealous furore over Princess of Wales's botched photo-edited picture

The picture by the Prince of Wales for Mother's Day which was photo-edited by his wife the Princess of Wales has hit the headlines in the wrong way. Firstly, there was a lot of hypocritical - as far as I am concerned - criticism of the photograph by picture agencies. They pulled the picture once they understood that it had been photo edited.

Within 12 hours of being notified of the botched photo editing (which they should have spotted in the first place) they issued a kill notice advising editors and librarians to delete the image because it had been "manipulated".

Yes, it has been manipulated in a bad and amateurish way by the Princess of Wales who was just experimenting (but shouldn't have been) but the basic substance of the image, the content, has not been changed in any fundamental way at all. It is still a charming photograph of her family. It's a good picture.

Note: I cannot publish the photograph here because it is copyright protected. The copyright is owned by the Princess of Wales and I guess her husband because he took the photograph. I'm afraid you will have to refer to the picture from a different source if you're reading this article.

Catherine, the Princess of Wales. See credit at base of page.

Photo-editing is the norm nowadays

All she was doing was tidying up bits and pieces and trying to to make the picture look 'cleaner' and more organised. This happens all the time. These photo agencies receive pictures from hundreds of thousands of photographers who have assiduously and with great expertise photo edited their images to make them look cleaner and aesthetically beautiful.

It's all part and parcel of modern day photography. You always clean up the images by removing little defects in the background like a bird in the sky or a electrical socket on a wall; that kind of thing. Kate, the Princess of Wales, went too far and she wasn't skilled enough to do it for a picture that was destined to be published worldwide.

Mistake - apology

She should have experimented more at home and become more proficient before she issued a photograph for worldwide publication.

That's a mistake and she apologised today. In a statement she said "Like many other amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother's Day. C".


Some big news agencies pulled the photograph. Some claim that it did not meet their photo standards. Fair enough. But the public doesn't mind. It is still a good photograph.

Reissue the original photograph

Why couldn't the news agencies have asked the Princess for the original, unedited version of the photograph and used that instead? If the news agencies had been more assiduous they would have spotted the problem initially, telephoned the Princess's staff and asked for the original instead.

Or perhaps they could have patched up the photo editing themselves. It is entirely possible to re-photo edit a botched photo edited photograph to make it more acceptable. There were ways around this but I would argue that the photo agencies are complicit in some way in this mistake.

Overzealous criticism - crazy response

And in The Times today we have a massive overreaction by overzealous journalists to this image from across the world. With some newspapers saying that they can't trust the Royal family any more which I think is absurd.

For example, American newspapers suggested that the episode may have inflicted lasting reputational damage. Ridiculous. This is simply an example of poorly done photo editing by an amateur photographer. That is all it comes down to. No attempt to manipulate the public or fundamentally change the image.

It appears that many newspapers have reported on this botched photo edited image but always it seems to me in an overly zealous manner. For example, in Italy, the newspaper La Repubblica said: "This is one of the biggest and most embarrassing controversies in the recent history of the Royal family." Ridiculous again.

Six areas of photo-editing

Apparently there are six poorly completed photo edited sections in the photograph which The Times have highlighted. But that newspaper's analysis is that these basic errors "should have been spotted by the Palace". I agree that. The picture should have been more accurately assessed by somebody at the Palace but once again I would lay the blame partly at the photo agencies for not assessing the picture themselves accurately.

They have the staff and the expertise to assess the images that they receive. Why weren't they more careful? A lot of the blame needs to fall upon them in my opinion.

And the Princess should not be so heavily criticised like this. I am not a royalist. I don't actually like the Royal family. But I also don't like unfair behaviour and criticism in this case of an amateur photographer who tried her hand at minor photo editing at the wrong time and in the wrong way. That's all.

Image credit: By Ian Jones - Buckingham Palace reception, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=131607684


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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