More on FAQ #522

522. How will photographers feel about the public assuming that their best photos are “Doctored unless labeled otherwise”?

Interestingly, those who know best how to doctor photos without detection — advanced photographers — often encourage the public to assume that non-news photos are “Doctored unless labeled otherwise.”

When there is a “Photoshop controversy” outside of news settings, experienced photographers often will say things like,

“The public should know better than to assume that any non-news photograph is undoctored,”


“If it’s not a news or photojournalistic photograph, then anything goes.”

Similarly, when “non-news” photographers are the subject of a Photoshop controversy, they usually point out that they see themselves not as “journalists” but as “artists” — and thus they can do whatever they want with their own photographs.

Those photographers get no objections from TCQ proponents. Outside of news and information settings anything does go, and photographers can do whatever they want with their own photographs.

Rather than aiming to limit photographers’ artistic freedom, it is more realistic to work with viewers’ changing assumptions about the photographs they encounter.

That’s what TCQ does, offering the “Guaranteed TCQ” label to note exceptions to the growing public assumption that outside of news settings, impressive-looking photographs are “Doctored unless labeled otherwise.”

Who wins, who loses?

Of course, not every photographer is thrilled when his or her most-impressive photos are assumed by viewers to be doctored!

But again, the “Guaranteed TCQ” label makes it a simple matter for any photographer to tell viewers when a photograph is undoctored.

Now that the free ride is over (see #4 on this page) the only people disadvantaged by the public’s “Doctored unless labeled otherwise” assumption are those who formerly benefited from having viewers think that doctored photographs were in fact undoctored.

But for reasons noted in “C” of #2005, most viewers aren’t nostalgic for those days (see #3 on this page).