The original (L) and photoshopped pictures of Doan Cong Tinh
A photojournalist has apologized for "mistakenly" sending a photoshopped picture of Vietnamese soldiers during the war to an international exhibition, saying it was a "big lesson" for him.
Last year, the International Photojournalism Festival of Perpignan (Visa pour l'image Perpignan) from France displayed the works of four North Vietnamese photographers that covered the Vietnam War.
One of the photographs that created a major impact was taken in 1970 by Doan Cong Tinh, showing North Vietnamese soldiers climbing a rope against the backdrop of a waterfall.
The image was widely reproduced in coverage of the festival. It was also provided to the New York Times’ Lens Blog by the curator of the exhibit, Patrick Chauvel.
Last April, Chauvel put together 40 pictures of the North Vietnam’s photographers, including the same photo, in an exhibition at the French culture center L’Espace in Hanoi.
But the Danish photographer Jorn Stjerneklar then wrote a piece on his blog about his visit to Tinh’s house in late April. Stjerneklar said that Tinh, now 72, showed him his photo book which had a completely different version of the photo.
When he asked Tinh why there were differences between the two versions, Tinh said that the negative was damaged so he decided to use a print and “fix” it.
In the fixed photo, a new waterfall was added and a figure was removed.
After Stjerneklar exposed the case, the New York Times’ Lens Blog removed the picture from their site.
Controversies then began, with many questions being raised about the authenticity of photojournalism.
Stjerneklar wrote on his blog he would not really blame Tinh as Tinh "was working in propaganda” during that time.
But he wondered why the picture was selected by Chavel and Visa pour l'image.
International photographers have demanded an explanation from Visa pour l'image.
Tinh told news website VnExpress he took the photo at the Truong Son (Annamite) Range, where the waterfall was too bright.
After the negative was damaged, he brought the picture to a photo store and they helped him photoshop it.
Tinh said he was aware that the picture was photoshopped so he did not send it to any exhibition inside and outside Vietnam.
But in 2014, he "mistakenly" gave a CD with hundreds of photos, including the photoshopped one, to Chauvel.
Chauvel then picked the photoshopped picture and put it in the exhibition.
Tinh told local media he was sorry for the mistake and said it was a lesson for him.