Over the years, I’ve become comfortable manipulating all kinds of images in Photoshop. In fact, I few a couple of years I worked at a high-end large-format photo studio that charged an arm and a leg for photo editing. Like many of you, I can swap people’s heads around, remove objects, combine photos, move objects closer/further, clone in parts of the picture that are missing, and even match lighting and texture. But a photo editing story that was recently shared with me included some Photoshop work that I’ve never done before. Not that I couldn’t do the work--I wouldn’t.
In a promotional email about their football game with South Carolina, LSU officials included a photo of high-energy fans at one of their football games. The students, painted faces, headbands and all, looked charged up enough to step out on to the football field themselves. It sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? However, someone or some people responsible for handling the digital image, decided that the photo needed some editing because it contained references that would “offend other students.” No, one of the students in the photo wasn’t giving the camera “the bird,” another one wasn’t inappropriately grabbing a female fan, and there certainly wasn’t a trace of a derogatory gesture towards another race, creed, color, or religion. So what in the photo would have “offended other students”? The students were Christians, and they had crosses (about 4”H x 2”W) on their yellow and purple painted chests.
I’ll steer clear of acting as the moral police in this post--perhaps it’s not my place to pass judgement, but I can’t help but wonder about three things:
- If LSU was so concerned with offending students, were they concerned about offending the ones that were in the photo?
- Did the designer(s) who Photoshopped the crosses out think that the students wouldn’t see it? Were they hoping they wouldn’t see it, or did they just have their head up their butt?
- Would the symbols have been removed if they represented another religion?
As designers, this brings up an interesting moral quandary: would you have Photoshopped out the crosses? Would you have taken out another religious symbol? Or would you have made your decision based on what religious symbol it was, and how you felt about the members of that religion?
Herb Vincent, a school spokesperson responded, “Only one of the students, who didn’t appreciate it, actually contacted us about it. So next time, we’ll choose a different photo.” The school plans to steer clear of photos with religious undertones. Good call, Herb and LSU, it's well after the fact, but a good call.
To their credit, the students in the photo aren’t angry with LSU, and they don’t want to cause any harm. “We love Christ; we love LSU. No, we don’t want anything.” What an odd response, considering the "sue happy" society we live in. The students' non-retaliatory attitude towards those that didn't exactly play them right is refreshing, mature, and a heck of a class act. Keep on cheering, guys.
Think about it:
- Would you have a problem removing a religious symbol in a photograph you were going to share with the public?
- Would it matter what religious symbol it was?
- If a superior told you that you had to remove a religious symbol, would you do it?
Share your thoughts...I'd like to hear what you guys think.
By the way, if you want to check out the original article, you'll find it here: http://tinyurl.com/9pvrsfe