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Photographer’s Guidelines

All photos must have captions that accurately provide information about the photo for our viewers. The same guidelines outlined for writers are expected to be followed for captions as well.

When editing, remember that transparency and truth is expected. When manipulation is needed for the image, it will only be used to make the image appear more like what was originally seen when the picture was taken (such things as correcting white balance, exposure, and full frame color tinting, as well as cropping and controlling contrast are acceptable upon approval from the Creative Director and the rest of the team).

Immersion Travel’s Pledge of Truth in Media

In our publication, you can believe what you see. Our photos depict the reality that our photographers witnessed and experienced. If we pose or “set up” a photo, it will be due to an instructional or illustrative purpose, as when a person is posing for a portrait or objects are arranged to illustrate an article on travel gear, food preparation and the like. Captions will clear up any ambiguity pertaining to posed photographs. Otherwise, if it looks like a photo of an event or a moment that our photographer captured, then that’s exactly what it is.

Once a photo has been taken, it is processed in accordance with long-established photojournalistic rules that guarantee that what you see is what the photographer saw through the viewfinder. We do allow traditional techniques such as cropping (trimming around the edges), correcting color, improving contrast, and the like as long as it doesn’t mislead the viewer in any way. Excluding minor touch-ups of temporary imperfections that are distracting, such as noticeable blemishes or bruises from volley ball games, we do not add, delete, reposition or rearrange people or objects within the frames of our photos.

If we make exceptions to the policy detailed above, we will tell you what we did and why. Legitimate examples might include a photo of a wildlife preserve altered to illustrate how it would look if every visitor planted a tree in the next ten years or an aerial photo shaded to reveal how many communities are positively affected by a nearby ecolodge. Disclosure of any such alteration will be explicitly explained in the caption so it will not be missed. With digital technology, entirely fictional or partially fictional illustrations can be made to look like photographs. We will avoid this technique unless we are sure readers will immediately recognize the images as obviously implausible or a prominent, unambiguous label accompanies the images such as photo illustration or digitally altered photo montage.

We intend for this policy to assist us in our efforts to use new technologies to do a better job to inform, educate and enlighten our audience. This is our pledge of integrity in visual journalism. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

Immersion Travel’s Policy on Photo Alterations

All photo submissions must include the original raw images as well as full disclosure as to the techniques used to take the image (colored filters, staging of scenes, extended exposure time, etc.). Photos that don’t portray the reality of the scene as closely as possible will be thrown out.

Acceptable digital and darkroom manipulations include: color correction, cropping (as long as it doesn’t mislead the audience), dodging and burning, improving contrast, and touching-up temporary imperfections such as noticeable blemishes, embarrassing bodily secretions, bruises from playing volleyball, or other similar instances. These touch-ups are minor and only used to eliminate distraction, as the audience should be focusing on the content. For instance, touching up a noticeable zit on a teenager’s nose is acceptable but smoothing out the rest of the acne on his or her face is not.

While all photos will be edited according to the guidelines above, each one will be treated with individual and critical attention when decisions on alterations need to be made. Photo Illustrations

The only time a photo illustration will be published is if it is obviously implausible to the general audience, instructive, and accompanied with an explicit description in the caption of what it is and why it was created. Even when an illustration is obviously implausible, it will have a disclosure. Immersion Travel’s definition of photo illustration will be included in the masthead if a photo illustration is used in the issue. Our photo illustrations are defined as: images designed to represent specific instructional paradigms and are not authentic depictions of real scenes.

What to consider when editing:
  • Was the photo spontaneous or planned?
  • Did the photographer shoot what they saw upon arriving on the location, or did they pose, place, or rearrange elements?
  • How significant are aspects of the scene or event that were ignored or overlooked by the photographer?
  • If it’s a photo of people, did they know they were being photographed? Did they sign a model release form according to legal regulations?
  • What was the subject’s relationship with the photographer?
  • Did the subjects alter their behavior because of the camera? To what extent?
  • Are they looking at the camera?
  • Might the photographer’s gender, race, or social standing have affected the taking of the photo: conscious or subconscious tastes, philosophies, or agendas?
  • What was the effect of commercial considerations?