Narciso Contreras responds to AP firing, calls public dismissal “an exhibit of power”


posted Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 1:57 PM EDT

(AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)

After the AP's very public, and contentious, cutting of ties with photographer Narciso Contreras, the photographer has now taken the opportunity to discuss his side of the events. And while he agrees with the punishment that the AP meted out, he disagrees with the way it was handled.

Talking to PDN Pulse over email, Contreras discussed not just the ruling, but also the circumstances that lead to him editing the image, and the fact that it was him that alerted his own editors to it. We thoroughly recommend you read the whole interview, it's quite short, and there are some interesting tidbits inside it.

But what's especially interesting is that Contreras doesn't seem to object to the fact that the AP had to let him go—he admits that he broke the rules, and should have to face the consequences. But what he does object to is the fact that he was offered no chance to defend himself, that the ruling took place entirely behind closed doors, and that the AP was so public in the split. Over the course of the interview, he's quoted as saying:

"I would have preferred to discuss with the editors the whole situation personally, before they took their decision, but I have not had the chance to talk to anyone. They went behind locked doors and made their decision. This is a very critical situation, and accordingly it has to be analyzed and talked through with whom committed the fault. We are not disposable. They have to analyze every single case according to its unique nature."

"Zero tolerance is justified when it comes to altering news images. We must all play by the rules. But I’m critical when it comes to how the Industry handles the situation with individual photographers, especially when you are a freelance[r]. [For] editors it is not always easy to handle mistakes, but as a photographer you should have the right to be included in the process. Every single case is unique and that has to be taken in to consideration as well."
"I do accept to break up the working relationship between them and me if I broke the rules, but the public punishment seems more like an exhibit of power in order to protect its own interests."

The majority of our readers supported the APs decision to cut ties with Contreras due to its own zero tolerance policy on adding or removing anything from the frame. But the question now is did they do it too publicly, and did they cut Contreras entirely out of the process?