Steve McCurry Responded to Accusations of Photoshopping

An iconic American photographer who was accused of manipulating his images told TIME what he thought of the accusations.

Steve McCurry says he is not a photojournalist in the classic sense of the word, but prefers to be called a ‘visual storyteller’, citing many of his works that were either part of an advertising project, or became fine art and were included in museum collections.

“I’ve always let my pictures do the talking, but now I understand that people want me to describe the category into which I would put myself, and so I would say that today I am a visual storyteller, — McCurry says. — The years of covering conflict zones are in the distant past. Except for a brief time at a local newspaper, I have never been an employee of a newspaper, news magazine, or other news outlet.”

Answering the accusations of using Photoshop and hence distorting reality, McCurry talks about one of his works that was featured on the cover of National Geographic in 1984: “I recall when my horizontal picture of the tailor in India’s monsoon was published on a National Geographic magazine cover, the water was extended down to fit the vertical format. Some would say that was wrong, but I thought it was appropriate because the truth and integrity of the picture were maintained.”

Summing up the story with a scandal, the photographer added: “Even though I felt that I could do what I wanted to my own pictures in an aesthetic and compositional sense, I now understand how confusing it must be for people who think I’m still a photojournalist.”

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