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 March 16, 2024

Ex-White House photographer weighs in on Kate Middleton controversy

Pete Souza, a former White House photographer, recently weighed in on the Kate Middleton photograph controversy, and, in doing so, he raised an important point about the infamous photo. 

Souza did so in a message that he recently posted to his Instagram account.

For those unfamiliar with Souza, he is particularly well-known for his White House photography during the Obama administration. And, whether you like Barack Obama or not, if you see Souza's photographs, you'd have to admit that he is very skilled at what he does.

This is all a rather long-winded way of saying that Souza's opinion on the Kate Middleton photograph controversy is not the opinion of a layman, and, thus, Souza's opinion ought to be given a bit more weight than a layman's. How much weight is for you, the reader, to decide.


Before we get to what Souza had to say, we'll provide a quick overview of the Middleton photograph controversy, in case you either forgot or missed it.

The photograph was posted by the Princess of Wales on Mother's Day. Included in the photograph were Middleton and her three children.

At first glance, the photograph looks like a typical family photograph. But, upon closer inspection, there are many things that are wrong with the photograph. The Daily Mail, in fact, highlights 16 different problems with the photograph.

Before this photograph was released there was much speculation about Middleton's state of health after her recent hospitalization. So, when it was discovered that the photograph was altered, the first thought of many was that the Royal Palace altered it in an attempt to cover up something about Middleton.

Middleton did eventually take responsibility for the incident. She said:

Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother's Day.

Souza's take

Souza in his post attempted to make a distinction about editing photographs that he believes is important to recognize in the Middleton situation.

"Every publication like the New York Times, and every news organization like the Associated Press, have strict policies on using Photoshop to process images. Basically, the accepted practices allow a news photograph to be tweaked by adjusting the color balance; the density (make the raw file lighter or darker); and shadows and highlights," he wrote.

Souza continued, "What’s not acceptable is to remove, add, or change elements in the photograph. That would be altering the content. ⁣For example, if there’s a telephone pole sticking out of a person’s head, you wouldn’t be allowed to remove it."

The photographer concluded, "So, for the sake of consistency, let’s call fake photos what they are: 'fake' or 'altered' and stop using the word 'Photoshopped.'"

In Souza's view, therefore, it appears that the Middleton photograph ought to be recognized as a "fake." If true, then the big question is" Why was the photograph "faked?"

Written By:
Robert Ayers

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