By: Joe Strupp
Just one month ago photographer Allan Detrich resigned from The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, after editors discovered he had altered nearly 80 images. But now Detrich has contracted with a New York photo agency to distribute hundreds of photos he took of last week’s devastating tornados in Kansas.
“I personally do believe in giving a person a second chance,” said J.P. Pappis, president of the Polaris Agency, a five-year-old photo news agency that is working with Detrich. “He has sent us his files and they are terrific.” Pappis said. Due to Detrich’s past problems, Pappis is requiring the raw files of some 700 images to be supplied so that he can be sure they are not altered. “This is a first encounter, there is a little bit of controversy in the background,” Pappis admitted. “We said we had to see the raw files and he has cooperated.”
If the agency is successful in selling any of Detrich’s images, Pappis said future business dealings could take place. “If we are successful, we might give him a second chance,” Pappis said. “He made a mistake, he was caught, so do we put him in the electric chair?”
Detrich, a former longtime Blade employee who was a 1998 Pulitzer finalist, quit on April 7 after admitting he changed a photo of a college baseball team, but claimed it had been mistakenly submitted for publication. That photo ran March 31.
When it was discovered that Detrich had altered the image, a Blade review of his work found he had submitted 79 altered images since January, with 58 appearing either in the paper or online.
“I am never going to do that again,” Detrich said this week about the Blade images. “I have gotten over that and I am working on a new career.” An avowed “storm chaser” for 10 years, Detrich said he traveled to Kansas when the tornado-type weather was forming on Friday, arriving in Greensburg, Kan. just as the devastating tornado struck the small town. During the follow-up coverage, he was interviewed by several news outlets, and provided images of his tornado photos to CNN and Fox News for their Web sites.
Pappis said he was watching CNN on Saturday, was impressed by Detrich’s work, and tracked him down. “He sent [the images] to us and they will have interest to magazines and newspapers, we will send them out and hope they get picked,” Pappis said. “We don’t know yet what the demand will be, it is early.”
Pappis said he became aware of the Blade-related problems, but wanted to give Detrich a chance given the quality of the work. Polaris Assignment Editor Ryan Schick said the agency does not often request raw files of images, but sought to request them this time given Detrich’s past. “Mr. Detrich was more than wiling to give us the opportunity to view everything raw,” Schick said.
Detrich said he was continuing his photo career and had learned his lesson about altering anything. “I am being as honest and forthright as I can,” he said. “I have no reason to screw up my life again.”