Erica Denhoff, a credentialed member of the press who shot photos of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas at the Ivy Leage championships, says she was “surprised and disappointed” when she saw the images altered by NBC to make Thomas appear more feminine.
When Denhoff first saw her images used in a video montage on the “Today” show, she thought “something was honestly wrong with the video,” she told the Washington Examiner, adding that she was “disappointed” by the show’s actions.
“I pride myself on providing authentic images as a photojournalist,” she told the Examiner.
After watching the video several times, Denhoff came to the conclusion that NBC’s alteration of her photos was “intentional.” “It’s really important as photojournalists that we transmit authentic photos that have not been altered,” she said.
“When I first noticed the airbrushing on the segment referenced, I thought something was honestly wrong with the video,” she told the Examiner. “But then, I watched it again and thought, ‘Wait a minute, this appears to be intentional. Lia’s features are softened.’
“I then went to my original photo, on the sites that they could access to license the photo, and compared it and immediately saw a difference,” she added.
A previous unaltered image had been used of one of the photos, showing a difference, she said.
Denhoff shot several photos of multiple athletes competing that day, she said, and was “following the news to see how my images have been used to tell Lia’s story.” That’s when she said she came across the “Today” show segment.
“To me, it definitely seems like something was going on with the airbrushing/noise reduction of all of Lia’s photos in this segment,” she told the Examiner. The March 17 segment has gone viral on social media because of the edited photos, according to the Examiner.
NBC has not responded to the Examiner’s request for comment.
Thomas created controversy last week after easily winning the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship 500-yard freestyle. Thomas previously swam on the University of Pennsylvania men’s team and was ranked far lower as a male swimmer.
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