NEW YORK, NY – Erica Denhoff, a photographer and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania said that she was “surprised” and “disappointed” that a photo she had taken of transgender athlete Lia Thomas that was aired on the Today show last week appeared to have been significantly altered in order to “soften” the Penn swimmer’s features.
Denhoff, upon watching the March 17 segment featuring her photo, initially thought that “something was honestly wrong with the video.” But upon re-watching it several times, realized that the Today show’s producers had clearly doctored her photo.
“When I first noticed the airbrushing on the segment referenced, I thought something was honestly wrong with the video. But then, I watched it again and thought, ‘Wait a minute, this appears to be intentional. Lia’s features are softened,'” Denhoff said. “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.”
Denhoff noted that she believes the Today show’s decision was “intentional” to alter her photo which disappointed her personally because “I pride myself on providing authentic images as a photojournalist. It’s really important as photojournalists that we transmit authentic photos that have not been altered.”
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“My photo that they licensed was an authentic photo,” she added. “I’m surprised and disappointed that Today altered my image of Lia for this particular news segment.”
Denhoff had taken the photo of Thomas while covering the Ivy League Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships as part of the media.
Today had previously used the same exact photo of Thomas – this time, completely unaltered – on an episode that aired earlier in March, Denhoff said; however, she noted that all of the photos of Thomas that were featured on Today on March 17 appeared to have been altered, not just hers.
“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 said.