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Kate photo: 'An intern doing that wouldn't get a job' - Photo agency director unimpressed by Princess of Wales's editing

If an intern had produced the sort of editing the Princess of Wales did on her photo of her and her children, they would not get a job, a senior photographic agency executive has told Sky News.

Eric Baradat, a photo director at Agence France-Presse (AFP), described Kate's efforts as "really amateur" and said he and his colleagues "joked this morning, saying if an intern was doing that at AFP, they wouldn't get a job, no chance at all".

He told Sky News they soon realised there was "some very strange business going on" with the picture after it was published on Sunday.

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He said that "the more you look at the picture, the more you enlarge it, it becomes obvious that it's been manipulated or altered or doctored or whatever you call it, really badly... in a way that is really amateur" and "really badly done".

'Total trust' in pictures from palace

As to how the image slipped through their checks, he admitted "doubting images" was one of their responsibilities, "especially nowadays, where no image can be trusted. Basically, no single image can be trusted."

However, all the agencies have "total trust with the material that Kensington Palace is usually sending out", especially given the picture was one without "political consequences".

As experienced editors, he said, they should "debunk a lot of the fake [pictures]" and sometimes use software programmes to help identify them.

But in the case of the 42-year-old princess's editing efforts, "you don't need that", as "it's obvious with the human eye, with somebody that knows digital images that there's not even a need for that".

AFP was one of the agencies that told media outlets to "kill" the photo from their systems and archives.

'Inconsistency' in Princess Charlotte's left hand

The Princess of Wales apologised "for any confusion", admitting on Monday she had edited the Mother's Day image.

"Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing," she said in a statement.

Associated Press told Sky News the photo showed an "inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte's left hand".

Another expert told Sky News it is "unusual" for picture agencies to "kill" a picture.

Truth and accuracy 'as their DNA'

Martin Keene, a former group picture editor at the Press Association, said it was "something that normally happens when somebody's looked at a photograph after it's been transmitted and they've said, 'do you know what, there's something here that doesn't quite look right'.

"And that's when a picture kill is transmitted.

"All picture agencies have truth and accuracy as their DNA - it's something that really matters to them.

"The only thing that they have is their trust and their credibility and they need to know that for their clients and the people who look at their pictures - the readers, the viewers - that their picture really was what the photographer saw when the picture was taken, and that it hasn't been manipulated since that time."

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Agencies, he said, "don't manipulate pictures. The things that agencies can do - we can crop a picture, we can tone the picture, to make sure that the exposure is right, that the colour is right".

"What photo agencies will not do is rearrange or move the content of a photograph," he said.

"You must remember that newspaper picture desks, news agency picture desks are looking at tens of thousands of pictures a day and there is always a great pressure to get a picture moving out to websites, to the next step in the process. So, there is always that pressure to move things quickly."

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Ray Wells, The Sunday Times' picture editor, said it was a "shame" what had happened to "a very keenly-anticipated image", one that was "never going to be just another family snap to send out to the grandparents".

'An unnecessary own goal'

He blamed the princess's media team, he said, as "whether it should have happened or not is one thing; whether it should have been put out is quite another.

"I hope there are some very red faces at Kensington Palace in their press office today, because they've effectively allowed Kate to throw herself under the bus on this. And it begs the question - was anyone paying attention?

"A really professional operation, which they should be, should have been all over this to make sure there was nothing there that was going to come back to haunt them, to embarrass the princess particularly.

"There is so much paranoia about AI and fakery, so many people just waiting to jump on it, that this was an unnecessary own goal."

On Monday afternoon, a Reuters spokesperson said: "The source of yesterday’s handout photo said that she has experimented with editing. The altered photo didn’t meet Reuters standards of image quality, and that is the reason we withdrew it yesterday."

The photo was the first official image released since Kate had abdominal surgery in January.

Royal sources said the Princess of Wales made "minor adjustments" and that she and Prince William - who took the photo - wanted to offer an informal picture of the family together for Mother's Day.

"The Wales family spent Mother's Day together and had a wonderful day," the source added.