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Contributors and supporters of ThePhotographers.org abide by one technical, semantic, and ethical criterion:

The Materia et Lumen Criterion

Article I: Definition of the Word Photograph

A photograph is a material and permanent, original trace of the light conveyed by an optical system, generated in the instant where light, the photographer’s interaction with his or her environment, and matter connect at the same time. The term "trace" should be interpreted with its existential meaning: an indication of the existence of something. The term “original” helps us to assess the unique genesis of the photograph, and consequently to differentiate a photograph from its reproductions.

Article II: Printing and Publishing Photographs

When we reproduce a photograph, whether by publishing or by printing it, we honor our audience by submitting, to the best of our abilities, a fair reproduction of the photograph. The unfaithful reproduction of the original interaction between light and matter is an act of manipulation. Any deceitful rendering, for example by not mentioning an act of manipulation, is an infringement of our criterion.

Article III: Semantics about Photography

The word "photograph" must be used exclusively for physical originals defined in article I (for example, exposed film negatives and film positives). We suggest the term "photographic print" for a print produced by projecting a photograph on a medium with silver halide based emulsion (for example, gelatin silver prints). We suggest the term "digital print of a photograph" for a print produced by means of computer operated devices (for example, ink-jets, lasers, and sublimation prints) and in compliance with article II. We suggest the term "digital scan of a photograph" to be used when publishing a photograph on the Web. We suggest the term "photography by" for giving credit, on any media, to photographers when reproducing their original photographs in compliance with article II.

Article IV: Information about Photographs

When we exhibit work that reproduces photographs, we honor our audience by submitting the available information about the original photographs.