Iconic Photographs With Their Subjects Removed

Fatescapes is a series of images by visual artist Pavel Maria Smejkal consisting of iconic photographs with their subjects Photoshopped out of them. The New York Times writes,

[…] Pavel Maria Smejkal goes a step further and forces us to reconsider the veracity of historical images and the photographer’s role by digitally removing the people that made these images resonant. What is left is the scene as it might have looked just minutes before or after the photographer passed by. These images are reminiscent of a time, before Photoshop, when photographs were believed to be a reflection of reality. Mr. Smejkal’s alterations question whether photographs should be viewed as accurate representation.

See if you can recognize each of these famous historical photographs. The answers are at the end of the post.

The photos are: Napalm Girl, Tank Man, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, Starvation in Sudan, and The Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém.

You can find more images from the series here.

Fatescapes by Pavel Maria Smejkal (via The New York Times via The Click)

  • RBTX

    Napalm girl by Huynh Cong ‘Nick’ Ut.2.
    Tiananmen Square without the tanks
    3. Iwo Jima
     Sudan’s famine by Kevin Carter
    Saigon Execution by Eddie Adams 

  • Wing Wong

    Looks like she setup a foundation to help other children harmed by war. Glad she has become a strong force for helping people in the world. 

  • Ian McKenzie

    I was able to identify all. One thing that strikes me, each of these pictures, with the main subject(s) removed, still stand as well composed. I think part of what makes the originals iconic is the attention to the overall composition.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    And they are pretty eerie to look at. Since you know what’s in them (I was also able to identify them) in the original, there’s a very weird feeling with it gone.

  • Anonymous


  • M.Steve Kemper

    Others have been doing this for quite some time. Arguably the have looked harder and pushed the idea farther.

    See: Brian C. Moss, Paul Pfeifffer, and Josh Azzarella.  

  • Xondra

    All those artists, like Fontcouberta, who question the veracity of photography make me sad. Really, there’s no doubt you can fool millions with a camera and photoshop, but to question absolutely everything seems to me a bit pathological.

  • larr_helms

    I only recognized TWO of these. Although still ‘nice’ images it’s amazing how key subjects MAKE the photo.

  • Bromfed

    How is this not a copyright violation?

  • Josh
  • not new

    Agree, this is nothing new, Josh Azzarella did this years ago, in some cases with the exact same photos (e.g. Tianmanen Square Tank Man) and with video footage as well, and to much greater emotional effect frankly.