PetaPixel

“There Is No Such Thing as Absolute Truth in Photography”

Photography author Ben Long has a thought-provoking article over at CreativePro in which he argues that “all photos are manipulated” and that “there is no such thing as absolute truth in photography”:

All images are Photoshopped. Or Lightroomed, or iPhoto’d, or dodged, burned, re-touched, cross-processed, developed with more or less agitation in the tank, at warmer or cooler temperatures, and so on and so forth. This has been true since the beginning of photography.

Understanding the representational nature of photography will help you take better pictures because you’ll better understand how to exploit the strengths and weaknesses of the medium.

But perhaps more importantly, it’s important to understand that all images are manipulated. Still photos are the dominant communication medium used for everything from entertainment to artistic expression, journalism to sales. Becoming a more informed, understanding viewer will make it easier to understand when and whether there’s any “truth” in the images put before you.

For similar discussions, check out this article by Mark Schacter and this video with Errol Morris.

All Photos Are Manipulated (via Reddit)


Image credit: Truth or Consequences by kxlly


 
 
  • Kyoshinikon

    Even things like composition and timing are a form of manipulation…

  • Bdougher

    Going by that same logic, is there absolute truth in anything?

  • http://profiles.google.com/granttaylorphotos Grant Taylor

    This is one thing I have thought about for quite a while. I can understand photoshoping an entire person out of an image is not the truth but where do you draw the line. If my cropping happens to leave that person out how different is it really. There is no such thing as an unbiased image.

  • http://profiles.google.com/granttaylorphotos Grant Taylor

    This is one thing I have thought about for quite a while. I can understand photoshoping an entire person out of an image is not the truth but where do you draw the line. If my cropping happens to leave that person out how different is it really. There is no such thing as an unbiased image.

  • Seriesrover

    There really isn’t. Go with a group of friends on a walk, trip or whatever – you’ll all get a very different set of pictures.  And its the same if you all take a shot from the same place – you can’t capture every part of the moment so every photograph is always going to be a subset of that…and thats dependent upon whats important to the photographer.

  • Seriesrover

    There really isn’t. Go with a group of friends on a walk, trip or whatever – you’ll all get a very different set of pictures.  And its the same if you all take a shot from the same place – you can’t capture every part of the moment so every photograph is always going to be a subset of that…and thats dependent upon whats important to the photographer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jreinertnash John Reinert Nash

    Those who insist that photojournalistic images have “no image processing applied to them” may be surprised to learn how much color correction, noise reduction and sharpening have been used for years….

    …in film emulsion formulations.

  • Kcahill

    according to my old college philosophy professor… no (but not absolutely no)

  • Iam12whatsthat

    A photograph is a framed perspective.  Think about that for a second.

    Even before we talk about processing, it is already subjective.

  • Igogosh

    Who want to see a true photo of themselves? People pay professional photographers to make a good photo, just like the painters in their time:) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502465459 Alex Cornes

    I see his point. But it’s a stupid naive way to analyse anything. There is no logic to it, otherwise with the same logic, what we see with our very own eyes is manipulated by the fact that it is our brains interpretation of light bouncing off objects. Silly. The whole world is your own individual interpretation and through this logic, manipulation too.

  • Dave

    And how much is done in camera when using a digital camera…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.michael.smith Andrew Michael Smith

    You don’t see things as they are; you see things as you are. 

  • kendon

     there’s still a difference between just not showing something or showing something different than it actually was.

    if i take no picture at all, is that also manipulation?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    Or perhaps you take a photo after the event has happened or the subjects have moved on… that too is manipulation.

  • http://www.marcgcphotography.com Marc Garrido

    Any photograph is an alteration of a reality. However, every picture is a truth by itself.

  • 8fps

    Stupid. This statement is a lie which attempts to trick us to believe that nothing else than lies exist. 

  • Hunter White

    All photographs are accurate. None of them are the truth.
    -Richard Avedon 

  • Killermotion

    There is absolute truth. There is right and wrong. There just seems to be few who care.

  • http://twitter.com/TheCrazyLudwig Ian Ludwig

    You don’t take a photograph, you make it.

    -Ansel Adams