Now, news has emerged that cosmetic company L’Oreal has pulled a series of advertisements, citing that an excessive amount of post-production was done to exaggerate what their products could do. Read more…
On April 8, 2011, Senator Jon Kyl was quoted on the Senate floor as saying, “If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”
This is not a post about abortion or Planned Parenthood. This is a discussion about veracity and why it matters in photojournalism. In fact, about 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion-related. When Sen. Kyl was confronted with the facts, his office responded with “his remark was not intended to be a factual statement.” Read more…
Sternfeld recognizes the passive-aggressive coerciveness of pictures, and enlists their manipulative power. “You take 35 degrees out of 360 degrees and call it a photo,” he told the Guardian in a 2004 interview. “No individual photo explains anything. That’s what makes photography such a wonderful and problematic medium.”
[...] A century ago, anything a camera captured was widely accepted as fact. Today every image is presumed to be contrived. We’re wary of underhanded propaganda and attuned to journalistic perspective. Yet as concerned as we’ve become about pictures, we remain all too confident about our unmediated vision, which is also inherently selective, limited by when and where we’re looking. Sternfeld’s pictures remind us that, like a camera, our eyes are essentially passive. Like photography, observation is an act of authorship.
In the beginning of last month, Nokia was caught faking sample photos and footage in a promo video for the camera on its new Lumia 920 phone. A couple of weeks later, bogus information about camera sensors was found on the official website for Hasselblad’s new Lunar mirrorless camera. This week, we have a new episode of “camera marketing fail” for you, this time brought to you by Phase One. Read more…
Photographs of of Syria these days are filled with grim sights of pain and suffering. One Austrian newspaper apparently decided that the photos weren’t grim enough. Kronen Zeitung, Austria’s largest newspaper boasting ~3 million readers, published a photo this past weekend (top) showing a couple stepping through the rubble of a destroyed building complex with their child wrapped in a blanket. A powerful image… but completely fabricated. The original photo (bottom) published by the European Pressphoto Agency two days earlier shows a completely different scene.
The New York Times has an interesting article examining how retouching has spread beyond fashion and advertising photos into editorial photography, conditioning the public to accept images that are “heightened versions of the truth”. One reason is pressure from celebrity subjects:
The demands of celebrities also drive this broader trend toward perfection. Mr. Granger said that he found more photographers are being pressured to produce shots that the actors or actresses like because celebrities then will request the photographer in the future for other magazine covers or for advertising work. That can be critical because editorial work alone is not enough to sustain a career in photography.
Ms. Greenberg said that in 2002 she shot Tom Cruise when he was wearing braces. She used Photoshop to remove the braces before submitting the photographs but the magazine asked her to put the braces back in.
“I was sad because I was like ‘now Tom Cruise is going to hate me,’ ” she said. Ms. Greenberg has not shot Mr. Cruise since then.
During the 9/11 attacks in NYC, Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker shot what is perhaps the most controversial image created that day: a photo that appears to show a group of young people casually enjoying themselves while the World Trade Center burns in the background. Hoepker kept the image under wraps for four years and then caused quite a stir after publishing it in a 2006 book. Columnist Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times that “The young people in Mr. Hoepker’s photo aren’t necessarily callous. They’re just American.” Read more…
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.