While it’s been said the camera doesn’t lie — and there are many, including me, who would take issue with that axiom — it’s an unfortunate belief that photographers (or more likely those who handle their pictures) can at least fudge the content of an image. Particularly pictures intended to sell products or ideas.
A recent example of manipulation is one from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Photoshop cronies trying to convince everyone he had more supporters in a rally then were actually there.
That’s not stop-the-presses news, however, because last year he was outed doing the same thing with missiles.
Before we join the other protesters decrying his attempts at wholesale deception, however, consider that Ahmadinejad may have taken his lead from National Geographic’s infamous 1983 cover wherein a pyramid was nudged a few hundred yards to make a vertical picture from a horizontal one.
“National Geographic magazine, long known for its reputation of photojournalism excellence, used the Scitex computer digitizer on two…occasions. On a cover story of Egypt, pyramids were squeezed together to fit the cover’s vertical format. A picture story on Poland contained a cover photograph that combined an expression on a man’s face in one frame with a complete view of his hat in another picture. Both cover images were altered without a hint of possible detection and without a note to readers that such manipulation was performed.”
“…Rich Clarkson, director of photography at National Geographic [and former photo editor of the Topeka Capital Journal] when the pyramid and Poland covers were faked, said he had no ethical problem with combining two photographs into a single cover picture, although ‘some publications could start abusing’.”
(“Faking images in photojournalism,” Photojournalism: An Ethical Approach, Paul Martin Lester, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers, 1991.)
Thanks for the idea, Rich.