All photographers are liars
My title does sound too strong, but I think it reveals something about the massive use of photography by newspapers and magazines as a the ultimating tool for stating that what they are writing is true. Photos are obviously not a reflection of reality, far from it.
The examples that you can see in this article, whether it’s the MySpace cropping above or the set up Georgia pics, are blatant lies. However I think that the essence of photography is leading to permanent lies. Following are some of the factors that make
Which mindset are you before taking your pictures? Before going to take pictures at a wedding, in the nature for picturing birds or in a war zone, you’ll have an opinion on the topic or an idea of how you are going to shoot. This subjectivity will influence the outcome of your photography session.
For a freelance news photographer, the intentions will often be to have spectacular images that will sell good and earn him more money.
By choosing the pictures you show, you take control of what people are going to see and think about the event or subject you’ve photographed. This is obvious for newspaper pictures, but you also make a choice of the pictures you will print or keep from your holidays or any other event.
Famous french photo-reporter Henri Cartier-Bresson always refused that his photos get cropped before being published in magazines. Unfortunately, pictures nowadays are cropped almost every time before publication, often to dramatize the situation.
The picture above is a funny example of how cropping can be used to prettify things and show only what will make you look good.
- Habits / tradition
Notice how corporate photos all look alike? That’s for a good reason, people get an idea of how a corporate portrait should look like. Even if some companies try to be different from time to time, most will go the traditional way, thus not taking any risk.
Same thing happens when you go to photography school, there you get conditionned to shoot a particular event the way you are supposed to. The problem with this is that as the viewers get the habits of seeing things this particular way, it becomes very hard to change the way of shooting things or you might face rejection.
- Image manipulation
This is the point where the lie is intended. It’s very commonly used in fashion magazines to make people look better, sometimes giving birth to photoshop disasters. It’s often used on war photos to make the situation look worst by adding rockets or smoke.
A recent case: staged Georgia pictures
A Georgian photographer working for Reuters, David Mdzinarishvili, recently staged photos to feed the western medias with pictures attesting that Russia committed atrocities in Georgia. You get two examples of the manipulation here, and you can also take a look at this russian analysis of two other pictures, with a guy acting in different situations.
The images shown here were published on Reuters website, some have been taken off the site afterwards. Anyway it’s not new to set up pictures to influence the public opinion, it was done in Bosnia as well.
The first picture above was captioned: ” Dead woman being carried away by the georgian soldiers from the town of Gori”. However the dead woman holds on to the nurse. Reuters changed the caption afterwards. The second one shows a screaming desperate man sitting… at the same place where the first one was shot.
These two photos, showing an elderly couple crying their dead son, answer framing needs with a moving dead body and old people acting.