Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Documentary Photography - II [Some controversial Images]

Documentary Photography /Photojournalism per se is an authentic representation of our society ... It is widely accepted that Documentary Photographs are not to be “doctored” or “tampered” in any way … This made me do some [quite some] research on what constitutes a doctored/tampered photograph ....

Broadly speaking doctored /tampered photos include ...
[1] "Staged" images ... which includes posed, directed or re-acted photographs ...
[2] "Technologically altered" images, which includes digital manipulation

Some controversial "staged" images …

[1] "Raising Flag on Iwo Jima" ... click here ...
This is said to be one of the most reproduced photos of all times ... It was taken by Joe Rosenthal [an Associated Press photographer] in 1945 ... It depicts six soldiers hoisting the "Stars and Strips” atop Suribachi Yama, at the tip of Iwo Jima [Japan] during WW-II. This photo won him the coveted Pulitzer Award in 1945 ... It is regarded as one of the most recognizable images of the World War-II ... and has been used on postage stamp and on the cover of countless magazines and newspapers ... However controversy surrounds this … as it is said to “staged” flag raising hours after the original event.

[2] "Kiss by the Hotel de Ville" ... click here ... This photo was taken by the famous French photographer Robert Doisneau ... This photo of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris in 1950.... is said to be one his most famous works ... Again controversy surrounds this ... as Doisneau apparently saw them kissing and asked them to "recreate" the action for his camera ... So despite the casual "seemingly spontaneous" quality of this photo ... this is a very posed image of the woman Francoise Bornet and her boyfriend Jacques Carteaud ...

[3] "Migrant Mother" ... click here ... This portrait of Florence Thompson with her children was photographed by Dorothy Lange in 1930 ... It was meant to document the effects of the Great Depression on the population of America. Although everything about this photo [event, model, location] is real, but the photographer is said to have directed her to pose for the photo ... so controversy surrounds it.


Some controversial "digitally manipulated" images ....

[1] A Photojournalists Awards rescinded ... Photographer Patrick Schneider had three prestigious photojournalism awards [2002] rescinded because it was revealed that he'd altered the images. He had darkened some areas of one photo, brightened areas of another photo, and simply added contrast (adjusted both highlights and shadows) to a third. Mr. Schneider's argued that he altered his images mostly for artistic effect…. But this explanation was not accepted … Check out the original and altered images ... PLEASE keep SCROLLING till you reach end of the page ... ... click here ...

[2] Reuters fired a freelance photographer … Adnan Hajj for photo-manipulation using photo-shop … The photo was taken in 2006 Isreal-Lebanon conflict and shows the death and destruction in Lebanon caused by Isreali air-strike … To see the original and altered photo "Adnan Hajj Beirut photo comparison"... click here ...


[3] “Time” magazine and “Newsweek” cover-page controversy … During the O.J. Simpson trial for the murder of his ex-wife … two the magazines “Time” and “Newsweek” had the same cover-page photo ... a mug shot taken of Simpson when he was arrested … [June 27th, 1994 issue] … However the Simpson on the “Time” cover appeared to be much more sinister because the skin tone had been darkened and subtle change made in his facial features ... This appeared on newsstands right next to an unaltered picture by Newsweek ... There was a public outcry ... Many were offended that Time magazine would tamper with photo in covering such a volatile story. Some saw racial overtones in the handling of the photo ... For comparison …
"O.J.Simpson Newsweek & Time" ... click here ...

[4] “National Geographic” cover page controversy [1982] ... When it ran a computer-altered photo of the Pyramids at Giza on its cover page … They wanted to put a picture of camels in the foreground and pyramids in the background ... But the picture could not be cropped so that both the camels and the pyramids would fit the cover-page ... The staff solved the problem by using a photo-imaging computer to move the pyramid ... Check out the image … "National geographic cover page" ... click here ...

I end this post with a quote …
“ Photographs, particularly those used as accurate and trustworthy accounts of a significant event by respected publications, are our best hedge against the threat of devious editors and special interest groups who want to change truth and history. If the manipulation of photographs is accepted for any image, the public will naturally doubt all photographs and text within all publications”. [~ Paul Martin Lester … You can read his article "Faking images in photojournalism" ... click here ...

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