ALTERED IMAGES: 150 YEARS OF POSED AND MANIPULATED DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY
From photography’s earliest days, a small number of photographers and editors have misled the public. Others have made mistakes of judgment and execution. Regimes have used altered images as propaganda. This exhibition examines prominent cases and ethical documentary practice.
Documentary photographs and photojournalism must be accurate representations of the scene before the photographer’s camera--without alteration. If the public is to have faith in the integrity of the image before them, and by extension the media, images must be taken and published in a forthright manner. Broadly speaking, the photographic alterations in this exhibition fall into three categories.
Following WWII, a code of photographic ethics emerged. Experienced photo editors, alert to signs of manipulation, pored over negatives and contact sheets. Today, bankrupt and cost cutting media publications have laid off photo editors and staff photographers by the thousands. Many untrained and poorly paid freelancers--each with the power to alter a scene at the click of a mouse--have largely replaced them. Editors with little or no photo experience post images to the web in seconds. Corporations, political campaigns, and regimes around the world flood the Internet with doctored photos. A new barrage of altered images is being presented to the public and we are faced with a crisis of credibility.
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