Activity 8: Authenticity (VC)

The objective of this activity is to gain an understanding of the importance of authenticity in photography and what the ramifications are when it is challenged. Give an example of two photographs that have been challenged.

With the development of software the question “can photos still be trusted” arises more often and authenticity of a photograph is now a well known problem. There are even some companies, like the Fourandsix, who concentrate of developing software that will help to examine the authenticity of a photograph. But what is actually meant by the authenticity? There has been many cases of published photographs that were manipulated. Manipulating the truth might have a large impact on a social, political and other public views or cause misunderstanding or civil litigations. Manipulation can be achieved by adding or increasing contrast of elements in a photo, placing two images together while leaving only some features of each in a final image or leaving some elements of the photo out (great example was a cigarette taken off of one of the photos of the Beatles).

Example 1:

Feb1994-hardingkerrigan

New Tork Newsday. 1994. Fire on Ice.
Available: http://www.fourandsix.com/photo-tampering-history/?currentPage=3

 

This photograph was taken/created in 1994 before Olympics figure skating competition and represents two rival skaters showing them as they practiced together on a cover of New York Newsday in . This photo has been manipulated and it has been published right after an attack to one of them by associate of the other’s husband. So of course this raised a big interested of a public and helped the magazine to get the attention of their buyers as no one would expect them to practice together. This photo has raised a massive discussion about ethics in photography. But the magazine was not claiming this photograph is true, it was actually released day before these two skaters were suppose to meet and the magazine was just ‘joking’ about how their joint practice might look like as they as rivals would never be caught together like that. But even though it has been questioned for ethics especially because it is not clear to the viewer immediately that this is not a true image. But if the reader would read the small writing on the right side that it is clear it is a manipulation, so the magazine was not hiding it. I do agree that the first impression of the viewer is that they skate together and it creates the attention to their cover, so the ethics of this photo is very questionable. 

Example 2:

capa_essay_01

Capa, R. 1936. Falling Soldier.
Available: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/robert-capa/in-love-and-war/47/

The very famous and also controversial photography due to its authenticity is a photo of The Falling Soldier photographer by Robert Capa who was a Hungarian war photographer and photojournalist who documented many wars during his life. He has taken a photograph of a falling soldier during the Spanish Civil War and this photograph has been questioned for many years by many people – you can find many articles about this photograph. Until 1970’s people believed this is a true image but then they started to question if it was staged and also the authenticity of the individual in the picture. There has been a massive research on examining the place and individual through other photographs taken. People have also examined the expression, position of the hand, any proofs of current location, etc. Wikipedia is confirming this photograph has been manipulated but article written by Richard Whelan is finding proofs for the photo to be genuine. This photo is actually a masterpiece of a challenge for its authenticity as up to today they are people believing in both stories. That’s quite interesting – good example is the discussing below the article from Richard Whelan.

References:
http://academics.smcvt.edu/dmindich/photoshop.html 
http://blog.photoshelter.com/2012/07/how-to-determine-the-authenticity-of-a-photograph/ 
http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/photo_database/image/fire_on_ice 
http://www.fourandsix.com/photo-tampering-history/?currentPage=3 
http://www.cnet.com/pictures/pictures-that-lie-photos/9/ 
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/robert-capa/in-love-and-war/47/ 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Capa 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Falling_Soldier

 

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