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.
Find two photographs that have been challenged for their authenticity and record and reflect the reasons why. From the very early days of photography images have had their authenticity challenged. The reasons for questioning photographic authenticity have been varied, as have been the importance of such questioning. Some of these have been associated with turning points in modern history and have influenced both critical moments in history as well as the way people now perceive the photographic image. Others, while not having the importance of influencing human history, have progressively changed the way we perceive the image. The saying “the camera does not lie” has gone from a believable statement to a sarcastic joke, especially in the last decade with the invention and progression of image manipulation software eg Photoshop. Before selecting the two images to reflect on, do some research on this subject back through the history of photography. This will help you to gain an appreciation of the importance of this issue within the photographic industry, both past and present.
It is part of your assessment that you reference your chosen images correctly.
Allow about 2 hours to complete this activity.
Post the two images along with at least 150 words for each image reflecting on the reasons why their authenticity was challenged and the outcomes of those challenges.
One thing that I have learnt from many of the subjects that I have studied this trimester has been that you simply can NOT trust a modern photograph to be accurate. Indeed, ‘photoshop’ is often used in general conversation by the public as a verb. To manipulate an image in complex manners is no longer the realm of specialists or of professional experienced photographers, in fact, it is not even necessary to own a camera of any sort to produce a realistic and authentic looking image that can frequently confuse experts.
So, I went to the past. Probably one of the most controversial images of all time, that first recorded proof of the the Loch Ness monster, the image was taken by London surgeon Kenneth Wilson in 1934 and immediately ignited controversy, with expert opinion being evenly divided between fake and authentic for many years, but no conclusive decision ever being published and accepted.
It wasn’t until 1975, when the original photographer came forward with a detailed explanation of how the photo was taken, that the image was revealed as a hoax as revenge for an injustice done to his father by the newspaper that the photograph had been submitted to. Indeed, it is still thought by many scholars and experts of both the Loch Ness monster, and photography, that had he not come forward, there would still be no definitive answer to the authenticity of this image.
ONLINE] Available at:http://sabeerhassan.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/april-fools-day-animal-hoaxes-loch-ness-monster-nessie_34038_600x450.jpg. [Accessed 10 January 2014].
I choose yet another 1930’s controversial image, I find that era to be a treasure trove. Photography for the masses was popular, mass media was coming to the fore with air travel reducing the times between an event happening and details being available, all in all, it is an exciting time for the world, between two world wars, and photographers are keen to capture and possibly create the excitement that they feel.
My second image is Robert Capa’s “the falling soldier”. Again, controversy has raged over the photograph , although it didnt’ start until nearly forty years since it was taken during the Spanish civil war in 1936. Was the photo staged??? was it a real soldier or a model?? Was it even taken where Capa claimed???
There have been claims and counter claims, with Capa’s estate, the photographer himself, and biographer always claiming the image was real and genuine, while another The current verdict (and one that has been around for quite some time) is that all the evidence of his movements, the name of the soldier and the sequence of images taken by Capa in that time frame point to the image being as genuine as Capa always maintained it was.
On of the claims made about this photograph is that Capa wanted a staged action shot, grabbed a genuine soldier and while he was re enacting for the camera, he was genuinely killed while Capa was shooting. If this should be true, it would indeed be a tragedy, and a further reminder of why photojournalists shouldn’t interfere with the story that they are telling. Something that Australian Videocameraman Neil Davis was always adamant was an important aspect when covering a conflict. In fact, he was known to have turned away when combatants offered to re enact for him to film some action.
[ONLINE] Available at: https://nppa.org/sites/default/files/the-falling-soldier-1936.jpg. [Accessed 10 January 2014].