Thursday, 8 May 2008

Photography and truth

Manipulated NOT faked - Raising the flag over the Reichstag, May 1945

Truth and photography. You attempt to deal with this little issue at your peril, but after reading an article on Spiegel online, i was just amazed about how puritanical the writer, Michael Sontheimer, was about photography.

Images do not equal truth; the old saying that 'the camera never lies' is just wrong. It's a fact that all photographers, to one extent or another, are manipulating the viewers perspective of the subject. I'm not talking about digital manipulation here. The choice of camera, lens, colour or black and white, image cropping, angle of the viewpoint and the lighting, not to mention other factors, all have an affect on the final image and how it is viewed.

Spegiel Online's article focused on the Russian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei who photographed the famous scene of the Soviet flag being hoisted above Berlin's battered Reichstag in May 1945. The article uses the rather misleading title 'Iconic Red Army Reichstag Photo Faked'. What had the photographer done to the image? He had added some smoke, replaced a flag and scratched out a watch on the wrist of one of the soldiers; the officer had TWO watches, taken as loot during the conquest of Berlin. Manipulation of an image? - Yes. The faking of an image - No!

1 comment:

Richard said...

One thing i forgot to mention in this post was the clever use of the photo montage techniques by Soviet photographers. It was commonly seen in soviet propaganda, involving making one main image out of several. Although it may be seen as manipulation (which it was) the images were created to convey an idea or message to the Soviet people that a conventionally shot image could not.

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