A stunning photograph can often represent an event more effectively than a full text story. Unfortunately, these stunning news images, often political, are often doctored to seem more impressive, more imposing, or to appeal to a certain crowd. Pictures can be extremely representative of situations, and the media understands the impact an amazing photograph can have. Thus, a photograph is often set up to represent one perspective, or it is tampered with after it is taken.
Below, we see the iconic shot of Ulysses S. Grant on horseback during the Civil War. This majestic shot is actually a composite of three images … the final image is not even Grant’s real body!
Above is an example of modern-day media distortion. Both Newsweek and TIME started with the same shot, but TIME’s interpretation makes the subject seem much more imposing.
In the example below, the left shot was widely circulated throughout George W. Bush’s presidency. However, the original photograph with the former president holding the book properly is shown directly to the right. This photo was most likely doctored by an anti-Bush advocate to make the former president seem unintelligent.
Below, this left shot of President Obama was widely circulated within his first few years as president. This photo was most likely doctored by an anti-Obama advocate. It was thought that if the president was believed to be a regular smoker, he was incapable of successfully leading the country. The original photo on the right uncovers the truth behind the edit.
The above (left) 1942 portrait depicts Benito Mussolini in an authoritative, powerful use atop a horse. The left portrait was doctored because the original on the right includes Mussolini’s horse handler. The horse handler was thought to detract from Mussolini’s authority over the horse, and for the larger metaphor of his control over the National Fascist Party. Thus, the horse handler was airbrushed out.
The left 1936 photograph was edited when Po Ku got into a disagreement with Communist Mao Zedong. Po Ku was airbrushed out, as Mao Zedong no longer wished to associate himself with Po Ku.
This 1860 photo comparison on the right proves that Abraham Lincoln never actually posed for this stately portrait used to advance his social standing … his head was simply placed on the body of Southern politician John Calhoun. Some words were changed on the paper in the background as well to more accurately depict Lincoln’s views.
In 2011, a Hasidic newspaper airbrushed Hillary Clinton out of this Osama Bin Laden situation room photo from the White House. This created a stir, as Hillary was most likely airbrushed out because she is a woman. Hasidic Judaism holds a complex view of women in politics, and thus the decision was made to airbrush Clinton out of the photograph altogether. The original photo is shown directly below.
When the chief minister of an Indian state in the photograph below found himself addressing a political with an unimpressive number of people in the audience, his press department simply photoshopped some more people into the crowd. However, when the public received the photograph, they quickly noticed the editing job, as the press department had simply cloned parts of the pre-existing crowd to fill in the gaps. This has happened on numerous other occasions at political rallies over the years.
University of Minnesota.
2012 Falsification of History. Electronic document, http://www.tc.umn.edu/~hick0088/classes/csci_2101/false.html, accessed October 20.
2011 Photo Tampering throughout History. Electronic document, http://www.fourandsix.com/photo-tampering-history/, accessed October 20.
2009 Politics of Photoshop: 15 Shady Edits for Political Purposes. Electronic document, http://www.greendump.net/tag/photo-manipulation, accessed October 21.
Foreign Policy Magazine.
2011 Hasidic paper airbrushes Hillary Clinton out of Sit Room photo. Electronic document, http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/05/09/hasidic_paper_airbrushes_hillary_clinton_out_of_sit_room_photo, accessed October 21.
2007 Photoshop to boost Kashmir CM image. Electronic document, http://www.kashmirnewz.com/n000246.html, accessed October 23.