On “Fauxtography” And Politics

May 31, 2007

Disclaimer: I just want to make a preemptive statement because I know that some visitors will probably bring it up… I understand the power and influence a photograph can have.  There’s a good reason why the saying “a picture is worth 1000 words” exists.  In the past, I know that statement could be made without much chance of an asterisk being attached to it.  In our modern world, however, it can become a tad more complicated.  Given the fact that the majority of today’s images are shot digitally, and can be easily enhanced or altered by relatively simple software in a home computer, the concept that what you see in any particular image is representative of the reality that existed when the shutter originally opened can be brought into question.  In fact, we’re probably only six months away from the existence of technology that would make any live image indistinguishable from something whipped up on some kid’s home computer (if we aren’t there already).  So, I’m fully aware of the increasingly understandable skepticism that accompanies any picture that is deemed important enough to change the way people think about the world.  In other words, the age when a photograph could be used as reasonable proof that any event actually occurred is probably coming to a close.

On the other hand I’d like to think that, in the case of major news and media organizations (what most bloggers refer to as the MSM), we should apply some trust that the images being presented to us are genuine in their content.  Why?  Because the risk and consequences of being caught presenting fraudulent images outweighs whatever benefit the hypothetical agenda-driven manipulator might have in mind (on the whole).

That said…

Take a look at this image (click image for source and caption):

(Hat Tip: LGF)

Look fake to you?  Or, is this just what happens when a photographer points his or her camera in the direction of a bomb dropping and shoots a “burst“?  A lucky (if that’s the appropriate adjective) shot? 

At least one blog (Jawa Report) thought something was fishy.  They seem to have spent all day analyzing whether or not this image was genuine.  In fact, I haven’t seen this kind of critical assessment of images since the Music City Miracle.  If you ask me, there is a little more behind the skepticism than the first impressions of the visual. Are there some underlying political angles factoring into the painstaking deconstructing that was applied to this image?  In other words, did they want this image to be a fake? You decide…

For more on this and other images related to this event, visit Snapped Shot.

For some more of my take that I posted on LGF, start here.


  1. I think Rusty has essentially conceded that it’s not a hoax. I think I’ve done the best I can to prove its veracity.

    There’s not so much a “political” angle to the Right half of the blogosphere’s tendency to see fraud in photography, as much as there is something of an expectation of foul play. Similar sentiments can be found on the Leftysphere as well (remember the Karl Rove / Coptix photo debacle?).

    I do think that, at least from my rightist perspective, we tend to quickly concede when we are wrong, rather than dragging things out…

    Hope this helps make sense of the whole mess!

    Brian/snapped shot

  2. In December 2004, the wingnuts were all atwitter over whether or not an AP stringer was secretly a terrorist propagandist.

    Nothing much has changed since then.

  3. The authoritative answer, funny…

    P.S. Please review icons

  4. It is necessary to be teh optimist.

    P.S. Please review icons

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