Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

What Is Truth’s Image?

Last spring I was thinking a bit about “photo integrity” (whatever that may be). Now, as I ponder the idea of turning hobby into secondary income as photographer, I come across this in the New York Times’s No Picture Tells the Truth. The Best Do Better Than That.

But the untruth – or, at least, imperfect truth – of any single photograph is inescapable. Some readers object to the way a picture is cropped, arguing that evidence changing its meaning has been sliced out of the frame. But meaning is determined long before that. A photographer points the camera here , then turns three inches to the left and snaps again: different picture, maybe a different reality.

Perception, they say, is reality. Alter the picture, alter the perception, and you can alter reality – or at least someone’s view of it. And, as the Times’ editor points out, you don’t even need Photoshop to do so.

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