Coursework, Part 1 - The photograph as document, Project 5 - The manipulated image

Project 5 – Exercise – “The Real and the Digital”

Read the section entitled ‘The Real and the Digital’ in Wells, Liz. (2009) Photography: A Critical Introduction (4th edition). Abingdon: Routledge, pp.73-75. You’ll find this on the student website.

Does digital technology change how we see photography as truth? Consider both sides of the argument and make some notes in your learning log.

Firstly, what is the truth? Everyone has a different view of the truth. Just like a photograph is only one side of the situation or story.

Digital media has created a new argument with regards to its ability to create, manipulate and edit images. Liz Wells states that many questions may arise in such arguments, such as, the nature of the photograph, understanding what is ‘real’ and questions about the relationship of photography to other media. However, even photographs that appear ‘real’ may still have been manipulated in some way. Figures or objects can be removed and added to an image. This can then change the whole story of an image. The amount of times I have heard people say “oh it has been photoshopped”. This makes me believe there is a lot of mistrust in the public when viewing a photograph. People can photoshop themselves in places they have never been to, or put their faces on other people’s bodies. In photojournalism, people expect to see the truth, they expect to see a documentation of what has happened. Unfortunately it is evident that people will still manipulate their images even within the more ‘real’ photography genres such as documentary and photojournalism.

On the other hand, any given photograph can only be a representation of the truth and not the whole story. Everyone viewing the images may have a different perspective of the truth, of what the photographer is portraying.

With regards to model images in magazines and on the internet, I am fully prepared to expect an image that has been altered in some way. I am therefore not expecting the truth when looking at such images. However, when I see news reports in a newspaper or again on the internet, I expect to see the truth. I do not expect photo manipulations in the same way as the model images.


Wells, L.(2009). Photography: A Critical introduction (4th ed.) Abingdon: Routledge

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