Early Photography

Images from War
Photo Falsification
In the age of Stalin
Case of the Cottingley Fairy photographs

The Spaghetti Harvest


Pop Culture
Space Shuttle
Movie Posters

World Trade Center

Background Readings

(see below introduction)

Recommended Books


Is Seeing Believing?
Resources for teaching about
the manipulation of photographic images
Written by Frank Baker  ©2006

Civil War



Adobe Doesn't Think 'Photoshop' Is a Dirty Word


The assumption a lot of people make is, well, pictures don’t lie — you can believe what you see,” said Santiago Lyon, director of photography for the Associated Press. “But of course pictures can lie, and they do lie, and they’ve been manipulated for a long time.” (Source)

 "Any media that employ digitally doctored photographs will have a stronger  effect than merely influencing our opinion -- by tampering with our malleable memory, they may ultimately change the way we recall history,"  University of Padua researcher Dario Sacchi-- upon release of a study on how people's recollection of historical events is affected by digitally altered news images.

 INTRODUCTION    Note to educators: "Is Seeing Believing?" is the title of a   curriculum I discovered at the Newseum, a museum of news in Washington DC.

 It deals with the manipulation of photographic images in news, history, 
 and culture. I became fascinated by this topic, so I devoted this web site to it. 

 Throughout history the photograph has been manipulated for various purposes.
 It is important for students to understand those purposes and to learn how to 
 question images they find in media and on the Internet.

 Here you will find a number of contemporary examples of the "digital 
 manipulation of images" as well as links to articles about the ethics and the

 A good starting point for students might be the handout "Key Questions," which
 helps them use critical thinking skills as they analyze the images.

 Let me know what you think of this resource. 

 NOTE: Special thanks to Theresa Redmond, Visual Arts educator (Peoples Academy Middle Level in Morrisville VT) for sharing her Webquest and Powerpoint on this topic.

  Current recommended articles/resources

          Study Proves We Still Need to Talk About Photoshop
          The Art & Science of Retouching: What Really Happens To Photos
         The Amazing World of Photo Editing Before Photoshop
         What Did We Do Before Photoshop?
          Is Social Media Making Us Suckers? From Images to Hoaxes, What’s Real?
        Manipulating photos in a pre-Photoshop World/ "Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop"
         Before Photoshop: How Photos Have Been Manipulated For Years

          The World's First Faked Photo
          Startup Reveals If A Photo Is Fake
          Photo retoucher exposes how models REALLY get airbrushed
         Detecting the Truth in Photos
        The Lash Stand: Will new attitudes and regulatory oversight hit delete on some photo retouching in print ads?
        Newspaper Raises Eyebrows With Composite Photo on Page One
       Digitally altered images: famous pictures that have been manipulated using Photoshop
     North Korea not the only offender: 6 official photo fudgings
     Photoshop catastrophes: 2011 The year in review
     Photoshopped or Not? A Tool to Tell / Retouched or not: tool spots photos' too-flawless features
     Great Fakes – Famous Doctored Photographs
     How Civil War Photography Changed War
     Digital Manipulation in the Fashion Industry
     Altered, and out
     How we learned to love Photoshop  
     Point, Shoot, Retouch and Label?
     The Case of The Inappropriate Alarm Clock   Part 1 2 ;  3 4 ; 5; 6; 7
     Looking at the truth of a photo   
  A Move to Curb Digitally Altered Photos in Ads
   Seeing is not believing: Doctoring digital photos is easy.
  Detecting it can be hard

    Digital Photo Disasters In Ads & News
   Microsoft Edits Black Man Out of Photo
   Faked photos: Look, and then look again/ A Brief History of Photo Fakery
   Photoshop disasters may be banned in UK
   Photoshopped images: the good, the bad and the ugly
  New York Times Magazine Withdraws Altered Photo Essay/ Behind The Scenes: Digital Manipulation
   Ethics in the age of digital manipulation
  News Photos that took airbrushing too far
  Is Seeing Believing in an Age of Digital Photos?

   No Airbrushing Is the New All Black
  Photoshop for Democracy Revisited: The Sarah Palin File
  Photo Touch-Ups the New Reality
  Detecting Digital Photo Fakery  What's Real? Learning to Tell Truth From Fiction in The Photoshop Age (PC World, Aug 2008)
  Digital Forensics: How Experts Uncover Doctored Images/
Five Ways to Spot A Fake Photo /Photo Tampering Throughout History (Scientific American)
  In A Photoshop Age, Can You Believe Your Eyes? (NPR)
  Believing Is Seeing (July 2008, The New York Times)
  Scientific American: Digital Forensics, Doctored Photos, and Paula Abdul

(slide show)
  Faked tiger photo sparks Web furor
  Pixel Perfect (The New Yorker)
  Picture Perfect: Has Airbrushing Gone Too Far? (Newsweek)
  Pixel perfect: Why you shouldn't believe your eyes when it comes to those glossy images
  Lesson Plan: Digital Image Manipulation in the Mass Media
  Questions Raised About Darkening of Obama in Hillary Ad  
  Researchers look to spot photo hoaxes

  Say ‘Cheese!’ And Now Say ‘Airbrush!’ (Newsweek)
  Is that really true: urban legends & info eval skills (Jan/Feb 08)
  Pictures can can memory (Nov. 2007)
  Digital detectives discern Photoshop fakery (CSM, Aug 2007)
  Real or not real: The digital game (Media Ethics Magazine)
  Distorted Picture (American Journalism Review)
  I See, I Do: Persuasive Messages and Visual Literacy
 (see also: Pictures That Lie)
 3 Magazines Are Accused of Retouching Celebrity Photos to Excess
(May 2007)
Digital Image Manipulation: A Compelling Means to Engage Students in Discussion of Point of View and Perspective (2006)
  Iowa-tied hoax typifies trickery of Web videos

  The Art of Image Altering
 CBS Photoshops Incoming News anchor Katie Couric
 Seeing Is No Longer Believing
 Photo Fakery: Identifying Falsified Images
 Seeing Isn't Believing: When pictures become propaganda
 Reader's Digest, September 2004 
 Digital imaging zaps braces, zits from yearbook photos
 Digital alteration throughout history
 Hoax or Real Photo Quiz

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