Is Seeing Believing?

Images from War


January 2014 

The Associated Press has severed ties with a freelance photographer who it says violated its ethical standards by altering a photo he took while covering the war in Syria in 2013.


The news service said Wednesday that Narciso Contreras recently told its editors that he manipulated a digital picture of a Syrian rebel fighter taken last September, using software to remove a colleague's video camera from the lower left corner of the frame. That led AP to review all of the nearly 500 photos Contreras has filed since he began working for the news service in 2012. No other instances of alteration were uncovered, said Santiago Lyon, the news service's vice president and director of photography. (Source)


November 14 (AP via Yahoo)
The Associated Press on Friday suspended the use of photos provided by the Defense Department after the Army distributed a digitally altered photo of the U.S. military's first female four-star general.

The image of Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody is the second Army-provided photo the AP has eliminated from its service in the last two months.

The AP said that adjusting photos and other imagery, even for aesthetic reasons, damages the credibility of the information distributed by the military to news organizations and the public.

In the original photo, the general appears to be sitting at a desk with a credenza and bookshelf behind her. Three stars on her uniform identify her as a lieutenant general, her rank before Friday's promotion.

The altered photo, distributed by the Army and run on the AP's photo wire Thursday, shows Dunwoody in fatigues in front of an American flag. Her rank, affixed to the front of a soldier's tunic, is not visible.



Doctored Photo
Original Photo

Aug.6, 2006  Reuters on Sunday withdrew a photo of smoke rising from burning buildings after an Israeli air strike on
the suburbs of Beirut on August 5, 2006 after evidence emerged that it had been manipulated to show more smoke.
The manipulated image is shown on the left. The unaltered image, shown on the right, has since run. Reuters has
told the photographer, freelance Adnan Hajj, that the agency will not use any more of his pictures Related stories:
Blogger story
Reuters news followup
Can we trust war photos?
Doctored war photos ignites controversy
Reuters editor: Cloning tool shouldn't be used to alter photos
A Blogger Shines When News Media Get it Wrong 
Watch video on Photo Fraud

Don't Believe What You See in the Papers (The untrustworthiness of news photography.)
In Wars, Quest for Media Balance Is Also a Battlefield

Daily Mirror picture Daily Mirror Admits Photos Were Manipulated (May 2004)


Altered Photo

LA Times Admits Its War Photographer
Altered Image
Read full story here

Digital Deception 

How damaging is the threat of manipulating photos to the credibility of photojournalism?

See other Images of War

A Picture is no longer worth a thousand words
Which photo is the real thing? 
No one knows for sure in the age of Photoshop. (from


The Dixie Chicks take a publicity shot for their upcoming Middle East tour. Thanks to the Insiders for providing this picture.


click to enlarge

Parody of "Star Wars" movie poster; from Mad magazine

Students should be encouraged to explain how this parody resembles a real


From website about Civil war era photographer Alexander Gardner:
It should also be added, however, that amongst the genuine pictures of the war 
there appear to be a few which are contrived, further proof that whilst the camera 
cannot lie, the person behind it can! For example, when Gardner arrived at the decisive 
scene of the war at Gettysburg two days after it had been fought, he set about 
photographing "Home of a rebel sharpshooter." However, before taking the picture 
he had dragged the body of a Confederate some thirty metres to where he lies in the picture, 
turning the head towards the camera.

Sharpshooter's Den Photo
NEW: Iconic Civil War photograph sparks controversy

See this visual literacy lesson plan incorporating this Civil War photograph

The Case of the Moved Body? Does the Camera Ever Lie? Civil War

Another article


See the History Channel Video

Civil War Journal-
Alexander Gardner:
War Photographer

Teacher Guide