Thursday, July 9, 2015

making things photographically 'better'

Before it got mangled, the Chinese observation used to be, "One picture worth 10,000 words." There was a time when 10,000 was a figure used to indicate incalculability.

Now the number has been reduced to 1,000 -- a comprehensible figure that indicates relative, rather than vast and absolute perspective.

Either way, I guess, a picture does often leave all the chit-chat in the shade: The photo of a starving child transmits in a trice, where a disquisition on "starvation" tends to numb with its litany of facts. A visual image doesn't lie ... sort of.

But now, in New York, there is an exhibition of photo images that may be iconic but are also doctored for greater effect.
[Michael] Kamber is so troubled by the rise in manipulation of press images that he has co-curated a new exhibition in New York. Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography reveals more than 40 photos that have been faked, posed or manipulated, from 19th-Century propaganda to 21st-Century digital trickery.
No longer is the truth enough. There needs to be my vision of the truth. The arrogance of the digital-age is disheartening. When things get serious, your opinion and mine, your vision or horror and mine, can go suck an egg. Photos were once a touchstone for getting a 'true' story. Now, because manipulation is so easy, the 'truth' is not enough.
Kamber decided to mount this exhibition after controversy surrounding this year’s World Press Photo competition, in which a fifth of the finalists were disqualified for manipulating their images.
The resulting mediocrity of thought and creativity is breath-taking.

True, "let the buyer beware." But is there some emphasis that can likewise be placed on the value of an "honest broker?"

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