Chapter Six
Picture Manipulations


Paul Martin Lester

Photojournalism An Ethical Approach

(c) 1999

Photojournalism has a long and cherished tradition of truthfulness. The impact of the visual image on a viewer comes directly from the belief that the "camera never lies." As a machine, the camera faithfully and unemotionally records a moment in time. But a machine is only as truthful as the hands that guide it. John Szarkowski (1980), director of photography for the Museum of Modem Art in New York, explained that when truthfulness and visual impact are combined in a powerful picture, such an image can shock the public. But that public trust, however, can also be manipulated.

The faking of photographs, either through stage direction by the photographer or through picture manipulations, also has a long tradition. Photographers and editors learned early in photography's history that economic and political gains can be made by photographic manipulations because of a naive and trusting public. Even Pulitzer Prize winning images, photographs that have been hailed as beautiful, humanistic documents filled with sorrow, hope, or joy, have been questioned because of rumors of manipulation.

The media have been criticized for showing so many gruesome images that the public has hardened toward violent injustices. There is growing concern that new technological advances that allow easy and undetectable picture manipulation cause the public to be unconcerned about the truthful content of photographs as well. With the acceptance of television "docu-dramas" that show fiction within a factual framework, it is not surprising that news organizations have used Hollywood techniques to create facts. When pyramids are moved and moons are enlarged for cover pictures of well-respected photojournalism publications, the public grows cynical and mistrustful of journalism. The Hedonism philosophy is taken to its most exaggerated point when business, not telling the truth, is the prime concern.

Howard Chapnick (1982) eloquently summed up the dangers to journalism with such manipulations. "Credibility. Responsibility. These words give us the right to call photography a profession rather than a business. Not maintaining that credibility will diminish our journalistic impact and self-respect, and the importance of photography as communication" (pp. 40-41). With all the other ethical issues photojournalists should be concerned about, picture manipulation, especially through the use of computers, is a topic journalists are most concerned about. The threat to credibility is irreversible if the public starts to mistrust the integrity of the news photograph.

Hippolyte Bayard and the First Faked Photograph

Early photographic history is filled with artists-turned-photographers who set up situations with models and backdrops and made elaborate compositions from several negatives. Although he is seldom given credit, Frenchman Hippolyte Bayard discovered a useful photographic process independent of Daguerre and Fox Talbot in 1839. Frustrated by the lack of recognition, Bayard made the first faked picture and caption combination in 1840. He made a photograph of himself posed as a corpse and wrote on the back of the print, "The Government, which has supported A Daguerre more than is necessary, declared itself unable to do anything for M. Bayard, and the unhappy man threw himself into the water in despair." Two years later, the Societe d'Encouragement pour I'Industrie Nationale gave Bayard a prize of 3,000 francs (Gemsheim, 1969, p. 87).

In 1857, Oscar Rejlander produced a picture with a documentary quality. Captioned, "Street urchins tossing chestnuts," the photograph shows a young boy in ragged clothes, delightfully looking up at a chestnut he has presumably just tossed into the air. But stopping a moving object in mid-air was a technical feat impossible with the slow film and lenses in use at that time. Rejlander produced the effect through the use of a fine thread. In that same year, he also made the controversial, "The Two Ways of Life," an elaborate story of a young man's decision to follow the good or evil way of life. Thirty separate negatives were combined to produce the single image (Pollack, 1977, p. 175).

Another artist-photographer who produced composite pictures was Henry Robinson. From five separate negatives, Robinson created the enormously popular, "Fading Away." In a stage-like setup, the image shows a young woman on her deathbed accompanied by grieving family members in various poses.

Cliff Edom (1980) noted that "Both composite pictures were criticized by a minority group for 'misrepresenting the truth' " (p. 184). The criticism apparently moved Rejlander to denounce the process. In a letter to Robinson he wrote, "I am tired of photograph-for-the-public, particularly composite photos, for there can be no gain and there is no honor, only cavil and misrepresentation" (Gernsheim, 1969, p. 247).

Portrait photography was enormously popular among the middle class, but picture patrons complained that the images showed all their facial peculiarities. Consequently, photographers of the day regularly softened wrinkles and removed facial blemishes with elaborate techniques. One of the earliest portrait photographers was Frenchman, Gaspard Felix Tournachon, or Nadar as he was professionally named. Although Nadar employed "six retouchers of negatives; and three artists for retouching the positive prints," he personally found the custom of retouching photographs to be "detestable and costly" (Newhall, 1982, pp. 69-70).

The photographic materials of the 1840s and 1850s were not overly sensitive to green and extremely sensitive to blue. Consequently, prints of nature scenes were often disappointing as a landscape was either a silhouette with clouds appearing in the sky, or the landscape was exposed correctly and the sky was printed white. To satisfy the public's thirst for photographs that contained a well-exposed landscape and sky, photographers usually reduced the sky with cyanide of potassium or painted on the sky with India ink. As Gernsheim (1969) noted, "By the first method dark rain clouds were obtained, by the second, white cumulus clouds." Double exposure techniques were sometimes used to bring land and sky into exposure harmony. Some photographers by the 1880s even traded or sold favorite cloud negatives to other photographers "with incongruous results: a dramatic cumulus cloud might serve for an Alpine scene, an English cathedral, and the Pyramids" (p. 264).

Civil War Manipulations

By the time of the Civil War, photography was well established as one of the most influential mediums in the world. Mathew Brady, a respected portrait photographer with galleries in Washington, DC and New York, established the first picture agency to cover the war. He hired brave photographers and equipped them with all the necessary tools of the trade to ride in horse-drawn portable darkrooms and make pictures of the war. Most of the pictures Brady's photographers took were in the form of tintypes, cheaply made images printed on metal or inexpensive images called, "cartes de visite." The soldiers sent the images to their loved ones back home.

Many of the battle scenes and portraits, credited to Brady, are valued documentary images in the Library of Congress. But Brady made few photographs during the Civil War. When pictures were sent to him from the cannonball covered battlefields by his staff photographers, he quickly attached the credit line, "Photograph by Brady." Brady hoped to increase the likelihood of picture sales if people thought he made the images. Brady thought he would make a fortune with the documentary pictures from the war. But the public, grown weary of a costly war, were not interested in paying for the images. Brady died practically penniless (Pollack, 1977, pp. 56-59).

Other unethical picture manipulations during the Civil War have been discovered by researchers. William Frassanito (1978) located two stereocard views attributed to Brady taken after the first battle of Bull Run in July 186 1. One view shows a group of standing, kneeling, and firing soldiers. The second picture titled, "Confederate Dead on Matthews Hill," shows the same group of soldiers lying on the ground, presumably killed. Frassanito disputed the authenticity of these scenes because Brady fled with the Union Army shortly after the battle and one man in the picture is dressed in a heavy overcoat, a strange wardrobe choice for July. "Someone apparently told the soldiers to pretend they were fighting in the one view," wrote Frassanito, "and then instructed them to pretend they were dead in the other" (pp. 31-32).

In an article titled, "The Case of the Rearranged Corpse," Frederic Ray (1961), art director for Civil War Times magazine, detailed a more famous manipulation. A photographer under Brady's employ, Alexander Gardner, is credited with a series of pictures he made of 18-year-old Pvt. Andrew Hoge of the 4th Virginia Infantry in Gettysburg. Hoge was stationed in a sniper's nest behind a barricade of rocks. The photograph captioned, "Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter," in Gardner's book, Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, shows the dead sniper lying on his back, his face turned toward the camera, and his rifle propped up against one of the rocks. The image would have remained a striking photographic document if it were not for another picture by Gardner that shows the same soldier in a different location. This photograph is a closer view of the young man still lying on his back, but his face is turned away from the camera and his rifle lies on the ground by his side. Apparently, the frustration with using slow films and lenses that made it impossible to photograph action during the heat of a battle, caused Gardner to create his own dramatic pictures. Ray wrote that Gardner "was guilty of at least a misdemeanor as a photographic historian" and concluded that his ethical transgressions were "nothing serious" (p. 19). But when a photographer is shown to fake a picture, all of his work is put into question. Again, the issue is credibility.

Stefan Lorant found an early photographic fake when he was investigating pictures for a book about Abraham Lincoln. Lorant was the art director for the London Picture Post magazine, the inspiration for Life and Look magazines. He discovered that the popular close-up portrait of Lincoln seen on the $5 bill was sandwiched atop the body of Southern statesman, John Calhoun by a darkroom technician. The result was a classic full-length portrait of the former president. The North and the South were once again united. Entrepreneurs at the time were eager to make money from Lincoln's assassination. But in their haste, the President's famous mole appeared on the wrong side of his face. Nevertheless, the full-length view of Lincoln is a popular portrait (MacDougall, 1971, p. 120).

Mathew Brady and his staff were responsible for one last photographic fake that involved the Civil War. General Sherman and his staff came to the Brady studio to have their group portrait made after the War. However, General Blair, an important member of Sherman's staff, could not attend the photo shoot. Nevertheless, the group picture was taken. At a later date, a head and shoulders picture of Blair was made. The image of his head was then attached to the group picture with his name already imprinted. Lucky for Brady that Blair did not suddenly die between the two portrait sittings (Pollack, 1977, pp. 193-194).

Although never accused of faking a picture, documentary photographer and writer, Jacob Riis, did use a manipulation technique that was successfully accomplished by Mathew Brady. Because Riis was not a trained photographer, he often hired them to accompany him on his nightly journeys through New York's seedy underworld. The popular story is that Riis could not rely on his photographers because they either would not show up for scheduled appointments or became frightened by the rough characters they were asked to photograph. Riis was forced to learn photography and took the pictures that were used in his lectures and for his book, How the Other Half Lives. But one of his most famous photographs, "Bandit's Roost," was actually taken by Richard Hoe Lawrence. How many other photographs Riis took credit for, but were actually the work of Lawrence or another amateur photographer, Henry Pifford, is not known (Jussim, 1989, p. 40).

Engraving and Halftone Manipulations

Stephen Horgan in 1873 is credited with inventing the halftone printing process that replaced the artistic renderings of the engraved images with real pictures that were captured "from nature." The first photograph printed with the new technique, captioned, "A Scene in Shantytown, New York" showed crumbling buildings and piles of dirt from an obvious poor section of town. The image printed in 1880 by the New York Daily Graphic, was not meant to be an illustration of the newspaper's commitment to correcting dire social problems within the city of New York, but was simply part of a set of various printing techniques that were demonstrated by the newspaper. The Horgan invention was considered too expensive and difficult to use. F. E. Ives improved the process in 1890 to a technique that is still in use today (Jussim, 1989, pp. 44-45).

It took several years before the halftone process caught on because publishers had a large investment with engravers, many disliked the quality of printed photographs, and editors and artists had more control over engraved images. Once publishers started using photographs, however, engraving technology was abandoned (Jussim, 1989, pp. 42-45).

As Estelle Jussim (1989) wrote in The Eyes of Time: Photojournalism in America, the turn of the century began an era when readers were "impressed more by the fact that a photograph could finally be made to appear in a newspaper or magazine than by the content of that picture. . . . It was an era deluged by the products of the press and manipulated by warring publishers who displayed few ethical concerns. Photojoumalistic images would be perceived as visual fact, but were actually more often propaganda and pure sensationalism" (p. 38). Faked pictures, as Jussim wrote, "became a frequent accompaniment to hyped stories" (p. 53). Robert Taft (1938) noted in his book, Photography and the American Scene, that "by the time the faked photograph is reproduced in halftone, it is impossible to detect the forgers from the print alone" (p. 448). Art directors who regularly ordered the manipulation of engravings saw nothing ethically wrong with manipulating photographs.

Stage-managed and composite photographic techniques were common contrivances by the turn of the century. The highly theatrical photographs were usually made by painters new to the photographic medium. Typical of the genre was the early work of painter-turned-photographer, Edward Steichen. In 1902 he made a striking portrait of the artist, Rodin with his famous piece, "Le Penseur." The 11 portrait of the artist and the sculpture were exposed on separate negatives and combined into a single print" ("Caption," 1989). Later in his career, Steichen is most known for creating one of the most successful photojournalism exhibitions in the world, "The Family of Man."

Worried over real estate prices and population declines, Gladys Hansen (1989), in her recent book, Denial of Disaster, showed evidence that many of the photographs made during the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco were re-touched. City officials authorized artists to alter photographs to minimize the appearance of damage from the earthquake. It was assumed at the time that prospective settlers to San Francisco would understand damage from a great fire, but would not move to the area if the full fury of the earthquake was publicized.

Susan Moeller (1989) wrote that many pictures taken by war photographers covering the Spanish-American War in Cuba were posed. Fighting scenes were re-enacted and bodies were moved for better compositions. Some creative photographers even re-enacted famous battle scenes in New Jersey backyards and bathtubs. During World War I, many photographs were manipulated for propaganda purposes. For example, newspapers showed faked photographs of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany cutting off the hands of babies (Edom, 1976, p. 31).

In Making People Disappear, Alain Jaubert (1986), chronicled numerous photographic abuses by mostly totalitarian regimes. Through retouching, blocking, cutouts, recentering, and effacement techniques, historical pictures have been altered to reflect a political leader's version of the truth. For example, the photograph that showed the 1917 attack by revolutionary soldiers on the Winter Palace in Russia was actually a re-enactment during a daylight street celebration three years later. The actual attack occur-red in almost total darkness. The famous photograph was darkened and the windows of the Palace "were painted white to give the illusion of a building seen at night and lighted from within" (p. 44).

Spirit Photography

A curious and little-mentioned photographic genre, spirit photography, supposedly captured the likeness of the spirit of a deceased person. Spirit photography, an outgrowth of the Spiritualism religious movement, was proven by photographic experts, including the famous magician and escape artist, Harry Houdini, to be double exposure fakes. Unsophisticated to the technical considerations of photography and wanting to believe in the truth of the photograph, people paid money to spiritual mediums and believed the results. Usually a psychic medium would make, an appointment with a customer and ask for a picture of the deceased. This portrait, it was told, was necessary in order to communicate more easily with the dead loved one. The spirit photographer would expose part of a negative plate with the image. Using that same negative during a portrait sitting, the photographer simply developed the image and showed the print to the amazed and grateful customer (see Black, 1922; Bird, 1923; Edmunds, 1966; Houdini, 1924).

Houdini traveled the world exposing the tricks mediums used to dupe their customers. There were hundreds of ways the spirit photographers used to manipulate negatives to produce spirits on film and Houdini usually caught them all. He often traveled with Arthur Conan Doyle, of the Sherlock Holmes stories, to debate the truthfulness of the spirit photographs. Curiously, Doyle, an amateur photographer, was one of the most strident advocates of spirit photography in the world. With large prints and stories from mediums, Doyle would spread the gospel of ghosts. He usually opened his lectures with, "Tonight I propose to put before you some pictures and photographs which will illustrate . . . the physical results which come from psychic knowledge" (from the "Opening of the Photographic Lecture," Humanities Research Center, Austin, TX, Doyle collection). As more people became technically sophisticated about photography, spirit photographs soon faded into thin air.

The "Yellow Journalism" era, fueled by the intense competition between Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York Tribune and William Hearst, publisher of the New York Journal, created a readership that demanded dramatic and sensational stories in their newspapers. In a time when ethical considerations gave way to economic interests, editors and photographers were willing to obliged their publishers.

Ken Kobre (1980) in his textbook, Photojournalism: The Professionals' Approach, credited editor Emile Gavreau and assistant art director Harry Grogin of the New York Evening Graphic with creating a faked news picture. The technique called a composograph, used 20 separate negatives to fake a sensational divorce trial after photographers were ejected from the courtroom by the judge. Newspaper staff personnel posed as trial participants for the picture. Although the Graphic admitted in tiny print that the composographs were faked, the sensational images were enormously popular among readers.

Photographers were recruited to satisfy the visual needs of the newspapers. "Competition for the low-paying, exhausting [photographer] jobs was fierce," wrote Claude Cookman (1985), a photography historian. Joseph Costa, NPPA's first president, admitted that the heightened sense of competition fostered many unethical acts besides faked images. Some photographers put ear wax on lenses, exposed negatives, and stole negative holders from other photographers. "Sabotage was standard practice," said Costa, "and no photographer with any street savvy at all would ever let his camera bag or equipment out of his sight" (p. 116).

As William Strothers (1989), readers' representative for The San Diego Union wrote, sometimes those camera bags contained more than camera equipment. "There are stories of some long-ago reporter-photographers covering the police beat who used to carry teddy bears in their cars. When they sped to the scene of an accident involving a child, the toy would be employed to add poignancy to the photograph. It also was common practice for photographers to pose participants in news events to get good pictures" (p. 25).

In 1943, New York Journal photographer Harry Coleman admitted in his book, Give Us a Little Smile, Baby, that he would dress up a body at the morgue with a shirt and tie and prop it up for a seemingly life-like portrait of the deceased subject. At the scene of a homicide, Coleman would also describe the victim to a fellow photographer over the telephone who would "dig up a real photograph of, say, John L. Sullivan, remove his ferocious mustache, paint a General Grant beard across his massive chin, and send it to the engravers as a legitimate picture of an unidentified body in a foul murder" (cited in Ahlhauser, 1990, p. 2).

In a reaction to the many manipulated pictures by news photographers, Kent Cooper (1947), an executive for the Associated Press wrote the following:

This is a personal appeal for a new approach to pictures of people taken individually or in groups. I earnestly ask that you put a premium on the natural, unposed pictures of people. Obviously you cannot pose spontaneous shots without being deceitful. It is just as deceitful for a photographer to make a man or woman to look some way or act some way that is unnatural. (p. 48)
C. William Horrell (1955) noted in a survey of newspaper photographers that "a need was expressed for more natural and truthful photographic reports, a kind of report which could be achieved through greater use of unposed subjects being photographed with existing light" (p. 187). By the 1950s, the manipulation of subjects was widely condemned by professionals. However, abuses still occurred.

April Fool's and Political Fakes

April Fool photographic fakes were popular in newspapers during the first half of this century. Curtis MacDougall (1940) in his book, Hoaxes, detailed several instances where newspapers published such images as giant sea creatures, Viking ships, and a man supposedly flying by his own lung power. The Madison, Wisconsin Capital-Times went so far as to publish a photographic composite of the capitol dome collapsing in 1933 that needlessly alarmed hundreds of people. Photography editor Cliff Yeich ("One person's gallery," 1985) recently revised the April Fool joke for his newspaper, the Reading, Pennsylvania Eagle-Times. Yeich used double printing techniques to show the Concorde SST aircraft landing at the Reading airport, an oil tanker cruising down the Schuykill River, and two children playing with a giant wishbone from a 750-pound turkey. Although popular with many readers, such examples of fun with photography do not belong in a newspaper. A photographer who employs such trickery might be tempted to use the technique for news events. Yeich, for example, after a recent rain storm, created the look of flooded conditions on Reading's main street with a mirror. Another wet day at a horse racing track resulted in a picture of a faked motorboat ride on the oval course. The pictures were not printed on April Fool's day. Curiously, April Fool's day hoaxes can still be found on college campuses. Many university newspapers have April Fool's editions that lampoon campus issues and personalities in faked stories and pictures.

More serious fakes involved political subjects. A 1928 campaign picture of Herbert Hoover and his runningmate was faked because Hoover refused to pose with the vice-presidential candidate, Charles Curtis. Life magazine revealed a composite photograph, produced by a rival politician, of a Maryland Democrat running for office that looked like he was conferring with a Communist leader. The image was actually the result of two separate photographs. The image was widely distributed among the electorate. The Democrat lost the election (MacDougall, 197 1).

Floyd Collins' Faked Caption

Truth was again a victim during journalism's most sensational era. Floyd Collins was a man who wanted to build his own amusement park. In 1925, he became trapped while exploring Sand Cave a few miles from the famous, Mammoth Cave in rural Kentucky. For 17 days, rescue workers attempted to free Collins, but without success. He died from starvation. Fifty reporters on the scene turned Collins into a national martyr. Over 20,000 people from 16 states jammed into the area after reading the newspaper articles. In the movie, Ace in the Hole, Billy Wilder critically presented the side-show atmosphere surrounding the hole in the ground (Lesy, 1976, p. 220).

Competition was intense among journalists on the scene to get interviews and pictures no other newspaper had. William Eckenberg, a photographer for the New York Times, learned that a farmer had a picture of Collins taken 10 days earlier while inside another cave. Eckenberg found the picture, made a copy and sent it to New York. The picture was used by many papers across the country. Some papers, including the Chicago Daily Tribune, accurately described the circumstances surrounding the picture's history. Many other newspapers, however, perhaps to heighten interest in the image, used the picture without an explanation. A team of journalism historians were also fooled by the picture. In America's Front Page News 1690-1970, a caption under a reproduction of the front page of the New York, The World reads, "The haunting picture of explorer Floyd Collins, peering from the Kentucky cave in which he was wedged for 17 days, appeared on the day he was found dead of exhaustion and starvation" (see Emery, Schuneman, & Emery, 1970; Faber, 1978).

Manipulations by Cropping

Cropping out significant elements of a picture in order to produce a misleading image has been used for various motivations by photographers. President Franklin Roosevelt, stricken with polio and confined to a wheelchair, was photographed with close-ups by sympathetic photographers who did not want to show the public the full extent of his feeble condition. Likewise, photographs of Governor George Wallace, after he was paralyzed from an assassination attempt, were cropped for the same reason. An infamous example of creative cropping occurred during Senator Joseph McCarthy's hearing on Communists in the government. To imply that Secretary of the Army Robert T. Stevens had a close relationship with an enlisted man, Private G. David Schine, a picture of the two was closely cropped omitting a third man in the photograph, Air Force Colonel Jack T. Bradley (Cook, 1971).


Perhaps most troubling to the reputation of photojournalists and their photographs are reports that well-known and deeply moving pictures have been stage directed by the photographers.

Three famous photographs, Robert Capa's moment of death of a Republican soldier during the Spanish Civil War, Arthur Rothstein's skull on parched South Dakota land, and Joe Rosenthal's raising of the American flag over Iwo Jima, have all been reported to be photographic manipulations. These three images have a cloud of uncertainty that surrounds each photographer's reputation.

Robert Capa's 'Moment of Death'

Published in Life magazine in 1937, Capa's photograph shows in one instant the sudden and lonely death of an anonymous soldier. The picture shocked readers with its sudden impact. Never before had the public witnessed in such graphic horror a soldier's moment of death. After an offhandedly made remark by the teasing Capa and weak evidence that the killed soldier appeared alive in subsequent images in Capa's contact sheet, rumors spread that the picture was either a result of Capa simply shooting blindly and capturing the shot by chance or stage managed for the camera (Knightley, 1976). Luck often helps experienced photographers. Bob Jackson who took the Oswald murder picture and Eddie Adams who captured the Viet Cong soldier's assassination were startled by the sound of a gunshot and pressed their shutter buttons. Photographic reflexes, a result of years of experience, plus a little luck can produce extraordinary photographs.

Robert Capa was never the kind of photographer who needed to set up his subjects. Capa, who's motto was, "If your pictures aren't good, you aren't close enough," would have been dismissed had the moment-of-death photograph been the only picture in his portfolio. However, Capa produced many war-time photographs throughout his career. Another famous picture of Capa's is the grainy and blurred image, caused by a lab assistant's high drying temperature, of a soldier crawling in the shallow waters of Normandy during the D-Day invasion. He photographed in Spain, China, Israel, and finally in Vietnam, where he was killed when he stepped on a land mine (Rothstein, 1986). Capa consistently produced images with strong emotional impact and high technical expertise. He was not a photographer who needed to fake a photograph in order to enhance his career.

Arthur Rothstein's Skulls

Arthur Rothstein (196 1), a documentary photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the American Dust Bowl era, made photographs of a steer's skull on grassy and parched land. When the different backgrounds were discovered, the skull was labeled a prop by Republican politicians who used the Rothstein pictures to attack the credibility of all the FSA photographs and particularly the Democratic administration. The Democrats, it was argued, were using the photographs to make environmental conditions look worse than they actually were in order to pass controversial legislation through Congress. Rothstein was accused of traveling around the country with his suitcase, his camera, and his skull. Although he only moved the skull 10 feet, Rothstein would be the first to admit that it was wrong of him. He regretted the controversy for the rest of his career.

Rothstein produced several memorable photographic documents including the classic Dust Bowl photograph of a father hurrying toward shelter through a dust storm with his two young sons trailing behind. He received more than 50 photography awards and wrote several books on the subject of photojournalism and documentary photography. Given such a reputation, it is difficult to imagine him packing a skull with his clothes and camera.

Joe Rosenthal's Flag

An Associated Press photographer, 33-year-old Joe Rosenthal, made three photographs atop Suribachi, a Japanese observation post on the island of Iwo Jima in 1945. His first picture became the most reproduced photograph in history and won for him a Pulitzer Prize. His second picture, although similar to the first, did not capture a dramatic moment and was forgotten by history. His third photograph became the source of accusations that the first photograph had been set up (Evans, 1978).

The first picture is the image most remembered. It shows six soldiers erecting a large, American flag on a long diagonally slanted flagpole. The soldiers seem to be straining, as they had strained to capture the mountain from the Japanese, to fly the banner of the United States. This large flag, however, was not the first American flag to fly over Suribachi. Staff Sgt. Louis Lowery, a Marine photographer, who beat Rosenthal to the top by several hours, recorded the first flag-raising ceremony that used a small flag (Colton, 1989).

On his way up to the top, Rosenthal saw a Marine carrying a much larger flag. The raising of that larger flag was recorded on film by a motion picture cameraman and by Rosenthal with his Speed Graphic press camera. After the raising of the flag, Rosenthal made a group picture of 18 soldiers smiling and waving for the camera. Although the flag-raising ceremony was re-enacted, it was the Marines who were responsible for the decision-not Rosenthal.

The confusion over the authenticity of the famous photograph resulted from Rosenthal's casual response to a correspondent 9 days later in Guam. Congratulations poured in from newspapers across America about the picture. A writer happened to ask if the picture was posed. Thinking that he meant the third photograph, Rosenthal admitted that it had been set up.

Speaking later of the famous picture, he rightly argued that "had I posed the shot, I would, of course, have ruined it. I would . . . have made them turn their heads so that they could be identified for AP members throughout the country" ("Flag raising," 1980, p. 13). Nevertheless, when the picture was first offered to the editors of Life magazine, it was rejected because it looked too perfect. As one writer noted, "Life was all for making movie stars look glamorous and frequently staged photos, but this was hard news, and they wanted to be careful." After the photograph was used throughout the world as a symbol of America's victories, the picture was printed in Life. Incidentally, Mt. Suribachi was soon recaptured by the Japanese. Many of the Marines who were photographed by Rosenthal were numbered as casualties (Elson, 1968, p. 56).

Writing of the Rosenthal icon, picture editor Harold Evans (1978), in his book Pictures on a Page, noted that "no genius could have posed the picture if he had spent a year in a studio with lights and a wind machine" (p. 145). Lucky for photojournalism, Rosenthal did not carry a wind machine to the top of Iwo Jima.


In the present era of ethical awareness, some photographers have learned the hard way that giving stage-managed, manipulated prints or misrepresented subjects to editors without explanations is ethically wrong. Professor Jim Gordon (1981) of Bowling Green State University, Ohio and editor of News Photographer magazine detailed the firing of Norman Zeisloft.

Norman Zeisloft's Feet

A 17-year veteran of the St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent, Zeisloft was assigned to cover a baseball tournament. As baseball games often go, sports action was hard to find. He spotted three fans in the stands and said that it would be 11 cute if you had 'Yea, Eckerd' written on the bottom of your feet." One young man agreed and Zeisloft started to write. A photographer for a competing newspaper took a picture of him writing on the bottom of the fan's foot and later put it up on his photography lab's bulletin board as a joke.

Zeisloft's pen would not write on the man's dirty sole so he returned to shooting the game. In the meantime, the man in the stands washed his feet, wrote the message on his foot and called Zeisloft over. He took the picture. Zeisloft gave the image to his editor without a word about the stage-managed situation. Two days later it was printed in the Evening Independent.

Someone sent the picture of Zeisloft writing on the bottom of the fan's foot to Norman Isaacs, who served as chairman of the Pulitzer jury for commentary and was chairman of the National News Council in New York. Isaacs sent the picture to Gene Patterson who was Isaacs' close friend and president and editor of the St. Petersburg newspapers. Patterson was also chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Board who had recently voted against awarding the Pulitzer to Washington Post reporter, Janet Cooke. (Cooke had admitted that a story she wrote of a little boy surrounded by drug dealers was actually fiction. Her scandal was an embarrassment for the Washington Post and the Pulitzer Prize Board.) Zeisloft was fired.

At his administrative appeal, he explained, "we set up pictures for society and club news, recipe contest winners, ribbon-cutting and ground-breaking ceremonies, award shots and enterprise features." Zeisloft, at 61 years old, may have been influenced by the stage managing techniques that photographers had used several years earlier because of their bulky cameras. Even Gene Smith, Life magazine's premier picture story producer, has admitted, "If I really felt that it was absolutely essential to the truth of the story, I would not hesitate to pose the subjects" (Kobre, 1980, p. 302). Another famous Life magazine photographer, Margaret Bourke White, regularly posed her documentary subjects in order to get better compositions and emotional impact in her photographs. Posing is close to the ethical line. Writing on a foot to create a more interesting picture is over the edge.

Executive editor, Robert Haiman made the decision to fire Zeisloft. His explanation should be tacked to the bulletin board of every newsroom in the country. "It seems to me," Haiman said,

the worst thing from the standpoint of the photographic community is for editors to have that condescending attitude, well, you know, he's only a photographer. I'm told that there are still some editors in this country who regard photographers as second-class citizens in the newsroom. . . . I don't happen to buy that. I believe that a photographer is every bit as much a first-class citizen in this journalistic community as any reporter. And there is one thing about the journalistic community which is more important in it than in any other community. And that is the obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There is simply no room for people who don't tell the truth. (p. 34)
Zeisloft's defense of his picture are the words of a past generation of press photographers. "It was just a whimsical thing, just for a little joke," he said. "It was just a little picture to make people smile rather than an old accident scene" (p. 32). Norman Zeisloft's sin was not realizing that the ethics of stage-managed pictures had changed.

Other Subject and Picture Manipulations

Other photographers have lost or been suspended from their jobs when editors were not told of a print or subject manipulation. Eric Demme, a freelance photographer for United Press International (UPI), was fired for a double printing manipulation. A picture of a jet airplane in one photograph was combined with a chicken wing restaurant's sign. The sign read, "Air traffic controllers dont [sic] affect our wings" and referred to the national air traffic controller strike of 198 1. When the composite was discovered, UPI ordered a "mandatory kill" on the picture. All editors were instructed to destroy the picture. Demme explained that because staffers helped him produce the image, he expected "a slap on the hand." "It [the photograph] doesn't involve people," said Demme. "Why not?"

A panda bear "in his last remaining natural habitat" was found to have been photographed in a 2-acre pen at a research center in China's Wuyipeng province. Contract photographer for Geo magazine, Timm Rautert, was fired. Geo managing editor, David Maxey said that the experience "will make us more vigilant in the future. Embarrassing though this message is, there's no substitute in journalism for candor" (Gordon, 1981, pp. 35-36).

The Sunday newspaper magazine, Parade, illustrated a cover story on teenage prostitution with three pictures purported to be actual scenes of women soliciting themselves for money. Under the headline, "Kids For Sale," one of the pictures from New York City was taken by Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, Eddie Adams. Professionals became concerned when it was discovered later that Adams' 11 prostitute" was actually a paid model. A disclaimer, identifying the woman in the picture as a model, had been "dropped." Adams admitted that stories concerning children require the use of models because of problems with obtaining parental permission. Magazines set up cover pictures, Adams explained, "to draw attention to the story, to illustrate a point. Newspapers have even more instances with it with set-up feature pictures" (Brill, 1986, pp. 4-8). Nevertheless, if models are used to illustrate a news editorial picture, the readers should be told.

Eddie Motes of the Anniston, Alabama Star was looking for a weather feature picture after a rainstorm produced flooded conditions. He asked Angie Shockley, a community center employee, to walk with an umbrella through ankle-deep water so that he could make pictures of her. Shockley suddenly disappeared as she stepped into a ditch hidden by the flood waters. Paul Kennedy had been watching the photography session and immediately jumped into the culvert to save Shockley. A group of basketball players and the Anniston Rescue Squad were needed to rescue Kennedy who had become trapped against the culvert. Meanwhile, Shockley had been sucked through the 50-foot drain and was unhurt on the other side. Kennedy was treated and released at a local hospital. In one assignment, Motes had created human interest feature and spot news pictures.

Motes reported that his editor did not hold him responsible for the accident. But in letters to News Photographer magazine, photojournalists around the country let Motes know what they thought of him setting up a situation that almost turned into tragedy. Typical of the responses was Jason Grow's letter. "Motes' situation clearly illustrates the danger of explicitly, or implicitly, encouraging someone to perform for the sake of the camera. Eddie Motes was damn lucky that neither Shockley nor Paul Kennedy were killed. Maybe through this near-tragedy we all may re-evaluate what it is we are doing when we put our cameras to our eyes" (Grow, 1989, p. 55).

Pulitzer Prize photographer for the Detroit Free Press, Manny Crisostomo was suspended for 3 days after it was learned he "bought a Sony Walkman and a sausage from a crack addict referred to as Tim in a story. . . ." Crisostomo "feared the addict might become violent if he wasn't given any money" (AP News Wire, 1989). For Life magazine in 1965, Bill Eppridge photographed a young couple addicted to heroin. Eppridge admitted that the couple asked for money, but he explained "that if we paid them, the story could no longer be valid . . ." (Edom, 1980, p. 98). Crisostomo and a reporter gave money and then drove the addicts to where they could buy more crack. The large, lead picture in the layout of the addicts smoking crack was taken inside the reporter's car. In an article in News Photographer magazine, Crisostomo (1989) admitted that "Integrity is everything. Reputations are hard to come by, but easy to lose. When confronted with a serious ethical question, I can't go it alone. My editors have to know what's going on. And if it comes down to a choice between compromising my ethics or dropping the story, I'll drop the story" (pp. 22-24). Credibility is severely damaged when reporters set up a situation or provide money and transportation for subjects to purchase illegal drugs.

When the Tokyo newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, sent a photographer to document the environmental problems with a coral reef, he carved his initials in the reef for the picture when he could not find enough damage. The newspaper received 6,000 phone calls and 2,000 letters in I month when the alteration was learned by the public. The photographer was fired. But the Japanese did not stop with the photographer's punishment. As William Strothers (1989) wrote, "Another photographer involved was suspended, the salaries of the executive editor and three other editors were cut, and the managing editor and photo editor were demoted. Finally, the president of the newspaper resigned" (p. 25). The Japanese really know how to get the message across.

Color as a Culprit?

The spread of color photography for magazines and newspapers has been blamed for the trend toward the increased use of set ups and illustration assignments. John Coffeen of the Tampa Tribune, noted that because of the lighting techniques necessary to take good color pictures, many photographers have returned to the posed shooting style, popular in the 1950s while on location and in the studio (Fitzgerald, 1988, p. 16).

When newspapers bought new color presses, studio shots increased "because it was a chance to show off what we could do with the new presses," according to Coffeen. When color photography is well printed it attracts more readers and advertisers to the newspaper. Editors felt that color slide materials would be best for color reproduction on the presses. Slide exposures have to be right on the mark and that sometimes requires the use of fill-in flash and set up techniques. Many newspapers have purchased computer-controlled picture scanners that make color separations. Consequently, photography staffs have been able to change to more forgiving negative color films that can be used under adverse technical conditions. Editors have also steered away from meaningless sunset and sailboat pictures and use photojournalism photographs that happen to be in color. Nevertheless, USA Today, with its pages filled with colorful, tiny head and shoulder portraits, has been a model for many newspapers around the country (Lester, 1988). Photographers continue to get assignments for food, fashion, and editorial illustrations where they use highly manipulative techniques common to advertising photographers and then are expected to be straight documentary photojournalists when they cover any other assignment.

Concern runs high among professionals about the increased use of the illustration assignment. The judges for the Pictures of the Year (POY)/47 competition, sponsored by NPPA and the University of Missouri, have eliminated the editorial illustration category from the competition. The contest instructions state, "Given the growing popularity of set-up and contrived pictures and the threat to photographic credibility posed by computer manipulation of images POY will, in the future, focus entirely on documentary work" ("Contest instructions," 1989). The POY judges will also prefer photo reportage over photo illustration in every category.


In national surveys sent to photographers, editors, and educators, as if guided by a single voice, all exclaim the same concern: The most serious threat to the integrity and credibility of photojournalism images is computer manipulation (Brink, 1988).

Why is there such a concern for a technique that is simply a technological step up from photo retouching by hand? To simulate color in early daguerreotypes and tintypes, photo retouchers, with brushes and inks added rouge to cheeks and cyan to dresses. Before the halftone invention, engravers regularly "improved" a photograph's content and composition. Wedding portrait photographers regularly remove unwanted warts and wrinkles. Advertising art directors customarily combine parts of pictures, change colors, and create fantasy images to attract customers. But people are well aware, and knowingly suspend their belief, when it comes to portrait and advertising photographic images.

The concern comes when computer retouching is used for untouchable images--photojournalism photographs ("Whose picture," 1987). Imagine a newspaper that's masthead motto is, "April Fool's Day-Every Day." Like the little boy who cried wolf in the fairytale, magazine and newspaper readers would eventually turn their backs on the media out of mistrust.

Hal Buell of the Associated Press said, "I don't think your ethics can be any better or any worse using electronic methods than they are using the classical methods. Ethics is in the mind. It is not in the tools you use" (Bossen, 1985, p. 30). There are two approaches that one can take about the use of computer technology: absolute or relaxed. Either computer manipulation should never be performed for news/editorial images, or changes are allowed. Robert Gilka, former director of photography for National Geographic magazine, articulated the absolute viewpoint. Gilka said that manipulating images is "like limited nuclear war. There ain't none" (Ritchin, 1984, p. 49). Jack Com, director of photography for the Chicago Tribune said manipulations are "ethically, morally and journalistically horrible" (Reaves, 1987, p. 3 1).

Michael Evans (1989), editor of graphics and photography at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and former White House "photo opportunity" photographer for the Reagan administration, has a more relaxed opinion. Evans cited W. Eugene Smith's work as an example of "emphatically accurate photos" that are nevertheless manipulated. Evans wrote that "Through burning, dodging, bleaching, negative-sandwiching, double-printing and a veritable arsenal of other brilliant special effects, Gene Smith produced prints that dazzled a photographically unsophisticated world that literally thirsted for images" (pp. 26-28). A famous portrait of Dr. Albert Schweitzer by Smith was a composite print from two images because the main negative was technically flawed due to fogging. Even the famous photograph, "The Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange was retouched to eliminate a "ghostly thumb" in a comer of her composition (Ohm, 1980).

The first time many learned that a new age in photo retouching had dawned were the reports of cable mogul Ted Turner using computerized colorization techniques on classic, black-and-white movies. The motive was profit-it was hoped viewers would be more attracted to the color versions. The list of computer and set up abuses grows daily at an alarming rate. Most of the computer enhancements have occurred on the covers of various magazines. National Geographic (1982a, 1982b) magazine, long known for its reputation of photojournalism excellence, used a computer digitizer on two occasions. On a cover story of Egypt, the Great Pyramids of Giza in a horizontal picture by Gordon Gahen were squeezed together to fit the magazine's vertical format. Editors for a picture story on Poland used a photograph by Bruno Barby for the cover and the special supplement that combined an expression on a man's face in one frame with a complete view of his hat in another picture.

Tom Kennedy, who became the director of photography at National Geographic after the covers were manipulated, recently stated that "We no longer use that technology to manipulate elements in a photo simply to achieve a more compelling graphic effect. We regarded that afterwards as a mistake, and we wouldn't repeat that mistake today" (personal interview with Carla Hotvedt, March 22, 1990).

The photojournalism compilations in the A Day in the Life books of America, Australia, Canada, and California all had cover pictures manipulated by computer technology. The horseman, hill, and tree on the cover of A Day in the Life of America were moved closer together enlarging the moon. The photograph was originally a horizontal. The objects in the picture were moved to fit the cover's vertical format. Dandelions behind a boy and a girl on the cover of A Day in the Life of Canada were turned into green grass. An inch of water was added to the top of the cover picture to include the title, A Day in the Life of Australia. The top of a surfboard was created for the cover picture of A Day in the Life of California.

The short-lived and experimental magazine, Picture Week fused two different photographs in tabloid magazine style of Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev to portray a misleading attitude of friendliness (Reaves, 1987). A cover picture for Rolling Stone magazine was altered with the computer (O'Connor, 1986). The gun and shoulder holster were removed from "Miami Vice" actor Don Johnson because editor Jan Wenner is an ardent foe of handguns (Lasica, 1989). Popular Science magazine used the computer to combine an airplane in one picture with the background of another (Lasica, 1989). Television interviewer Oprah Winfrey's head was spliced on top of Ann-Margret's body for a TV Guide cover ("Why tamper," 1989). To illustrate Rob Lowe's troubles with videotape, Atlanta magazine used a model holding a video camera and Lowe's smiling face in a computerized cover composite (Lee, 1989). Shiela Reaves (1989) reported that a cover picture of planes flying over the Chrysler building in New York City for the Conde Nash Traveler was a composite from three separate negatives. A former art director for Better Homes and Gardens admitted that "45 of the 48 covers from 1984 to 1988 were digitally manipulated, primarily because the magazine often uses inside photos for its cover" (p. 1). For the examples just given, readers were not told that the covers had been altered with a computer.

Editors argue that the cover photograph can be altered in order to achieve maximum impact because the image is designed to attract a potential buyer just like an advertisement. Sean Callahan, former editor of American Photographer magazine feels that covers are sales tools that are used to attract browsing newsstand buyers. "There is tremendous competition in that kind of environment and so you have to do something to get [buyers'] attention," Callahan said. Co-director David Cohen of A Day in the Life of America said, "I don't know if it's right or wrong. All I know is it sells the book better" (Lasica, 1989, p. 22). Creator and photographer for the A Day in the Life series, Rick Smolan said, "We are very proud of the fact that we were able to use this technology to make the covers more dramatic and more impressive" (Reaves, 1989, pp. 26-32). In a later interview, Smolan altered his position. "At some point the audience deserves to know," Smolan said, "whether or not [the cover picture] is something you caught on the fly or something either you created in the darkroom or created by setting it up" (Rosenberg, 1989, p. 47).

What if a newspaper editor decides that the front page or a section front is a sales tool that should be used to attract more readers? Such a philosophy would send computer retouchers; scrambling to make front-page news photographs as visually dramatic as possible. Arizona Republic's art director, Howard Finberg sees the danger of eager editors who might "clean up photographs as they might clean up grammar in a quote." "I know who runs the newspaper and it's not the photographers," Finberg asserted. "It's the editor who has no visual literacy at all" who makes the retouching decisions (Rosenberg, 1989, p. 54).

Such editorial decisions have crept into the news photography divisions of newspapers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch used a computer to remove a can of Diet Coke from a picture taken of a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer. The Hartford Courant (CT) used a computer to show readers what the downtown skyline would look like with a new skyscraper. The Asbury Park Press (NJ) ran an illustration that confused readers. For a health and fitness story, computer artists combined a picture of a cow eating hay with a studio set up of a salad. The Orange County Register (CA) changed a smog-filled sky into cloudless blue for an outdoor Olympics photograph and still won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for its coverage. Backshop personnel for the Register also mistakenly changed the color in a news picture. When vandals dyed a swimming pool red, the production staff, unaware of the news story, thought the water should be blue and used the computer accordingly (Lasica, 1989).

Publishers spend millions on computer retouching systems that may pressure art directors to show some results. However, most newspaper editorial departments have adopted policies for the use of the computer. Since the Coke can incident, the motto at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is "If you don't do it in the darkroom, don't do it in the system." But despite the best of intentions, abuses still occur. Chicago Tribune associate design director, Judie Anderson, says, "We do not do anything to alter a photograph unless it's absolutely necessary." Nevertheless, she admits, "If there are blemishes on somebody's skin that do detract, then we may do something" (Chaney, 1989, p. 17). Hopefully, Anderson will not put Oprah Winfrey's head on that person's body.

In 1981, Sony was the first company to introduce a film-less camera, the Mavica. Because the image quality was low, most experts viewed the camera as an expensive toy (see Morse, 1987). Since 1981 however, improvements have been made. The ProMavica camera with a 2-inch, reusable floppy disk can record 25 frames of still video images and time-compressed FM audio sounds at a higher degree of quality. Nikon, Canon, and Kodak also have still video cameras with transmission and computer-recording devices that can send images via telephone lines to a photo editor's computer terminal. Scitex, Crosfield, and Hell are leading manufacturers of digital retouching and pre-press electronic scanning devices used by newspaper and magazine art directors.

Reproduction quality and price are barriers to widespread acceptance of the new technology. A computerized image is composed of tiny dots, called pixels or picture elements. A high quality video image typically contains approximately 380,000 pixels. Kodak has manufactured a floppy disk that can record 1.4 million pixels. With high definition television (HDTV) systems, the pixel count can be raised to 2.2 million. But computer technology is far behind traditional film resolution standards. Typically, a medium resolution film product contains over 18 million pixels. The computer storage capability necessary for saving pictures increases enormously in direct proportion to the resolution.

Optical disk technology has the capability to record high resolution video images at the fraction of the cost of traditional floppy disk recording devices. There is little doubt that by the new century, photographers and editors will commonly use still video cameras and computer terminals to record, manipulate, and save images.

There is an increasing trend in using television images for newspaper reproduction. When only television cameras have recorded an important news event, Polaroid and other print technologies can capture a video image with a "Frame Grabber" for use in a publication. Newspaper publishers may sign licensing agreements with cable operators to use still images captured with this technology. Although the quality of the reproduced picture is not as high as with traditional film products, the images are certainly good enough to print. Why send photographers to an important news or sporting event when an editor can "grab" pictures off a television screen?

On October 6, 1989, the NPPA published the first issue of The Electronic Times, an all-electronic newspaper. Digital and video cameras recorded images that were manipulated using computer scanner and pagination systems. The Associated Press recently announced its plan to supply member newspapers with picture receiving and editing computer stations. Students at the Rochester Institute of Technology produce a totally electronic publication, E. s. p. r. i. t. Electronic cameras, video, film and print scanners, and electronic darkroom software are available for students in the electronic still photography program run by Associate Professor, Douglas Ford Rea. Darkrooms will soon turn into lightrooms as photographers move out into the newsrooms ("AP darkroom," 1990).


Television news organizations, on the 50th year since the introduction of the medium at the New York's World Fair, are not immune to simulation criticism. NBC's "Unsolved Mysteries" and "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow"; CBS' "Saturday Evening with Connie Chung"; and Fox Broadcasting's "America's Most Wanted" and "A Current Affair" are programs that have all mixed real news with re-enactments of events. The loudest opposition to news simulations came when ABC's "World News Tonight" aired a re-enacted segment depicting Felix Bloch, the U.S. diplomat under investigation for spying, handing a briefcase filled with secrets to an enemy agent. Sam Donaldson, a senior correspondent for ABC, told the Associated Press that viewers could be easily mislead by the film to believe "that they had actually seen the event. [But] they didn't. They didn't see that at all." Peter Jennings apologized for the failure of ABC to properly and promptly label the film as a simulation with, "We're sorry if anyone was mislead and we'll try to see that it doesn't happen again" (Strothers, 1989, p. 25).

Because of the criticism, some changes have been announced by news executives. Roone Arledge, president of ABC News said that since the Bloch simulation, anything done out of the ordinary must receive the approval of the president or his assistant. However, ABC's "20/20" later used a re-enacted scene that was screened by executives, of a private detective rummaging through a garbage can looking for evidence. Arledge defended the film with, "It didn't confuse anyone. Everyone knew we weren't actually there when he was first going through the garbage." Arledge then admitted, "I don't know if I would have it done that way, though" (Goldman, 1989, p. A-4). NBC announced that it would "stop its use of controversial news re-creations and shift the only one of its programs that uses the technique from the news to the entertainment division" ("NBC puts," 1989, p. A-4).

Subject manipulations are an unfortunate necessity for television videographers. Photojournalists and reporters are faced with demanding deadlines often exasperated by the trend toward live newscasts by local stations. Professional video cameras need a tripod for static pictures. Additional lighting is often required for high quality illumination. Vans that contain a satellite link with the newsroom sometimes need a specially trained technician to operate the elaborate broadcasting system. Most on-the-air broadcasts show interviews between reporters and a subject. Consequently, technical and subject constraints combine to produce a televised report that is at best, not spontaneous and at worse, rehearsed. Videographers can compare themselves to the press photographers of the 1940s and 1950s who also produced set up images due to their technological constraints. With the advent of small, handheld, high quality video cameras, television reports may become more candid as happened with newspaper and magazine photography with the introduction of handheld still cameras.


In an article for American Photographer, Dr. Willi Heimsohm, (1982) described a scenario in which editors played with history with their computer. Heimsohm detailed a faked assassination, made possible through computer technology, of Colonel Muammar Kaddafi of Libya for a fictitious publication. The hypothetical situation, although far-fetched, can be considered the ultimate fear of professionals. The re-creation is reminiscent of a quote from George Orwell's (1949), 1984: "There were the huge printing shops with their sub-editors, their typography experts, and their elaborately equipped studios for the faking of photographs" (p. 43).

Photographs, particularly those used as accurate and trustworthy accounts of a significant event by respected publications, are our best hedge against the threat of devious editors and special interest groups who want to change truth and history. If the manipulation of photographs is accepted for any image, the public will naturally doubt all photographs and text within the publication.

At the very least, readers should be informed that an editorial image has been altered. For example, Jim Dooley, photo editor/chief for Newsday, was careful to let the readers know that a fashion feature picture was a "photo-illustration with a caption that said a model with clothes" (Fitzgerald, 1988, p. 34). Such a disclaimer does not always help a reader understand a complicated computer procedure. Nancy Tobin, the design director for the Asbury Park Press, explained that the cow and salad illustration was labeled, "composite photo illustration, but some people were left scratching their heads" (Lasica, 1989, p. 24). With the price of digitizing equipment getting so low that editors for corporation newsletters can afford to manipulate images, the temptation to combine pictures without readers being notified will be great.

Because of the new technologies, photographers may have limited input over the use of their pictures. The digital transmission of images, recently demonstrated during the Olympic games and national political conventions, allows a photographer to instantly send a digitized color negative directly to the computer terminal of the photography editor across a city or across the world via telephone transmission. Although telephone transmission of photographic images has been a common practice for many years, the photographer has always been able to print the picture the way he or she thought it should look. The photo editor was only able to crop the picture to fit into the space on the newspaper's page. When the picture is sent to a computer, the photo editor can crop, but also dodge, bum, correct the color, eliminate distracting elements, flop, and combine images from separate photographs. Editors are even capable of sharpening blur-red or out-of-focus pictures (Hesterman, 1988).

When computer-digitized transmissions become common, staff photographers may have as much say over picture selection and use as freelance photographers or television videographers who frequently transmit live images via satellites without an opportunity to edit their work. Such a trend would conflict with Houston Post staff photographer Craig Hartley (1983), who wrote that the "photojournalist must be responsible for his or her actions in the field and at the publication" (p. 304). It would be difficult for a photographer to discuss a controversial image with an editor over the telephone.

Beverly Bethune (1983), in a national survey of photographers, reported that newspaper photojournalists listed "input into photo use, layout, etc." as a major factor that defined job satisfaction. "Photographers," wrote Bethune, "who said they have a strong voice in making photo decisions that affected their work as it appeared in their papers were generally more satisfied overall than photographers with voices less strong. They are happier, then, when they have a say in how their work is used" (pp. 27-28). Computer transmission technology could take away that job satisfaction requirement.

Freelance photographers have been the first group affected by computer technology. A picture agency, The Image Bank, offers their best-selling transparencies on videodisc to their clients throughout the world. Jim Mostyn, president of The Image Bank/Chicago, predicted that "within the next 10 years, all photography will be viewed and transmitted electronically." As detailed in Photomethods, "special software offers image masking capabilities which enable clients to combine elements from many different photographs to form one image" (Thall, 1988). A photographer's style, established over a lifetime of experience, will be lost once pictures are fabricated on a computer. Furthermore, if for example, 30% of one picture and 70% of a picture from another photographer are used to make a third image, how is payment divided between the two shooters? Does the art director/computer operator get a percentage? How are copyrights for the created image assigned?

As much as it is possible, photographers should be consulted if a news picture is controversial. When discussion is not possible, written guidelines for such use, strictly adhered to by the editor, would be appropriate.

After all is said and done, the photojournalist is still left with the question, should all forms of subject and picture manipulations be banned, or are exceptions acceptable? For many writers, the choice is simple. J. D. Lasica (1989) features editor and columnist for the Sacramento Bee wrote in an article titled, "Photographs that Lie," that "the 1980s may be the last decade in which photos could be considered evidence of anything." Director of photography for the Sacramento Bee, George Wedding, also warned, "The photograph as we know it, as a record of fact, may no longer in fact be that in three or five years" (Lasica, 1989, p. 22). Brian Steffans, a graphics photography editor at the Los Angeles Times pointed out, "You've got to rely on people's ethics. That's not much different from relying on the reporter's words. You don't cheat just because the technology is available" (p. 25). In a column titled, "Troubles with re-creating news," William Strothers (1989) wrote that "There is no substitute for truth. Viewers and readers expect that when we give them the news we are telling the truth as best as we can determine it. We may not always get it right, but we try. We can't make up for lack of truth by re-enacting the event the way we think it ought to be" (p. 25). Finally, John Long (1989), of the Hartford Courant and former president of the NPPA, wrote:

Each day when you step out onto the street, remember that you have been granted a sacred trust to be truthful. You have the responsibility to produce only honest images. You have no right to set up pictures; you have no right to stage the news; you have no right to distort the facts. Your fellow citizens trust you. If you destroy the credibility of your work, even in small ways, it destroys the credibility of your newspaper or TV station in the eyes of the people you are covering. (pp. 13-14)
As demonstrated by the many examples in this chapter, photographic truth is an elusive, often subjective, concept. Generally speaking, whenever the Hedonistic philosophy is put into play, the truthfulness of an image suffers. Personal presumptions about how a subject's story should be told, concerns for clean, photographic compositions, deadline pressure panic, unreasonable demands from an editor, layout efficiency, a cover picture's eye-catching ability, and political, religious or personal beliefs can all demean the credibility of the photograph, the photographer, and the publication. Let a truth based on sound, journalism principles be your guiding philosophy. When an objective truth is put first, photographs and the stories behind them can be easily defended and are a source for humanistic concern and inspiration.