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Introduction: This lecture addresses the question Documentary does truth matter?

? It will give you different points to consider when you approach this question. SECTION ONE Historically photography was seen as a document of truth, weve all the heard the saying the camera never lies. One of the earliest records of this phrase being used was in 1895, at this time it was believed that the photograph was a window on the world. Kodak produced adverts that reflected the belief that a photograph recorded the truth, here in this advert we can see they use the phrase Prove it with a kodak. In society today the concept that the photograph is proof is still a view that is considered even though almost everyone is aware these days of the ability to manipulate a photograph. Exampled here in the online forum phrase pics or it didnt happen explained here by the urban dictionary, it is a challenge to an outlandish or unbelievable claim. And has been adopted as an iconic phrase to make a point. Here a satirical comment on religion made by an atheist or perhaps paradoxically a comment made by a Christian on the irony of the phrase in todays society. SECTION TWO The photograph was believable, it recorded the world within its frame and people assumed it told the truth. Before photography painting, drawings, engravings were the mediums employed to record an event, depict a person or a place; these were the only means of telling a story. Ansel Adams said Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs and this was true in the early 19th century when a photograph was deemed an indisputable fact. The first recorded use of a photograph in court was in 1839 when a French newspaper carried a story of a man using a photograph of his wife during a tryst to win a divorce case. Jacob Riis used photography to document the living conditions of the poor in the New York slums during the 1880s. He took photographs for the purpose of social reform for immigrants living in New York At the same time Lewis Hine was photographing his working class subjects as dignified and proud. His focus was on reforming child labour, he believed that his photographs had the power to create change but even in these early days of documentary photography there were questions regarding the truth which Lewis Hine was aware with and so authenticated his photographs with witnesses and dates .

Susan Sontag said

And . Over time the once near absolute confidence in photography has unravelled. Eddie Adam who won a Pulitzer prize for this photograph which has become an iconic image of the Vietnam war, he said of photographyStill photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. 1968 He said of the Pulitzer Prize photograph . ,The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. ... What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?'[

On March 6th 1957 Richard Avedon took this photograph of Marilyn Monroe, When describing the shoot he said for hours she danced and sang and flirted and did this thing thats she did Marilyn Monroe, then there was the inevitable drop, she sat in the corner like a child with everything gone It was at this point that he clicked the shutter. Photographer Vik Muniz described the photo as A picture of Norma Jean, not Marilyn. Avedon said this of portraiture A portrait is not a likeness, the moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion'. The opinion in this statement is not only that of the photographer but also that of the viewer who looks at the photograph. He also said .. Mia Fineman in her book Faking It talks about the time before technology enabled photographs to be printed alongside text in a newspaper. Journalists would use a camera to take a photograph of an event but then it would be up to an illustrator to create an engraving depicting the photograph. The illustrators would often embellish what they could see in the photograph with their own version of the event. Here is an example she gives. A photograph by Mathew Brady of the American Civil war Hero John Burns sitting with his wife outside his house. Mathew Brady intended to capture the home coming of the hero but was late for the celebrations. Here in the illustration the engraver has added the celebrations to enliven the event.

Here a photograph with an illustration of how a car crash occurred, more accurately captures the turn of events than would be possible with a single exposure from the camera. John Szarkowsky in his book the photographers eye is an investigation of what photographs look like and of why they look that way. It is concerned with photographic style and photographic tradition: With the sense of possibilities that a photographer today takes to his work In this book he states that a photographer was tied to the facts of things and he had to force the facts to tell the truth he talks about framing, what is included and what is eliminated. And also the angle of view. These all being choices that the photographer makes in telling his story. Here the choice of camera lens the position of the camera, the position of the man in relation to the spider all together give the impression that the spider is as big as the mans face, which it is not, it is just a visual trick. In telling the story the photographer has the advantage and limitations of their equipment. For example when Roger Fenton was photographing the Crimean War in 1855 He had the limitations of a cumbersome large format camera whose exposure of wet collodian plates was between 10-15 seconds, therefore his subjects had to be posed and remain still. As a war photographer Fenton took these photos to document war, however the limitations of the technology meant that those who viewed the photos to learn a truth about war would have not been able to envision the images that the later more advanced cameras such as the 35mm leica camera could capture. Eugene Smith took this photograph in 1954 in Iwo Jima with a 35mm leica camera, light weight and fast shutter speeds all evident in this photograph that through technology was able to show a very different view of war than Roger Fenton. In recent years, notably 2003 in Afghanistan war photographers were been embedded in military units for their own protection, however as part of the embedding the photographer had to sign a contracts that restricted what the could report. Here in this instance it is no longer the equipment that limits the photographers ability to document their version of the truth but the military contracts. This effect also comes into play when a photographer is commissioned to undertake a documentary project where the commissioner has ideas of their own.

Manipulation of the image through cutting and pasting was evident prior to digital photography.

Here are some examples Picture editors used scissors, ink and airbrushes to remove party officials who had fallen out of favour with Stalin. This original photograph was re-worked three times over a period of 23 years. In the photograph by the river the man on the far right was airbrushed out when he was executed for knowing too much and was thereby erased from public record. Joseph Goebbels was removed from this informal photograph at film maker Leni Riefenstahls home with Adolph Hitler possibly to combat rumours that he was having an affair with Riefenstahl. Cutting and pasting was not the only way that a supposed fact was distorted. Edward Curtis photographed the North American Indian in the 1900s. Curtis was employed as an ethnographic photographer to record a disappearing culture at a time when native north American indians were already integrating into modern society. Curtis was closer to being a pictorialist than an ethnographer because he posed his subjects, gave them props and set up traditional rituals often at an opposing time of year that they would normally be performed. He was concentrated on aestheticizing a culture that no longer existed in the image that he was creating. This photo titled falling soldier by Robert Capa was taken during the Spanish Civil war. It was the photograph that made him famous and the photograph which is now known for its controversy as to whether it is real or whether Capa set it up. The controversy surrounding the photograph has overshadowed the subject and story that the image was created to tell. Capa denied the image was a set up, however still the controversy remains. Cottingley Fairys a story that most of you know Im sure is of two young cousins who in 1917 produced photographs of fairies as the bottom of their garden. When they came to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle he used them to illustrate a written piece for a magazine. He believed them to be genuine and defined them as proof of psychic phenomena, others thought they were faked. In 1980 the

cousins admitted that they had faked the photographs using cardboard cut outs but that one of the photographs was not faked. To our modern eye accustomed to how the camera and photographer operate, how a photograph looks and how it can be manipulated it is hard to believe that anyone ever believed the photos had captured real fairies on film. MIA FINEMAN DISCUSSES EARLY MANIPULATION OF THE PHOTOGRAPH. Since the advent of digital photography, manipulation of the image has become more accessible and sometimes more difficult to detect. It has also furthered blurred boundaries as to what constitutes unethical manipulation specifically in photojournalism but also in fashion and celebrity images. An early example of digital manipulation was when National Geographic used a photograph of Egypts pyramids on the front of their magazine. They had moved one of the pyramids to make what they thought was a better composition. They came under fire for this but defended themselves by stating that they saw no difference between doing this in post production or if the photographer had in the first instance when taking the photograph moved themselves and used a different lens to compose the two pyramids in a similar manner. Here is a photograph of New York firemen that Patrick Schneider took in 2003 and won an award for picture of the year from North Carolina Press photographers association. After some complaints that Schneider had manipulated the photograph beyond ethical outlines set out by the national press photographers association he was stripped of the award. The NCPPA had judged that when Schneider had darkened down the background and eliminated elements that were already out of focus due to use of a shallow depth of field he had over stepped the boundaries of manipulation. He also later lost his job as a newspaper photographer for as the editor told his readership In the original

photo, the sky in the photo was brownish-gray. Enhanced with photoediting software, the sky became a deep red and the sun took on a more distinct halo. The feeling amongst some other photojournalists

was that Schneider had become a scapegoat for the pretension that photojournalism is unbiased, objective and accurate to a public that is increasingly sceptical about the truth of an image. Schneider had altered the image to better represent what he saw through the lens, that which the camera was unable to capture adequately.

Discuss NUJ code of ethics


Type Brian Walski into google search and you dont get information about the work of a photo journalist but site after site discussing one image of his in paticular. He had been a photographer working for the Los Angeles Times in 2003 he was working in Iraq. He was present at a scene where American soldiers were directing civilians to take cover, he took a few pictures of the scene and later when he viewed them he decided to take two photographs and montage them together, this photo he submitted to the Los Angeles Times which they printed in their newspaper, it was also printed in other newspapers. When Colin Crawford, Los Angeles Times Director of photography was told that the photo was indisputably altered, he contacted Walski and said "Give me an excuse. Tell me it was a satellite transmission problem. Say something." to which Walski replied, "No, I did it. I combined the two pictures. Was it ultimately wrong what he did? He blatantly ignored the code of ethics from National Union of Journalists and national press association. Was he showing the audience what he believed to be the essence of the scene by combining two consecutive pictures? What do you think? With public skepticism and knowledge that truth within a photograph is debatable documentary photographers are finding new approaches to telling their stories and showing their version of the truth. Here Photographer Julian Germaine had made a series of images titled Soccer Wonderland He has created what is described on his website as a type of scrap book that includes found images, photographs he has taken, fan ephemera, subuteo figures sit alongside documentary photographs and old newspaper cuttings, all of which build a story of the cult following and fascination with football. The following reads from an article titled stranger than fiction should documentary photographers add fiction to reality
Cristina de Middel used to work for a Spanish newspaper as a photojournalist until early 2011, when she had had enough. I was disappointed with photojournalism. Im very passionate about everything I do and when I dont get the feedback that I expect, Im disappointed, she says. I really believed, when I started being a photojournalist, that I would help change the world by taking these images. Then when I started working for a newspaper, I realised that truth is built by advertisers, political parties and corporations at least thats the case in Spain. When I realised I was working 12 to 14 hours a day to help someone else make money, I thought Id rather work for my father. I went freelance and gave myself a year to do what I wanted to do. with The Afronauts, which tells the story of Zambias failed space programme in 1964. The fictive narrative is based on true accounts de Middel found of that programme. For me, its the most successful documentary story Ive made in my life. If you go back to the definition of photojournalism, its all about telling a story with images, and in this case Im telling a story that happened in the 1960s. There were no images available, so I had to create these images. I wasnt deliberately playing with fiction, I was using what I could use. De Middel is adamant that The Afronauts is documentary photography. If not, then what is it? Why does photography have to be either documentary or an art piece? Why do we feel the need to classify? And why is one better than the other? Its about tellin g the story with images, and the story about these Afronauts is true. In a sense, I was working as a historian rebuilding what happened and documenting it, she says

A lot of photographers find that using fiction is being dishonest, explains French photographer Samuel Bollendorff, a photojournalist and web documentary producer. But then when you find yourself in a situation where you dont have any avenues to express what you have to say the press has been decimated, for example you have to think about new narrative structures, which means you have to revolutionise the craft and look at other ways of telling your stories... But its true that when your work isnt linked to the news any longer, photographers and journalists should look for new narrative forms that go beyond a pure and simple report of that news. Then comes the question of defining what your role is as an author, [ensuring] your work remains credible. Thats the essential question: how do I become an author while keeping my credibil ity as a journalist?

The Laundry Sherpas of Brooklyn is her first fictive story a documentary project based on a narrative construct that mixes fact with fiction. Yet McDonald doesnt see her story as fiction. I prefer to use the word fictive, in the sense that it doesnt oppose itself to the facts. Tim Hetherington was not a traditional war photographer or documentary film maker. He referred to himself as an image maker. This film was shot between 2007 and 2008 whilst he worked as an embedded journalist with a platoon in Afghanistan. He took photographs of the soldiers sleeping and layered them with moving images of the platoon during active combat and downtime, trying to imagine the soldiers unconscience processing the violence they have just participated in. Tim Hetherington was not interested in the war machine but in the individuals and their relationships with one another. Tim Hetherington was killed while covering the front lines in 2011during Libyan civil war. Fred Rithin writes about the work of Damon Winter in his book Bending the Frame. New York Times photographer Damon Winter has been recognized for his use of mobile phones with hipstamatic apps to document the lives of soldiers and the conflicts around tem Many in the photojournalistic community deride this approach for trivializing or stylizing war, making the photographs less transparent whilst emphasizing the mediation itself and as a consequence acknowledging the photographers idiosyncratic authorship An opposing opinion on this comes from Magnums Christopher Anderson who says The app provides a visual language that makes sense to a new generation. And perhaps what us old guys see as real photography is just an outdated visual language that cannot communicate the reality of Syria today because it is just too exotic to a certain generation of viewers He goes on to say that most of the discussion around the use of the hipstamatic I phones apps is concerned with aestheticising war. He believes that it can be argued that the use of apps and Iphones does just the opposite. Making photographs less sophisticated in order to better communicate to an audience to whom photographers photography just doesnt translate and maybe all the purists are just the old-guard that doesnt get what these kids are up to these days. So with documentary does truth matter? Lets return to the quote by Photographer Arthur Rostein in 1942 Provided the results are a faithful reproduction of what the photographer believes he see, whatever takes place in the making of the picture is justified. The lack of credibility in the photograph should not be viewed as the end of the power of documentary photography for social change and communication to an

audience but should be embraced for the freedom that this gives the documentary photographer to develop new narratives for documentary practice. The truth should be defined by the photographer as opposed to by the photograph. Credibility should be attained by the photographer and their documentary practice should be transparent in their chosen modes and styles of communication. Take Tim Hetherington with his obvious layering of still images of sleeping soldiers with moving images of combat, look past the mechanics and style of his presentation and the message is clear; What we see is the truth as seen and represented by the photographer. The viewer has to look to the credentials of the photographer to establish the truth in the photograph.

Bibliography Fineman, M (2012) Faking it, Yale University Press Ritchin, F (2013) Bending the Frame Ritchin, F (2013) Meta-narrative: Fred Ritchin on the future of photojournalism http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-ofphotography/interview/2286634/metanarrative-fred-ritchin-on-the-future-ofphotojournalism#ixzz2jsKrXE5B Fineman, M & Ritchin, F, (2013) Photographic Truths www.youtube.com Fineman, M (2013) Truth, lies and photographs www.youtube.com Laurent, O (2013) Stranger than fiction: Should documentary photographers add fiction to reality. http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-ofphotography/feature/2285829/stranger-than-fiction-should-documentaryphotographers-add-fiction-to-reality#ixzz2jj8XqRK1I Miles D orville discusses pictorialism, journalism and truth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNqqXW3_swo&list=PL8HAkqKX065ANJaqi qcbNZBCc2Yw-Vd1f