Photo Manipulation Critique

My first thought is that there is definitely a photo-tampering problem in the media. I have noticed that everywhere I go I am bombarded with edited images. I can see this on billboards, magazine covers, posters, and website advertisements, just to name a few of the infinite sources. I believe that photo tampering is especially dangerous because it can depict unrealistic pictures of people. By editing a photo one can make a woman miraculously lose ten pounds and have a smoother complexion. For example, many of the examples of photo tampering in the article “Photo Tampering Throughout History” depicted changes in photos that were made to make people appear more attractive. I believe this is extremely unhealthy for our culture because people, girls and women especially, try so hard to look like the models and celebrities on the magazine covers. But they are trying for nothing. If women saw what those cover girls look like before editing, then they might not try as hard to attain those unrealistic features.

I believe it is also horrible when magazines or newspapers alter photos to their advantage. Many examples of this can be found in the “Photo Tampering Throughout History” article, but one in particular caught my attention. There was a photo of the pyramids in Egypt that was used by National Geographic. In order to make the photo look appealing with the layout of the front cover the magazine altered the pyramids, making them appear taller. I do not believe that this is ethically correct. People read these types of magazines in the hopes of seeing the world as it really is. Photo manipulation creates a whole new world that is not our own, perhaps a world as we wish it were since we can alter and change things as we please. But just because we want pyramids to look right on a cover does not warrant a reason to edit the photo.

Also, it is especially dangerous when photos are manipulated for political uses, like in newspapers. Photographs are supposed to supply readers with a greater understanding of events that are taking place, but if the photos are edited the reader is not being supplied with the correct information. I believe that the media needs to become much more strict on their photo manipulation policies. From what I have read, however, it seems like more rules have been put into place, especially in trusted magazines and newspapers. I read an interesting article by Bonnie Meltzer called “Digital Photography: A question of Ethics” that provided a thought-provoking idea about how to detect manipulated photos. She suggested that all manipulated photos have a certain mark or sign on them so that people would be able to see that it was manipulated. I like this because at least if photos are going to be edited there would still be a way to know if it was edited or not, because like Meltzer discusses in her article it is becoming more and more difficult to even detect whether a photo has been tampered with or not. This is mostly due to the technological advances of today.

Overall, I believe that tampering with photos is a bad idea. I understand that it is sometimes necessary to mess with the lighting or contrast of a photo, but compiling a photo with two or three different images is a whole other matter. I believe it is important to know which photos are manipulated and edited, like Meltzer suggests, that way more credit can be given to the photos that have not been edited. If photos continue to be over edited and hardly realistic they are going to become less credible.  This is something I don’t want to happen, because photos are a vital source of news and information. We just have to make sure photos remain credible and reliable.


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