Camera Never Lies Course: Week 1

Below is what I took away from the video lectures of the first week of my Camera Never Lies course*. There were lots of examples of altered images, some of them I was familiar with, others not. Majority of them were taken from the fourfoursix website, which is a great resource for the topic of the course. I appreciated that the professor prepared an accompanying document, that not just set the aims, objectives and learning outcomes for the course, but also included lots of links for all the images and topics mentioned in the lectures.

Most of the  Guernica talk was about the historical context of the event and how it fit into the narrative of the two world wars. I was quite familiar with that already, so I found that section, the longest lecture of the first week, a bit boring.

I boldfaced the points I found the most interesting. All the text is taken straight from the transcription of the lectures.

Use of Images

  • We can gain a great deal, from seeing what was represented to a culture or society and how that in itself reflected on their opinions.
  • The painted portrait. Very staged…allow in an individual to make a statement…historian  interrogate that for those meaningsTiananmen Square , and to help shed some light on their status and their perspective in society.
  • about the use of photographs as historical record, is what happens the millisecond before?
  • If there are so many millions of photographs taken why have non ever shown a UFO?
  • we can also make judgments about the nature of events by the way that they are memorialized
  • Jean de la Croix – it’s painted nearly 40 years after the event and very clearly embodies the idea that everyone is involved in the revolution including this stylized view of truth and justice.
  • Tiananmen Square –  this an image of oppression, this is an image of courage and this is an image of determination, hope.


  • GuernicaThe 1997 Oxford Dictionary of the 20th century had part of the Guernica picture on its front cover.>
  • The first time that we have, intensive bombing of a purely civilian target, which was not defended.
  • It had a small ammunition’s factory
  • transition is the willingness of societies to accept the mass slaughter of civilians
  • [During WWI w]e do have bombing of London, via Zeppelins. In fact it was such a curious and unusual occurrence that various members of the London population came out and pointed upwards to the German airships raining bombs, somewhat inefficiently, down on them.
  • The reporting of what happened in Guernica was important to it’s significance overall.
  • George Steer, who is a correspondent for the, the Times of London wrote back and wrote back emotively about the aftermath. Franco’s forces actually denied that bombing had taken place.
  • [Picasso] already been commissioned to provide something for a Spanish exhibition within Paris but was profoundly effected by the reportage that he received.
  • A certain currency is given to black and white.  We’re more trusting of black and white photographs. For no really good reason, we think of them in terms of being authentic. They are reportage. Color is almost a diversion. 
  • It displays death in a way that’s not intended to be realistic in terms of reportage. [It gives] a sense of turmoil and anguish and bewilderment that stems from the event


  • Every personal computer now, has some elementary program built into it that will allow you to alter images, to one degree or another.
  • It wasn’t so long ago that National Geographic required photographers to guarantee they hadn’t used a filter on their camera before accepting photographs.
  • Most images are now captured digitally. We don’t have the artifact to the same degree that we had with the film negative
  • There are too many steps in which images can be altered or manipulated.
    What is authentic? What is the image?

The Image in Advertising

  • When it come to advertising there’s also what is acceptable, what’s not acceptable as times change. 
  • Airbrushing out the cigarette held by Paul McCartney [on the cover of Abbey Road] as they cross the zebra crossing. You get an idea of how the concerns of society have changed.
  • In  2007 Time magazine ran an article, How The Right Went Wrong. It displays fairly clearly Ronald Reagan but, digitally added was a tear across his right cheek.
  • In 2003 GQ magazine had Kate Winslet on their cover.  Kate Winslet one of the finest actresses of her generation was digitally altered to narrow her hips.

The Image in Politics

  • In April 2009, the Israeli newspaper Yated Ne’eman, took out of a collective photograph of the Israeli cabinet, the two women member’s portrait.
  • In 2010 the State Run Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, had digitally altered an image which showed President Mubarak walking with Israeli leaders, those from the US, the  Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon — mother of Queen Elizabeth II — and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie KingPalestine and, and Jordan. [They moved] Mubarak so that he was at the head of Posse, rather walking behind them.
  • 1939. Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, standing next to the queen mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The king, George VI, had been removed from the image.  It was an image which was used for publicity of Mackenzie King’s re-election campaign. And it was felt that his stature, both physically and figuratively, was going to be enhanced by standing next to the Queen, rather than the Queen and her husband.


  • 2003, we have a photograph from Basra. It’s a composite photograph. It may have improved the composition. But did nothing for his professional career.
  • 2011…football match in Spain. By removing the player, it appeared that, no offside had taken place. …someone thought it was important to play to their particular audience at the time.
  • 2006..Israeli air attack on Lebanon. Black smoke had been added.

*This blog entry is part of my series on the “The Camera Never Lies Course” course I am taking.

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