The Power of Photographic Manipulation

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Media is everywhere. In the contemporary world, it is seen on the highway, on the sidewalk, on the internet, and on television. Due to its omnipresence, there is no escaping the looming, almost orwellian effects that this propaganda can have on humankind. It has changed the way society thinks, acts, and functions. Visual media resides in the foreground of this movement, particularly because of its false portrayal of people, places, and things. The deception of an audience, especially through the manipulation of photography, has been around since the invention of the camera, and the inherent results are both positive and negative (“Photo Alteration”).

When the photograph was invented on January 7th, 1839 by Louis J.M. Daguerre, it’s sole purpose was to represent an image as accurately as possible (Daniel, Malcolm). His process was known as the daguerreotype, and the results were remarkably detailed. From the moment of its birth, photography served two primary uses, as an artistic medium and as a valuable scientific tool. Daguerre promoted both approaches to his invention by taking still life photos for creative expression, and taking photos of a dead spider through a solar microscope for anatomical research (Daniel, Malcolm). On March 8, 1839 Daguerre’s laboratory burned to the ground. Regretfully, the majority of his work was lost, but photography lived on. Artists began to further explore the possibilities of this modern medium, and less than a decade after its societal induction varying techniques were being exploited in order to generate images that differed from the actual scene, such as when the Soviet Union manipulated photos in a 1940’s campaign that portrayed certain political leaders more favorably than o...

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