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The Hoax Photo Archive — Photo Fakery Throughout History
Photos Faked for the Sake of Art
Orphaned Syrian Boy Sleeping Between his Parents’ Graves.. (Jan 2014) The photo, as captioned, tugged at the heartstrings. So it was no surprise that it quickly went viral. But it was soon revealed to be a staged shot taken by a photographer in Saudi Arabia as part of a conceptual art project. The graves were fake, and the boy was the photographer's nephew. More…
Long Exposure of a Tree Struck by Lightning. (2013) Photographer Darius Twin created this image using the technique of 'light painting,' which involves moving a hand-held light source in front of the camera. After he posted it on his Facebook page in October 2013, it soon went viral. However, the Internet recaptioned it with the claim that it was an actual image of lightning striking a tree. In its original context, it was clearly an art photo. More…
“I can promise, this will never get done”. (Created in 2005. Circulating online since 2008.) Artist Alison Jackson uses lookalikes to create images of "celebrities ostensibly caught unawares." More…
The Tip of the Iceberg. (2001) Photographer Ralph Clevenger created this image in 1999 by compositing together several different photos. He intended it as an art photo and never presented it otherwise. But around 2001, it began to circulate online with a false caption claiming it was a shot taken by a "Rig Manager for Global Marine Drilling in St. Johns, Newfoundland" and that "They actually have to divert the path of these things away from the rig by towing them with ships!" More…
The Kiss at City Hall. (April 1, 1950) Robert Doisneau steadfastly maintained that this photo of a couple kissing on a street in Paris was a spontaneous scene, fortuitously caught on film. Until he was sued by two people who claimed to be the couple in the scene. Doisneau then confessed he had staged the scene using professional models, who were not the people suing him. More…
Street Urchins Tossing Chestnuts. (1857) This may look like a real-life scene caught by the camera, but in fact is staged. Cameras were too slow in the 1850s to record something as quick-moving as a tossed chestnut. So Oscar Rejlander suspended a chestnut in mid-air with a piece of fine thread in order to create the scene. More…

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.