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The Hoax Photo Archive — Photo Fakery Throughout History
Category: Children
Holiday Greetings, from Spain’s Royal Family. (December 2005) Unable to gather for a photo shoot, the Spanish royal family instead digitally assembled for its Christmas holiday photo. More…
Fetal Footprint. (Circulating online since mid-2004) The abdominal wall is too muscular and thick to actually allow a footprint to be seen with this clarity. More…
Francis Hetling’s Victorian Waifs. (1974) These photos of Victorian-era street children turned out to be modern frauds. More…
Baby Adolf. (Late 1933) In 1933, a picture supposedly showing Adolf Hitler as a baby began circulating throughout England and America. The child in the picture looked positively menacing. However, the child wasn't really the infant führer. In 1938 a Mrs. Harriet Downs of Ohio happened to see the picture in a magazine and immediately recognized it as her son. Someone had darkened the shadows around the child's face to give him a more sinister look. More…
The Cottingley Fairies. (1917-1920) Two young girls used paper cutouts to create a series of images of "fairies" while playing in the garden of a Cottingley village home. Photographic experts examined the pictures and declared them genuine. Spiritualists promoted them as proof of the existence of supernatural creatures, and despite criticism by skeptics, the pictures became among the most widely recognized photos in the world. It was only decades later, in the late 1970s, that the photos were definitively debunked. More…
Ocean Execution. (December 1913) The New York American ran this photo, claiming that the parents of the children had been killed by Mexican soldiers. It said, "The children were driven into the water, forced to hold their hands above their heads, and shot in the back." This was a case of false captioning. The picture was actually an innocent snapshot taken by a holidaygoer in British Honduras. The children had been playing in the waves and raised their arms in order to make a better picture. 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.