Category: Photojournalism

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March 31, 1989
The Disappearing Coke Can
An editor digitally removed a Coke can from this front-page image because he felt it ruined the composition of the photo.
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February 1982
The Case of the Moving Pyramids
In what became the first high-profile example of digital photo manipulation, National Geographic moved the pyramids slightly closer together to fit within the frame of the cover.
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Yeah Eckerd
The news photographer staged the scene by having a fan write the phrase "Yeah Eckerd" on the soles of his feet.
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May 4, 1970
The Missing Pole
This photo of a young woman screaming with grief over the body of a shot student at Kent State University is one of the most famous images of the 20th Century. But in the original version of the photo, a fence pole was positioned directly behind the head of the woman. Sometime an unknown photo editor airbrushed it out.
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Dr. Schweitzer in the Congo
More than thirty years after its initial publication, this famous photo by W. Eugene Smith was discovered to be two photos composited together.
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May 2, 1945
Red Army Flag Over Reichstag
This photo was both staged and doctored in an attempt to create a Soviet version of the Americans' Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima image.
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May 8, 1943
The Master Race
The May 8, 1943 cover of the British illustrated magazine Parade showed an unkempt, dour-looking German soldier with the satirical caption, "Master Race." But the man wasn't actually a German soldier. The photo was actually a piece of British government propaganda. The photographer later admitted the man was "the ugliest Arab they could find in the streets of Cairo... whom they dressed up in a sort of uniform."
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August 1942
The Nazi Air Marker Hoax
The U.S. Army press office released pictures supposedly showing "secret markers" placed by fifth-columnists in rural areas of the east coast to guide Nazi bombers toward military targets. But it turned out the "markers" had been investigated by the Army, and had been judged to be entirely innocent patterns on the ground. The release of the photos and the claim of their sinister meaning was attributed to "over-zealous army press-agentry."
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September 5, 1936
The Falling Soldier
Despite allegations that Robert Capa staged this famous war photo, historical research shows that he did not.
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May 1936
The Perambulating Skull
Arthur Rothstein took this photo while documenting drought conditions in South Dakota for the Resettlement Administration. But Republican papers noticed that the same skull appeared in other photos by Rothstein and accused him of using it as a "movable prop" to dramatize the drought for political purposes. They mockingly referred to the cow's head as the "perambulating skull."
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July 29, 1925
Mother Cat Stops Traffic
The news photographer arrived too late to capture the original scene, so he convinced the policeman to recreate it.
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December 1913
Ocean Execution
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.
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Taken in 1863. Exposed as a fake in 1961.
A Sharpshooter’s Last Sleep
Civil War photographers used a corpse as a movable prop.
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March or April 1858
Interior of the Secundra Bagh
Human bones were disinterred and scattered around to recreate the aftermath of a battle.
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April 23, 1855
The Valley of the Shadow of Death
Roger Fenton took this photo while documenting the Crimean War for the British government. This image, considered a masterpiece of war photography, shows a simple, but haunting view of a cannonball-strewn road near Sevastopol. But in 1981 historian Mark Haworth-Booth determined that Fenton probably staged this scene, moving cannonballs from the ditch onto the road in order to create a more dramatic image.
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