Category: Striking a Pose

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July 1992
White Hot Mama
Ann Richards, governor of Texas, appeared on the cover of Texas Monthly in a "Bad Girl" pose astride a white-and-chrome Harley-Davidson. But Richards hadn't posed for the photo because she was unable to schedule time for a photoshoot. Texas Monthly created the shot by combining a stock photo of her head with a picture of a model. Richards later said that she loved the photo.
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July, 1991
Missing in Action
The photo made headlines when it surfaced in July 1991. It appeared to show three American fliers, who had been listed as missing during the Vietnam War, holding a sign with the date 25-5-90. The implication was that the men were still alive somewhere in south-east Asia. But a Pentagon investigation discovered it was actually a doctored version of a 1923 photograph of three Soviet farmers.
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December 1990
Madonna’s Gapless Glamour
Madonna got mad when she discovered a photo editor had digitally closed the gap between her front teeth.
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August 26, 1989
Oprah’s Head Transplant
Oprah Winfrey appeared on the cover of TV Guide (left) lounging in a gauzy dress on top of a pile of money. She looked glamorous, but only the head belonged to her. The body came from a 1979 publicity shot of Ann-Margret (right) taken for a Rockette special.
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February 1964
The Vanishing Belly Button, 1964
Scandinavian Airlines placed an advertisement in newspapers throughout America. It featured a bikini-clad model posing on a rock above the caption "What to show your wife in Scandinavia." But the version that appeared in the Los Angeles Times had one detail altered. The editors of the Times airbrushed out the model's belly button. They said this was done in order to "conform to regulations."
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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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ca. 1923
High-Pressure Hijinks
A soldier appears to be lifted in the air by the pressure from a water hose. The source of this photo is uncertain.
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The Cottingley Fairies
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.
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ca. 1900
A Bear and its Hunters
A humorous example of a staged scene — a bear joins its hunters for a friendly group photo, somewhere in the Utah wilderness.
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ca. 1888
The Rope Trick
A young lady poses on a swing in a photographer's studio. Except, she isn't really on a swing. 19th-century photographers needed subjects to remain stationary to get the proper focus and exposure. So swinging back and forth was out of the question. The swing was actually a prop available from a catalog. The ropes remained rigid and were not attached to anything above.
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December 1867
Dickens in America
An early example of how a celebrity's appearance could be tidied up in the darkroom. The portrait of Dickens on the right was taken in 1861. But during Dickens' 1867 tour of the U.S., the Matthew Brady studio used darkroom techniques to improve the photo, producing the portrait on the left, which they sold to the public, promising that it showed "Mr. Dickens just as he is in his readings."
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Late 1860s
Lincoln’s Portrait
This standing portrait of Lincoln was created soon after the American Civil War. It hung in many classrooms, but Lincoln never posed for it. An unknown entrepreneur created it by cutting-and-pasting a headshot of Lincoln onto a portrait of the Southern leader John Calhoun. This was done because there were hardly any appropriate "heroic-style" portraits of Lincoln made during his life.
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Mumler’s Spirit Photos
Image created by William Mumler, 1872. "Bronson Murray in a Trance with the Spirit of Ella Bonner." Mumler created the genre of the spirit photo: ghostly images supposedly caught on film.
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Portrait of the Photographer as a Drowned Man
Louis Daguerre was the first to patent a photographic process. But Hippolyte Bayard had independently invented a rival photographic process known as direct positive printing, and had done so as early as Daguerre, but his invention didn't earn him fame and riches. Frustrated, he created a photograph to express his feelings, showing himself pretending to be a suicide victim.
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