Everything from the popular Farting Santa to fake Lottery Ticket stocking stuffers.

Techniques of Fakery
There are six basic techniques of faking a photo, none of which are mutually exclusive.

1: Inserting details. This includes placing an element from one photo into another to create a composite image, reproducing a detail of the photo by cloning it, superimposing an image onto another, or drawing-in details.

2: Deleting details. This is usually done by extending background elements over the unwanted detail. Or one can crop out the unwanted detail.

3: Manipulating elements within the photo. For instance, one can adjust the color, resize details, or rotate or move details.

4: falsifying the caption. (In a sense, every fake photo has been falsely captioned.)

5: Staging the scene. This is considered fakery particularly when it occurs in photojournalism. Varieties of staging a scene include using models and cutouts and inserting a prop into the scene.

6: Taking a photo at a trick angle. The most common example of this is the use of forced perspective.


Time Periods
hoax photo database

Thumbnail Gallery: Present-1840
The Hoax Photo Database catalogs examples of photo fakery throughout the history of photography. Included in the database are photos that are "real," but which have been suspected of being fake, as well as images whose veracity remains undetermined. The images are listed here in reverse-chronological order (you can also view them in chronological order, 1840 to the present). They are categorized by theme, technique of fakery, and time period. Other Viewing Options: Full Text Mode: Present-1840 or 1840-Present

“I can promise, this will never get done”
Staged using lookalike
Created in 2005. Circulating online since 2008.

Migrant Mother Makeover
April Fool's Joke
April 2005 issue of Popular Photography

Martha’s Last Laugh
Fake (composite)
March 2005

Islamic Hostage Action-Figure Hoax
Fake (staged with a doll)
February 1, 2005

Tsunami Seen From a High-Rise
Fake (composite)
Appeared online in early January 2005

Modern-Day Diplocaulus
Fake (clay model)
Circulating online since late 2004

Whatever It Takes
Fake (cloned-in details)
October 2004

Home Computer of the Future
Fake (intended as a joke)
First posted online September 11, 2004

Fetal Footprint
Undetermined (probably fake)
Circulating online since mid-2004

Giant Human Skeleton
Fake (doctored)
Circulating online since early 2004

Hanoi John
Fake (composite)
Circulating online since Feb 2004

Trophy Turkey
Real but arguably misleading (captions omitted relevant details)
Thanksgiving 2003

The Great Blackout of 2003
Fake (digitally altered)
Found online in late August 2003

The Real Julia
Fake (composite)
July 2003

Manitoba Home Security
Fake (composite)
Found online in 2003

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