Media Analysis: Dangers of Photoshop

By Chelsea Bishop

Image found in bberg73's Flickr library

The New York Times article “Photoshop and Photography: When Is It Real?” by David Pogue caught my interest because we’ve just recently been covering the subject of “Photoshopped” photographs in my Media Ethics class, and discussing at what point doctoring a photo becomes unethical or dishonest.

Pogue writes about a recent photograph competition in the magazine Popular Photography in which the winners were composite (Photoshopped) images, meaning that the scene portrayed in the photo never actually occurred. In the article, Pogue asks readers where they would draw the line when it comes to photo manipulation, providing a bulleted list of things photographers do to better their product and asking the reader’s opinion on each. I liked this because it gets the author’s audience involved and really thinking about the article topic.

I think this is a particularly interesting subject right now; with today’s advanced technology it can be virtually impossible to tell a real image from a Photoshopped one. Photographers can use this not only to make their photo more aesthetically pleasing, but also, if they so choose, to deceive the public and lead them to believe something happened that never did.

This is dangerous territory. It often happens that a photo is discovered to be manipulated and represent a falsity after it has already been published. When the public finds this out, their faith in photography is rightfully shaken. If this happens enough, after a while people will begin to expect this particular form of media to mislead them, which is undoubtedly an undesirable state of affairs.

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