Photography, Post-Truth and ‘alternative facts’

in the wake of Donald Trump’s presss secretary presenting ‘alternative facts’ over how many people attended his inauguration, TIME magazine reflected on the role of photography in this new era.

It begins with the age-old mantra of ‘the camera never lies’.  Indeed the public at large would seem to have accepted the photographs comparing the number of people stood before the White House as all the evidence required.

But we are living in an era where, in the main, we don’t study photographs any more.  We “Glance, swipe, glance, swipe, often on a tiny smartphone screen” without verifying anything in them as true:

We’re the photos taken at the same point in proceedings?

What effect did the weather have on attendance?

Are they, in fact, photographs of what they are purported to be?

Despite the public being far more savvy nowadays to how cameras do indeed lie (particularly through the use of Photoshop in the fashion and advertising sectors) we still seem to inherently trust a photo more than we do people.  We take selfies as ‘evidence’ of having been there and few of our friends would challenge the authenticity of them.

With so many photographs now circulating I wonder whether the public at large differentiate between ‘adverts’ (judged to be lies) and ‘news’ (assumed as being truth) in an image, but only if it supports their personal viewpoint?  We saw in Context and Narrative just how dangerous this assumption can be.

Exercise – ‘The Real and the Digital’ | Photography 1 – Context & Narrative


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