Category Archives: Photography

Staging Stories

I’ll start by saying that I am not generally part of the Facebook police. I figure the medium just lends itself to the spreading of misinformation, and I have a limited amount of time and energy to keep people honest. I rarely pursue all the photos and factoids posted by friends.

But, for some reason, the photo of a little girl curled up asleep in the outline of a female figure with the caption indicating she was an Iraqi orphan longing for her mother seemed too heart wrenching to be true. It didn’t take me long to discover that the photo had, indeed, been staged by a professional photographer. The little girl is Iranian and a relative of the photographer who, on her flickr page, has similar photos.

The question asked by Annie at PhD in Parenting is important for all of us to consider: “Does it matter?” She comes down on the side of yes, and so do I. She writes:

I know that in this day and age of the Internet, and especially since I’ve been on the Internet for 22 years now, I should know not to take things at face value. But it grabbed me and then I felt betrayed that it was staged, but presented as photo journalism.

As Annie points out, there are plenty of sad stories of children in war zones. Why make up a story? Maybe because you can? And perhaps the original poster figured it would highlight a tragedy so its verity was not important. But, a quick look at the poster’s public Facebook profile shows a wide variety of posts from silly cats to find the panda so I’m not sure we can give him the benefit of the doubt. I would like to extend that benefit to my friend who shared it…she is a socially conscious individual who really does care about the world.

But, she is also a well-educated woman who should know better. I suspect if I called her on it, she would be apologetic but might also lean towards the side of bringing attention to children in war and be less concerned about what I see as a major digital citizenship problem. If you aren’t willing to check your sources before you post, what other questionable bits of information might you be passing along? Maybe nobody gets hurt…well, except for the photographer whose photo is under standard copyright and the next person who shares it only to find out it’s fake and, honestly, my friend whose reputation is now suspect at least in my mind. These are certainly minor hurts in a larger world of hurting children but scaled up they lead to the kinds of misinformation that make the web the dangerous echo chamber it has become.


Covering the Water Bottle Story

In case you missed it, a plastic water bottle showed up in a Downton Abbey Season 5 promotional picture. Opinions on the appearance of the bottle ran from epic fail to clever publicity. But, the best coverage of the story came from the Today Show who collected lots of remixes of the photo, showing off the creative spirit of many Internet users. Might make a good Daily Create assignment

Dick Francis on the Power of Photography

“You’re amazing. You have this talent, and you don’t use it.”

“But…everyone takes photographs.”

“Sure they do. But not everyone takes a long series of photographs which illustrate a whole way of life.” She tapped off the ash. “It’s all there isn’t it? The hard work, the dedication, the bad weather, the humdrum, the triumphs, the pain…I’ve only looked through these pictures once, and in no sort of order, and I know what your life’s like. I know it intimately. Because that’s how you’ve photographed it. I know your life from the inside. I see what you’ve seen. I see the enthusiasm in those owners. I see their variety. I see what you owe to the stable lads. I see the worry of trainers, it’s everywhere. I see the laughter in jockeys, and the stoicism. I see what you’ve felt. I see what you’ve understood about people. I see people in a way I hadn’t before, because of what you’ve seen.”

From ReflexDick Francis

Cold Creativity

I used my some of my time over the break to reconnect with The Daily Create. I wrote a few poems, posted some photos and found myself somewhat obsessed with Robert Falcon Scott, the tragic Antarctic explorer. Maybe it’s the Polar Vortex.

In response to the New Year’s Day assignment, I wrote Scott’s new year’s resolution for January 1912, which was to reach the South Pole first and claim glory for England. He and his team were already on their way to the South Pole, unaware that Roald Amundsen had beaten them by nearly a month.

Then, I decided to try out my first historical selfie:


The tent in the back is the one left by Amundsen.

In doing some research, I discovered Scott and his crew made their own group selfie the day they reached the South Pole. They did so by attaching a string to the camera shutter:

south pole