Archive for October, 2009


Subliminal Messaging

October 26, 2009

The dishonesty to the reader reminded me of subliminal messaging and to an extent is the same because the person ‘faking’ or doctoring the images is trying to make us think, believe or want something we conventionally shouldn’t otherwise they wouldnt have altered the image. The power behind photographers and their option to decieve makes me wonder if there is an industry behind subliminal photography.

It turns out that ‘subliminal photography’, the deceptive tool to fool the viewer is simply refered to as ADVERTISING and is rewarded instead of penilization. After Googling ‘subliminal photography’, the did you mean was ‘subliminal advertising’ which made it all alot clearer.

The concept of subliminal messaging makes one wonder why is alteration done in the first place? What will it gain, and does it make a difference?

One important and quite controversial use of subliminal messaging, used in a video, not an image took place during the Presidential Elections. The John Mcain campaign altered a video of Barak Obama to spell the words ‘HANG’ directly behind him on a poster. 26/10/09

The deception was overlooked as Obamas catch phrase for his campaign was CHANGE, and so blocking out the first and last letter was easy. In a scenario like the Presidential Elections, the aim of tricks like those are to fool the viewers and to implant false thoughts into their heads. But the only real question that seems to need answering is does it ever work?


Is this a common occurance in photo journalism?

October 26, 2009

After looking at Brian Walski’s fake, I wanted to see if the alteration of photos in this industry had happened before and whether similar repercussions followed. At first the idea of firing Walski seemed a bit strong, but in photo journalism industry, the legitimacy of your photo directly reflects the integrity of the journalist. And so the two go hand in hand when it comes to punishment for a fake.

My reserach lead me to surf the net for simple ‘photo fakes’ and to see if lessons had been learnt over time whether or not faking photos is worth the risk. I was surprised by the amount of front page covers that miss lead readers without them knowing.

marthastewart1 26/10/09

This picture compares the original Martha Stewart photo with the front page spread on News Week. The photo is less controversial to Walski’s but the principal is the same, deception of the reader and whether or not it matters if the photo is Martha Stewart’s body or if it matters if the soldier wasnt signaling to the man and child, deceiving the reader is unethical and most importantly, unprofessional.


The Aftermath

October 22, 2009

Brian Walski was fired after the discovery was made and was taken out of his active role in Iraq immediately.

“I have tarnished the reputation” of the Los Angeles Times, the Tribune company and “especially the very talented and extremely dedicated photographers and picture editors that have made my four-and-a half years at the Times a true quality experience.”

“I have always maintained the highest ethical standards throughout my career.”

Don Barletti saw Walski after the incident had broken out, saying “When I saw him I really did not recognize him. He was sunburned, had not eaten in days, nor slept in 36 hours; his clothes were filthy, his beard – all over the place. And he smelled like a goat.”

Barletti recalled asking Walski, “How could you do this?'”

I f–-ed up,” Walski is said to have answered, “and now no one will touch me…” 22/10/09

As a professional, passionate and hard working photojournalist the question remains, why did he do it?

The lifestyle and conditions that Walski was going through during his profession and more particularly in Iraq might have brought Walski to the point where a minor alteration of one of his images might just be worth all his hard work. The image was good enough to make it to front page news and so this might have been Walski’s intentions, and the efforts put in could have been equal to if the photo was 100% real. Walski’s frustration in his industry, fatigue and most likely his competitiveness lead him to do this, and was ultimately his downfall.

The topic raises plenty of questions including, does he deserve to loose his job? Were his actions justified? Does this happen alot?


October 22nd 09

October 22, 2009

Iraq Scandal

“On March 30, 2003 Brian Walski took photographs near Basra, Iraq of British soldiers telling Iraqi civilians during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq to take cover. He took a number of pictures and while later viewing them decided to combine a couple of his images to create a superior picture[2]. That day he sent the pictures to LA staff who posted them on the internal photo sharing system for various media outlets owned by the Tribune News Corporation. Media across the country ran the image including Walski’s LA Times and the Tribune Corp owned, Hartford Courant. It was at the Courant that the image was noticed.”

The images used to compose the third are shown below, taken from     22/10/09

It seems as if Brian Walski, under the ‘pressure’ of his job as a photojournalist decided to create a fake picture using two of his previous shots. The first original shows a soldier looking towards a man holding his child, standing amongst a group of scared Iraqi civilians. The second is the same soldier extending his arm to the man with the child, motioning to ‘get down’ under the fire of enemy bullets. The third picture  composes the solider gesturing to the man, and the man holding his child to the soldier to form an ‘ideal’ image for Walski.

After reading what had happened to Walski the article made me wonder what happened after the discovery?


Hello world!

October 19, 2009

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