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Author Topic: Does a photo lie or its caption?  (Read 1293 times)

Alan Klein

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Does a photo lie or its caption?
« on: June 12, 2018, 08:16:44 PM »

We have a lot of discussions of how much photo editing programs can be used without making the photo into a "lie".  But often, in photojournalism, it's the caption that's in question - not the photo. 

This apparently un-edited photo at G7 that went international was claimed to purport Angel Merkle starring down Trump.  I've even seen the photo cropped from behind Merkel's head to eliminate the people behind her making the photo seem even more like a stare-down.  But the analysis of the original photo shown below by many indicates a stare down or Trump being lectured.  Is it?  What I see is that Trump isn't even looking at Merkel (6).   Rather,  he (1) and Prime Minister Abe of Japan (4), and Security Advisor Bolton (2) are looking at and listening to French President Macron (7) who is speaking.  Yet none of what I read even states that.  Is it that only I see who's looking at whom?

So what's the truth?  How much of distortion of photos are not the photo but the interpretations and captions?



To have a little fun, here's another picture taken a few seconds earlier or later showing everyone having a good time.    News outlets are giving photography a bad name.


stamper

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 03:48:16 AM »

Here comes another political debate? :'(

OmerV

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 07:24:21 AM »

It is clear that Trump is looking at Macron, and Merkel is looking at Trump. But to me, it is the body posture that is telling. It suggests an adult stance towards petulant, juvenile defiance.

In this case, as in much of photojournalism, context is needed. Of course, context, like history is interpretive. Which is what the Euro-Merkel camp is doing. Still, when the President of the United States becomes accommodating towards authoritarian regimes, but belligerent towards allies, things get weird.

Strange bedfellows and all that. Truth is, ...

BartvanderWolf

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 09:35:17 AM »

Here comes another political debate? :'(

Not necessarily, it just shows the importance of photography, where timing makes the difference.

Cheers,
Bart
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stamper

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 09:41:00 AM »

Not necessarily, it just shows the importance of photography, where timing makes the difference.

Cheers,
Bart

 An image without a politician in it could have proved the point just as well. I take it you are itching for a political debate?                           

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 10:12:04 AM »

Alan, YOUR caption doesnít lie. #1 is #1, period.

The rest are just a bunch of pompoues, arrogant figures, stomping their little feet in impotent anger, thinking they still matter.  ;)

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 10:34:54 AM »

Alan, in fairness to Stamperís comment, you might want to ask moderators to move this discussion to the Coffee Corner.

Alan Klein

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 11:18:53 AM »

An image without a politician in it could have proved the point just as well. I take it you are itching for a political debate?                           

Well, it is true that the noise surrounding the picture bothered me as being untrue and politically tainted.  But so many of our journalism pictures are just that - they are being used to make a political point by misinterpretations and captions that are in the mind of the caption writer.  So even though the photo is unphotoshopped, it's the editors who distort it through their mis-characterizations.  I thought that general issue worthy of debate.


If the moderators feel this is strictly a political discussion that should be in the Coffee Corner, then I would certainly want them to move it there.  On the other hand, if they think the topic goes to the "art" and efficacy of photojournalism in general, as I do, then it should remain here in the sub-topic of "Is it Art".  I have to admit that I thought about both locations and suppose it could go in either.  There maybe even be a better section than these.

Jeremy Roussak

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 12:48:17 PM »

If the discussion remains focussed on the ways in which perception of photographs can be altered by description, it can stay here.

Jeremy
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MattBurt

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2018, 01:32:03 PM »

Of the two versions of the photo, it's tough to say which is more of a real deception of events since I was not there. It's possible that there was a much lighter mood like the less publicized photo depicts but that doesn't seem to align with multiple reports on the event.

The one that ran certainly fits the majority of accounts regarding the summit.

Fake news?
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Alan Klein

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2018, 02:25:05 PM »

Of the two versions of the photo, it's tough to say which is more of a real deception of events since I was not there. It's possible that there was a much lighter mood like the less publicized photo depicts but that doesn't seem to align with multiple reports on the event.

The one that ran certainly fits the majority of accounts regarding the summit.

Fake news?

Of course the majority of foreign news outlets captioned the picture in a negative way towards Trump.  After all, the leaders of their countries were at odds with Trump's position.  I also note that Japanese President Abe has his arms crossed too.  Was he acting petulant too?

However, despite their prejudice and just plain opinions we all have, don't we want the photograph's caption to be neutral when presented in a so-called unbiased forum or newspaper?  Sort of like, "Members of G7 Discussing Terms of Final Statement." Then let the viewer determine who's staring whom down or what they think is going on?

How should reputable news outlets handle which of the two pictures above should be  used?    They present differing views of what's going on and how the parties relate to one another. 

David Sutton

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2018, 12:43:02 AM »

I've saved that  first image for teaching composition.
It's hard to find examples like this of the Fibonacci spiral.
David
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MattBurt

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2018, 12:52:41 PM »


How should reputable news outlets handle which of the two pictures above should be  used?    They present differing views of what's going on and how the parties relate to one another.

I think they pick the one(s) that appears to match the story.
I've done some editorial photography for news outlets but I usually do not write the story. Sometimes they run my photos with a story because they go well together even if my photo isn't of that exact moment being referred to in the story. But even though there is that dependency, the photo does appear to support the story and to me that doesn't seem misleading even if the caption and story are not a 100% match (like it was a different moment than what is referenced in the caption, but would still make a fitting image and could have been that moment).
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Alan Klein

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2018, 09:33:01 PM »

Matt:  That's a reasonable assumption.  The issue I have is that the statement so many outlets made of Merkel staring down Trump just doesn't match the photo.  Trump is looking at Macron.  If Merkel was erased the picture would still look intact.  It's like no one even cares about the basic interpretation error in what the photo physically shows.  Meanwhile Merkel has half of Germany thinking she "stared" down the president.  Meanwhile the second photo shows her starring dreamily into Trump's eyes like she's waiting for him to ask her out on a date.  It's all bizarre. 

So here we are often arguing about the truthfulness of a photograph in how much we should photoshop it. And it really doesn't matter because the news publishers will present it in a way that matches whatever political point they want to make.  I remember as a kid the statement that photos don't lie.  Well they don't.  It's people who lie about them. 

Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2018, 03:49:18 AM »

I. Surprised about all the surprise. Photos donít lie? Really? So that flat little slice of time,  framed to include or exclude certain items, arranged in a particular fashion, enhanced in terms of tonality and colour was expected to convey an objective reality, whatever objective realty is supposed to be.

Mark me down as amused.
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RSL

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2018, 07:55:43 AM »

To echo a similar aphorism: photos don't lie but liars photo.

OmerV

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2018, 08:34:47 AM »

It is gamesmanship, optics, politics, something Trump fully understands. In fact, I would not be surprised if he were a bit impressed by this.

Photographs donít lie, people do. But photographs are not the truth.  8)

Alan Klein

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2018, 09:44:32 AM »

Here's the part when Trump asked Merkel for a date.
G7

Paulo Bizarro

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2018, 05:36:56 AM »

Photos do not lie. People lie.

Rob C

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Re: Does a photo lie or its caption?
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2018, 08:40:07 AM »

Photos do not lie. People lie.

On the other hand, sometimes they, people, just reveal a different perspective. Exactly as do photographs.

Rob
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