Pandora’s Camera; Photography after Photography (The mystery of the missing nipple)
Author: Joan Fontcuberta
Spoiler Alert: Digital surgery is a lie.
The use of image manipulation is discussed by Joan Fontcuberta in ‘The mystery of the missing nipple’. The text’s accessibility allows the reader to follow the excerpt through topics of photoshopping celebrities and the use of digital retouching in photojournalism.
The text begins by exploring the use of photoshop on commercial photographs. Keira Knightley has formerly posed for film promotional posters and company advertising campaigns where her breasts have been digitally altered to appear larger. Fontcuberta discusses how instances such as these are now seen as normal due to our ability to become more focused upon the image than the real thing, it is taken for granted and has become a default post-production process. Continuing on to discuss the use of theses processes through photojournalism; Fontcuberta verifies the complication of the distinction between intent and moral issues by drawing our attention to photographer Brian Walski. In 2003, Walski who was a staff photographer at the Los Angeles Times; had a photograph published of a British soldier on the outskirts of Basra, pointing his gun at a group of Iraqis. Walski later admitted that he had digitally combined two photographs to create more drama within the composition. Having done this, the photograph displayed civilians in the background of the photograph that appeared twice. The editors at the Los Angeles Times saw this as an ethical issue that discredited the authenticity of journalism. However, the readily available techniques of digital manipulation enables editors to also photoshop images without being held immediately accountable. ‘The hypocrisy in all this is that editors rend their garments and wave codes of ethics in the air when these things are done by photographers, but are perfectly happy to permit and justify them when they coincide with the institutional or corporate interests of their papers.’