Altered Images Opening Reception Tonight: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography


Tonight, The Bronx Documentary Center brings to our borough a very important and ground-breaking exhibition which discusses some of the most infamous cases of photo manipulation  and misleading captions in the media and global photography contests.

Some of the images included in the exhibition are that of Chris Arnade who comes to The Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point in an exploitation of the most down-trodden in the community to photograph them for his personal gain and fame.

The New York Times writes about the exhibition:

“Most curators hope to get glowing reviews and popular acclaim when they mount an exhibit. Michael Kamber, on the other hand, is expecting some blowback for his latest show, “Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography,” which opens this weekend at the Bronx Documentary Center.

And he’s perfectly O.K. with that.

“I think there will be some unhappy people,” said Mr. Kamber, a photojournalist and founder of the center. “That’s good. If people would stop faking photos, then they wouldn’t have to be worried about being called out.”

The exhibit, a selection of well-known images that have been altered, staged or faked, is an indictment of some modern practices, and practitioners, of photojournalism. At a time when veteran photographers are being replaced by newcomers or untrained “citizen journalists,” it also raises important questions about the profession’s future amid increasing doubts about the veracity of images.

Mr. Kamber, who covered the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and conflicts in Africa for The New York Times, would be infuriated whenever he saw photographers pose images in the field or alter them in postprocessing.

“I’ve lost friends who put their lives on the line to get it right, and then you have people faking it,” said Mr. Kamber, who was close to both Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, who were killed in Libya. “It’s a betrayal. Just get it right. Don’t change things, don’t direct your subjects, don’t lie in your captions, don’t move pixels. Get it right. That’s what we’re here to do.”

The exhibit, which consists of more than 40 images, catalogs some of the darker moments in the history of photojournalism. And there is enough material to leave many news organizations red-faced: National Geographic for digitally moving Egyptian pyramids; Time magazine for darkening O. J. Simpson’s skin color; Magnum and Pictures of the Year International for a dramatic award-winning image by Paolo Pellegrin with a misleading caption (below); Associated Press and Reuters for moving digitally altered scenes from the Middle East; and The New York Times for publishing a posed photograph in 2002 of a boy holding a toy gun outside an Arabian-foods grocery.” – Posing Questions of Photographic Ethics/New York Times

About the exhibition:

Saturday, June 20th, 6-9PM
Free and Open to the Public

June 20 – August 2, 2015
Thursdays and Fridays 3-7PM
Saturdays and Sundays 1-5PM

This exhibition will explore disputed images in photojournalism and documentary photography–photos that have been faked, posed and retouched. From the American Civil War to this year’s World Press Photo contest–in which judges disqualified 20% of the finalists–some photographers and editors have misled the public or made mistakes of judgement and execution. This groundbreaking exhibition examines many of the most prominent cases and shines a spotlight on acceptable documentary practice and ethical photojournalism.

The Bronx Documentary Center is located at 614 Courtlandt Avenue at E 151st Street in Melrose and is easily accessible via public transportation.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.