People have always wanted to chaneg reality.  Joseph Stalin is shown here with a comrade, Nikolai Yezhov.

                                                                                                                                                                        My friend unveiled her family portrait at a neighborhood party.  In the photograph, she, her husband and their five beautiful children — teenagers and young adults — were bathed in a glow of filtered sunlight as they casually stood in a courtyard.  They looked so happy to be there together.  

There were oohs and ahs all around, but this is what we were thinking.  What did she have to promise — or threaten — to get everyone together at the same time — and smiling, too!  Before any of us was bold enough or rude enough to ask her, my friend confessed. The daughter on the left had thrown a snit about the photo appointment and had shown up too late.  She was later photo-shopped seamlessly into the photo. 

No kidding?  So this family had warts, too.  Then we marveled at the photograph.  The tardy daughter blended in so well with the rest of the family. The same lighting, the same shadows, the same stance, the same size — everything in the same proportion.  I’ll never trust a family portrait again, although I should have been wise to this long ago.  A recent New York Times article discusses this phenomenon in this article. Here’s the link: I Was There. Just Ask Photoshop.

This is a flat wall!

This is a flat wall! There is no gallery here. This is an example of "trompe-l'oeil," which means trick the eye.

Humans have been doctoring reality since the days when Cro Magnon man drew out-sized bison on the cave wall to brag about his hunting prowess.  Artists throughout history have been fooling the eye in “trompe-l’oeil,” making you think something is real when it isn’t.  One of the first movies was of men rocketing to the moon, not that anyone was fooled.

Equally difficult is photographing things as they are. The camera lens distorts.  Neither film nor digital can capture reality the way the eye can.  The eye is more sensitive to color and can see more hues than the camera can capture.  I’ll write more about this later.  In the meantime, don’t be fooled


Filed under Art, Entertainment, Family, History, Humor, Journalism, Life, Personal, Photography, Technology

10 responses to “Fauxtography

  1. alwaysjan

    I personally would like to have a picture of me when I was skinny Photoshopped into every picture taken during my “beefy” years. On the flip side, when my sister-in-law got a divorce, my mother-in-law just covered up the ex with a piece of black paper in the group portraits. Not too subtle. A fauxtography intervention would have been preferable.


  2. Mr. Stalin really had his photos doctored and enhanced, I once read. He was badly pockmarked and did not want the public to know how rather unsightly he looked.


  3. Catherine Sherman

    I tried to put a cutline on the before and after of Stalin, but it never appeared. I think that Stalin even looks younger and thinner in the “after” photo, in addition to getting rid of the photo of his rival. I think it’s a dangerous trend to try to erase the past. It’s hard enough getting at the truth already. It makes us distrustful of everything we see. Still, I wish I could change some of my hair-dos and ridiculous outfits in my old photos….


  4. Slick, I wish I had thought of the word “fauxtography”! Now that we have photo shop, maybe I’ll put out pictures of myself in Italy or Spain. I recently saw a picture of myself and thought my skin looked pretty good, (must be the wheat grass) only to be told I had been airbrushed! arggg


  5. I’ve loved using Photoshop since I discovered it about 10 years ago… 😆

    It’s great tp be able to manipulate a picture, but what I love the most is enhancing or “fixing-up” a photo…it’s what I do the most when I post the pictures alongside my blog’s posts.


  6. Gilou

    About trompe-l’oeil:
    Have you heard about Henri Cadiou?
    He handed the trompe-l’oeil in the spotlight in 1960. Visit his website on which there are trompel’oeil and realistic paintings: “henricadiou.com”He is recognized in France as a leader and founder of movement “Trompe-l’oeil Reality”. He briefed the Cultural Center of New York and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington and in many countries.
    Best regards. Pierre GILOU (painter)


  7. Reblogged this on Shouts from the Abyss and commented:
    A post that was four years ahead of its time. A good read!


  8. Jerry

    With photography, it’s Halloween non stop. “Trick or Treat”. LOL


  9. Pingback: Vermont Church Before and After Photoshop | Catherine Sherman

  10. Wow, Catherine; these images are amazing…
    And what fantastic artistry to produce the ‘trick of the eye’ on a ‘flat’ wall; quite incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

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