Tell A Lie Angeline | August 19th, 2008


(Tell A Lie Series by Hadlow + Cornish)

This Summer, graphic designer Henry Hadlow created a series of images with friend Ed Cornish called “Tell A Lie.” The designers came up with the concept as a response to the doctoring and misrepresentation of images in photojournalism as a result of Photoshop.

Hadlow + Cornish’s project makes a very creative statement about ethics and integrity when portraying news in the digital media age. As a photojournalist, it’s morally wrong to impose two images together and call it news.

However, as a digital photographer, this series raises an interesting topic: How far do you take digital editing in photography? Is Photoshop the digital darkroom, or is it an easy fix with all of its filters and color adjustment options? Technology gives us so many tools to perfect our work and create the output we ultimately wish to produce.

This weekend, I went to the Art Institute of Chicago to view their photography collection, which includes images from 1839 to present. It was inspiring to see so many incredible photographs at one time, and it served as a huge reminder for me that the foundation of a good picture is composition and the intent of the photographer. The photographers whose art hangs on the museum walls did not have Photoshop to help enhance their images. They had to rely solely on perfect settings, proper lighting, and a stellar creative approach to portray their subjects.

The trip to the museum definitely inspired me to get a little more ‘old school’ with my work. I put down the digital SLR for the day and picked my 35mm camera back up to remove myself from the idea of instant gratification in photography. Even with all of these great gadgets and high tech fixes, images (and all art, really) should be powerful on their own.

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  • fredK

    [QUOTE="Angeline"]As a photojournalist, it’s morally wrong to impose two images together and call it news.[/QUOTE]

    Journalism is documenting, not creating. By extension, if you put two separate images together to create a third image (reasonably to send a different, pointed, message), you are for all intents and purposes telling a lie. Whether you’re lying for a “good” reason or not doesn’t change the fact that it is a lie. From this point of view, ’tis unethical, absolutely. Now we can discuss whether black is actually black or a composite of other colors and shades…

    Personally I use Photoshop as a digital darkroom and sometimes as artboard. I try hard not to tell lies.

    [QUOTE="Angeline"]I put down the digital SLR for the day and picked my 35mm camera back up to remove myself from the idea of instant gratification in photography.[/QUOTE]

    This is of course a good thing, and something everyone should do now and then, step out of the accustomed routine, box, body, and look at the world from a different perspective. I think you could go “old school” with the dSLR just as well — it’s only a mental state after all (to quote the short guy, you know, in the film). My point is that if you’re relying on technical stuff, the gadgets, to produce your work, perhaps it’s time to look at your process instead, or your motives for using that process, rather than the tools you employ. A tool is just a tool, and if the tool is good it shouldn’t matter whether it’s high or low tech.

    I had a period a few years back when I was fed up with my photography, I was going nowhere, but I didn’t feel like going back from digital to analogue (I never have liked looking back). Luckily I stumbled across the Lensbaby at that time (http://www.lensbaby.com/) and after that everything was just peachy.

    But that’s just my opinion. ;)

  • Angeline

    Fred –
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I have a Lensbaby as well and it’s quite fun…I only own 35mm/medium format toy cameras (almost the entire lomography series..I know, it’s sorta crazy), which have very little manual controls. Using those cameras are fun and out of the box for me because when I shoot on my dSLR, I only use manual settings. I think about the lighting, f-stop, and shutter speed, and other technicalities as much as I factor in composition. These toy cameras are my weakness because they bring this unpredictability to images (light leaks, hard vignetting, over exposure, double exposure even!) that make photography fun again for me when it becomes a bit stale.. :)

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