Getting started: Problems with over-manipulated imagery

by am109145

In order to reinforce and construct a critical research title I first must identify examples of the the area’s of photo manipulation I want to look at. At this point in time I feel as though I need to pick out examples that express the kinds of images that are in my head and that I am thinking about, this may be broad at this moment in time but hopefully it will help me to focus in/on a particular area. In the first few posts on this blog I will predominatly discuss the problems present within the images that I found to be ‘overly manipulated/constructed.


The images below show various fast-food restaurants using images of there food products in advertising. The two comparative images show what it is advertised to us visually either on tv or on a billboard/format of advertising alongside a what you actually get when when you purchase food from these fast-food chains.





Glamorisation of reality VS the disappointment of reality – One of the main problems created through imagery like this for a fast-food addict is the glamorisation of reality. Looking at the first image we can clearly see that the advertiser has clearly artificially constructed the burger through playing within the lighting, competition, colour and contrast. We can also identify that that the proportion of the actual burger itself shown on the advert in comparison to the actual burger you purchase is incorrect and misleading. The advertised burger is seen to have additional salad components inside it in comparison to the actual burger you purchase, the texture of the burger has also been tweaked along with making the meat look more succulent than reality. Overall the problems created due to fantasization of reality on a consumer is a feeling os disappointment on purchase! the advertiser is almost playing with the emotions of a fast-fooder. A element of misconception is also another problem that the image also creates, essentially the image can be considered a misleading piece of marketing, the product that is being advertised is not a sustainable and accurate reflection of the item that is actually being sold to consumers. Misconception and misleading products that are being sold through advertising such as the burger shown above in the image can lead to the consumer idolising something that doesn’t exist through the digital-development of the aesthetic of the photographed image, the problem here is that reality can not keep up with idolised fantasy triggering a emotional response of disappointment, for those that are fast-food addicts that buy into a unhealthy lifestyle that is glamorised in such a way this can detrimental to there health and wellbeing.

Summarised points:

– Glamorisation and disappointment

– Misconception and misleading advertising

– Reality vs fantasy – The huge distance between the two

– Negative emotional response and loose of self worth


Photo manipulation has been around for years on end well before digital the birth of digital photography, this is a iconic portrait of U.S President Abraham Lincoln, however it is actually a composite of Lincoln’s head and the Southern politician John Calhoun’s body. The image has been manipulated during the process of lithography in the dark room. It is evident that photo manipulation dates back.



Looking at these two images from a broader perspective it is evident that this idea of photographic truth and ethics has been an issue since the birth of photography, in this particular image the head of the president has been used however the body seems to be of someone completely different. Unlike using digital software after taking the image this image was manipulated during the dark-room lithography printing process (based on the principal that water and oil does not mix). Without a doubt this image must have caused controversy, the problem with manipulation of this sort is that it has a domino effect on the development and evolution of photography. It has become more and more apparent that images are being tampered with earlier and earlier in the photograph process. Other problems with this particular historical image that has been manipulated is that it skews and dissolves the accuracy and reflection of history and the past thus giving us a diluted and dissolved representation of life in that era!



..talin was notorious for routinely airbrushing his enemies out of photographs. As people fell out of favor with Stalin, so to did their photographic identity. In this image we see a comissar removed after falling out of Stalin’s good graces.”


Airbrushing has been used here to completely wipe out a figure from the image, yet again another example of the distortion of history being one of the main problems created here due to photo-manipulation.


time1 time2

”When a darkened mugshot of troubled football star appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine, it was deemed artistic interpretation. Critics accused the mag of blackening OJ Simpson’s skin to make him appear more animalistic and incite racial sentiments. It didn’t help that an unaltered photo of Simpson appeared on a Newsweek cover that same week.”


Looking at the two images above on being the original image taken as a mugshot of OJ Simpson and the other being the manipulated cover photo in the Times magazine we are able to identify that the altering of the colour tone and the downlighting used on the magazine cover image has raised concerns of creating a ‘animalistic nature’ to the image. Essentially photo manipulation has been used here in negative manner causing concern and raising the problem/issue of racial discrimination. This image is a perfect example of advertisers and editorial companies skewing the true nature of a image/photograph and manipulation the original  photograph to influence the news/information and creating a bias persecutive/ point of view. Essentially the alterations made in the second image show changes to various things such as lighting, colour tone (in the skin) and contrast indict that photo manipulation can cause the problem of racial discrimination, such small tools used in Photoshop can cause massive issues such as racism within society the power of just adjusting a photograph can lead to worldwide political and racial issues.



”A before-and-after image from Britney Spears’ 2013 “Work B****” music video obtained by the Daily Mail, which shows the digital slim-down Britney’s body received via CGI. ”





As we can see this a typical example of altering images to portray a celebrity to be slimmer and to be portrayed in a manner that is deemed ‘perfect’ on a advert or magazine cover. Problems with images like this one above is that it is not a realistic depiction of a female figure in society, the image bass been edited here to make Brittany Spears look slimmer than what she is in reality, for her pores and completion of her skin to look flawless and to be postioned in a sexualised manner. All of the attributes mentioned above go against the normal average figure female woman. Problems created by images like this include the glamourisation of the female figure in a unrealistic manner. The distortion of reality is created for the consumer and audience and this can have a negative effect on females and teenage girls in society today, the misrepresentation of the beauty of the average female can influence this population to want to idolise these figures/celebrities and become like them. Essentially leading to teenage girls and females becoming unhealthy. Other problems with images like this is that the more and more perfect advertisers make female figures look like this the more competition they have with competitors and other advertisers, the standard/ bar is then rises and creates future adverts like this one to become increasingly unrealistic (a domino effect).