Does a photograph always capture the truth?

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  1. Anna Haven profile image83
    Anna Havenposted 5 years ago

    Does a photograph always capture the truth?

    When you see a photograph of a certain person whom you know is very unhappy and they are wildly smiling.  Does only the captured smiling snapshot show in the photograph or is the real truth visible in the eyes? In essence - does the camera capture the real truth?

  2. profile image0
    Michael Thielposted 5 years ago

    Through the example you give I believe two things may happen.

    First, the photographer may be able to connect with that person to discover and unlock emotions which the rest of the world may rarely see.

    Second, the person may be putting up a façade.  I believe such a false expression would be visible in the eyes as well as the body language of the face.

    Finally, a photograph captures a moment viewed through someone else's interpretation.  We all interpret moments differently.  Therefore, the truth in a photograph is always a compromise between reality, emotion, and the photographer’s interaction and involvement with the subject.

  3. RTalloni profile image91
    RTalloniposted 5 years ago

    Absolutely not. While the camera may capture a sadness in a smiling person's eyes, it also may not. A photograph has no power to explain itself.  Even a photograph of a grieving person may not tell the real story of that person's grief, though it may very well touch the heartstrings of viewers. 

    Anyone can take any photo and give it an explanation that may or may not have even an element of truth in it.  Check out the following link: … retouched/
    and even selfless are now no exception: … rfect.html

    Portraying images as they are not has become a passion and reflects the unrealistic expectations of today's culture. The resins behind the whole business explains much of the dissatisfaction people have in life.  However, boocoodles of money has been made by opportunists promoting someone else's idea of perfectness.

    On another note, a photo can allow someone to tell a story that is not true.  Think of natural disasters.  The pictures portray devastating loss with survivors in need, but what are the realities?  Cities opened their doors to the needy, but the stories of how too many of those needy people destroyed property, preyed even on each other, and committed crimes were a blip on the news media's radar, if that. 

    No, photographs, like all things, should be proven.

  4. dashingscorpio profile image87
    dashingscorpioposted 5 years ago

    Photos only capture one dimension of a person or location. You could take a tight shot of an area that looks beautiful however if you took a wider shot of the whole area it may reveal it's located in a dilapidated area.
    People oftentimes are able to mask their emotions when photos are taking. Someone could be contemplating divorce while smiling in the moment with their spouse for the camera. Later we look at the photo after knowing what they were going through and we view their eyes or smile with a "newfound" perception. The photo did not change but we changed how we looked at it.

  5. lostohanababy profile image57
    lostohanababyposted 5 years ago

    If truth is 'found' in the photograph at the time it is taken.   Photography is still depended on in 'crime investigation'.   And it can be helpful with connection to 'survellience' equipment, can help a home owner or a business owner to give evidence to the police, on who or when, their places broken into.

  6. bravewarrior profile image92
    bravewarriorposted 5 years ago

    Interesting question, Anna. As far as I'm concerned the eyes don't lie. We can put on a smile when we're feeling blue, but the eyes don't lie.

    For instance, when I'm happy my eyes are bright blue. When I'm blue, they're gray. Not only the eye color is indicative of what's really going on with a person, but the shape and tone. Crying eyes have a mind all their own.

  7. DzyMsLizzy profile image96
    DzyMsLizzyposted 5 years ago

    The truth or falsity in a photograph is much in the hands of the photographer.  Even without using editing software to alter the image as the camera captured the scene, it is very easy to "lie" with a picture.
    Take a look at this for a perfect example: … appointed/

  8. profile image0
    Larry Wallposted 5 years ago

    A photograph captures a moment in time. Sometimes that one moment can tell the whole story. Sometimes it can be misleading.

    For example, the classic picture from the Vietnam era of the young girl running down the road after being burned tells one story.

    Now take the case of a man in a boat pulling his son on water skis and all is well.
    Next moment, or next frame, the rope breaks and the skier crashes into the pier. Two pictures, two moments and two different stories.

    My profile picture is cropped from a picture of my wife, my son and me. Look like a normal, happy family. The picture of my son does not show the impacts a near fatal car accident had on him as a passenger. It does not tell you he is legally blind.

    Some pictures need no explanation. Most usually do.

  9. profile image0
    Astari Sarosaposted 4 years ago

    In many cases no, photographs show a certain image in a specific time. Especially if it's a photograph of a person. People fake their emotions in photographs all the time. But, it can absolutely capture the truth. You can see it in candid pictures.

  10. tom yam profile image61
    tom yamposted 4 years ago

    Sometimes it does. But as a photographer myself i know how often shots are "set up". This is done by moving things in or out of the shot to give the scene a positive or negative effect. Instructions given to people on how and where to stand/pose are often to convey the idea that is in the photographers mind. Photography is, after all, an artform with the person behind the lens playing the part of the artist and arrangeing subject matter is all part of the artistry.
                                            Of course, there is also a duty on the beholder to decide for themselves what they are actually seeing in an image.

  11. LauraTallo profile image68
    LauraTalloposted 22 months ago

    You have two eyes. The camera has one (the lens). The camera does what the photographer programs it to do.  It does not see or interpret as your brain does.  If you capture someone photojournalistically (shooting without coaching- just capturing the moment) then, you might catch someone laughing and not see the pain in their eyes. However, if you pose someone, and tell them to smile- then, if they look directly into the camera, you can capture micro-expessions and pain in their eyes.

    In this photo my brother told me that he didn't have much longer to live. He refused to go to a doctor. I told him, "Then let me get a shot of you because you know that I am going to need it." I snapped the shot, hugged him and cried. Does he look like a man that is about to die? He did die about 6 months later.

    So, the "truth" cannot always be caught in a millisecond. Think of how fast a shutter can snap. If I shoot 1/125 that is 1/125 of a second. That is fast, and there are faster speeds. So, photos tell what happened in that moment. That little moment is frozen in time, and we have no idea what the subject is thinking. We can only read facial expressions and assume. The real truth lies within the subjects' head and heart.

  12. JohnPLyons profile image92
    JohnPLyonsposted 21 months ago

    Rarely in my case, when photographing for advertising.

    The nature of commercial photography is to make the best light shine on your client business...not necessarily the truth.


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