Photographic Manipulation and Photographic Deception

Zsolt Batori


I consider how photographic image manipulation and deception influence both interpretation and evaluation of photographs. First I distinguish between image manipulation and deception by clarifying that image manipulation does not necessarily lead to deception in terms of forming false beliefs. I also argue that image manipulation is not the only way of using photographs deceptively, and I provide examples for photographic deception that do not rely on image manipulation. Then I examine what role the readability of photographic properties (including if and how they have been manipulated) plays in their interpretation. I introduce the concept of photographic illocutionary acts to account for the interpretation of photographic images, and I argue that the default interpretation of photographs is always based on our knowledge of the specific ontological and epistemic status of photographs in general, and which distinguishes them from non-photographic images. I conclude that our knowledge about the ease and frequency of analogue or digital image manipulation does not alter our default interpretation with which we approach photographs.


photography; manipulation; deception; photographic illocutionary acts; readability

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