Errol Morris’ article raises several questions on the ideology around photography and the moral and ethical issues within this ideology. What we believe to be false depends on what we believe to be true. According to Hany Fanid, a photograph supplies visual information that the human brain processes differently than textual information. Because of this, we associate certain emotions and memories with photographs, while simultaneously perceiving them as true. Despite our awareness of Photoshop and photographic manipulations, we still consider photographs as an accurate representation of what is seen. But that is exactly the problem. It is a representation, not personal observation.
The image of the four Iranian missiles as published in many national newspapers has been singled out for the photoshop addition of a fourth missile. However, we cannot be sure that even the “original” photograph of the 3 missiles is true in itself. I think Morris makes a great point in his conversation with Charles Johnson that this photograph, doctored or not, presents an Iranian military threat. This message is conveyed from the photograph and additional journalism accounts whether it was manipulated or not.
Photography in journalism always contains an element of subjectivity. We are shown what they want us to see, to adequately get a specific message across to the public. This becomes a question of ethics and validity in photojournalism. I can say that photography is always subjective and this fact is especially evident in its use for media purposes. It is important to understand the bias of major newspapers and media sources, including its associated photography. We cannot forget the propaganda of the wars throughout our history.
Just because we can see it with our eyes, does not mean it is true.