The camera never lies? And does it necessarily matter if it does?

This article examines the use of photography and film to produce striking images of war. Many well-known images of war are ‘fakes’ or fabricated – but this does not necessarily mean that they are worthless.

Some of the most stunning images that official Australian photographer, Frank Hurley, took on the Western Front in 1917 are composites of several negatives. These tableaux of battle are among the most beautiful and terrible depictions of fighting in World War I, but they are more akin to the work of a war artist than that of a photo-journalist.

Frank Hurley’s composite “Over the Top” (1918)

Some re-created footage has been used so often over the years in films, news reports and documentaries – without it being made clear that it is fabricated – that people believe that it is real. Such re-creation has become fake by misuse. An example of this is the landing at Gallipoli — there is no film of this, but a re-creation shot near Bondi Beach, Sydney, a few weeks after the landing, is often assumed by people to be real footage.

Governments have used fakery to encourage recruitment – this is something I find repugnant.

There are many examples in this article – a very interesting read.


Thanks go to FENIAN for sparking my interest after seeing Frank Hurley, “the mad photographer” on his page.