Ten famous pictures manipulated

Usually, when we look at the pictures from the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, we don’t normally contest its authenticity. We automatically think that they are real. But, it proves to be wrong. Even at those times, the masters of photo manipulation were able to erase an “unnecessary” person or to add one. You will also see some modern pictures that were manipulated by the media. It is also interesting to see that the media want us to see only things that arrange them.

Civil War Generals, c. 1865
Generally regarded as the world's first commercially successful photojournalist, Matthew Brady was also one of the medium's most accomplished manipulators. In this group portrait of William Tecumseh Sherman and his top officers, he added one figure. For the record, the men are, standing, from left: Oliver Otis Howard, William Babcock Hazen, Jefferson Columbus Davis and Joseph Anthony Mower; seated, from left: John Alexander Logan, Sherman, Henry Warner Slocum and Francis P. Blair.

The Original Image
Brady added Blair at the far right. One of Sherman's corps commanders in the critical final offensive in Georgia, Blair led the XVII Corps, which protected the rear of Sherman's army during the Atlanta campaign. Like the other men in the photo, he played an important role in the March to the Sea, helping deliver one of the final blows to the Confederate cause.

Lenin Addresses the Troops, 1920
One of the most widely reproduced scenes of the Russian Revolution, this photograph was taken by G.P. Goldshtein and was published in myriad forms during the Soviet era. The moment captures Lenin exhorting soldiers from the Red Army as they prepare to depart for the Polish front, where they would fight the troops of Josef Pilsudski.

The Original Scene
Taken within seconds of the preceding photo, this frame reveals that Lenin was joined that day by fellow Central Committee members Leon Trotsky, who stands in hat and mustache on the stairs to the right of the podium, and Lev Kamenev, who stands behind him. Perceived by Stalin as rivals to his power, both men were ultimately purged and their contributions to the revolution largely eliminated from the historical record. Though the photograph was widely published with the two men present during the 1920s, it was reproduced with stairs in their place for most of the Soviet era, even during the Gorbachev period.

Hitler Meets with Leni Riefenstahl, 1937
The Nazi filmmaker, center, is visited by the Führer in Berlin. They are joined by, at far left, her brother Heinz, and at far right, his wife Ilse. Note the ghostly outline next to Ilse in the middle right of the frame.

The Original Image
The missing figure turns out to be none other than Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich's top propagandist and one of the architects of the Holocaust. It remains a mystery why Hitler had his loyal colleague erased from this photo; shortly after it was taken, history notes, Goebbels' standing with the Führer suffered a critical blow as Hitler became aware of his lieutenant's affair with an actress.

Kent State, 1970
Fourteen-year-old Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of Jeffrey Miller, a student at the university who was killed by National Guardsmen during a protest against the war in Vietnam. This Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph, taken by photojournalism student John Filo, became an icon of the tumultuous period.

The Original Image
For all its drama, the Kent State photo violated one of the cardinal rules of photographic composition: the fence post in the field behind Vecchio terminates at the top of her head, almost as if a giant nail has fallen into her skull. When the image was published in Life magazine that week, the editors opted to remove it.

The Beatles' Abbey Road Poster
Though it is true that this rectangular poster celebrating the Beatles' second-to-last release is cropped differently than the original square LP cover, it features one additional, more significant alteration of the original (and it's not Paul McCartney's lack of footwear).

The Original Artwork
Some American publishers decided to remove the cigarette from Paul's right hand without getting permission from him or Apple Records, which owns the right to the image. Said an Apple spokesman: "It seems these poster companies got a little carried away."

TV Guide's Oprah Winfrey Cover, 1989
This cover story about the daytime talk-show host contains a pair of extreme manipulations. The first, of course, is the pile of money she sits on.

The Original Image
Remarkably, Oprah's head has been spliced onto the body of glam actress Ann-Margaret. The manipulation was immediately detected by Ann-Margaret's fashion designer Bob Mackie, who created the gown.

Newsweek's Martha Stewart Cover, 2005
For a story about Martha Stewart's rosy career prospects upon her release from prison, the editors of Newsweek ran this digital composite, credited to Michael Elins, of Stewart's head on the body of a model.

The Original Image
Taken at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Awards nine months before Newsweek's story was published, the original shot captures the queen of domesticity in a strangely unflattering white coat. To compound matters, the editors credited the head shot to Marc Bryan-Brown, when it was in fact taken by veteran paparazzo Ron Galella.

Iranian Missile Test, 2008
Many major newspapers ran this image, released by Sepah News, a media outlet associated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard, that shows the test firing of a Shahab-3 missile. The high-speed ballistic missile was said to be capable of traveling 2,000 km, thereby putting Iran within striking range of Israel.

The Original Image
In order to conceal that the second missile from the right had not fired, somewhere in the editorial process it was decided that it would be better to paste a successful launch in its place.

Kim Jong Il and North Korean Troops, c. 2009
Western observers of the PRK have long suspected that the photographs released by KCNA, North Korea's official news agency, are routinely manipulated to portray leader Kim Jong Il in the best possible light. This group photo, released in the wake of rumors that Kim had suffered a stroke, was closely scrutinized for inconsistencies. It purports to show him in the company of an honored regiment.

Close-Up of the Original
Analysts zeroed in on this area of the photograph, where portions of the reviewing stand can be seen in, while the quality of the wood or metal also seems to differ, suggesting that Kim was inserted into the photo after the fact.

Benjamin Netanyahu and His Cabinet, 2009
The Israeli newspaper Yated Neeman published this version of a group photo of Netanyahu, the country's newly elected Prime Minister, front left, with President Shimon Peres, front right, and members of Netanyahu's new government.

The Original Image
An unaltered version of the photo reveals that the newspaper has replaced the two female Cabinet members, Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver, with men's faces. The faces belong to ministers Ariel Atias and Moshe Kachlon, who in the original photograph can be seen toward the periphery of the group (standing, second from left and second from right). In Yated Neeman's version of the image, they have been cropped out. Much of the newspaper's readership consists of ultra-Orthodox readers who do not think it proper for women to serve in the government.

Subscribe to receive free email updates: