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FAKING IT: MANIPULATED PHOTOGRAPHY BEFORE PHOTOSHOP
Reviewed by
David Robert
on
FAKING IT: MANIPULATED PHOTOGRAPHY BEFORE PHOTOSHOP Review. A helpful Glossary of Technical Terms is also included (anyone else inclined to forget the difference between an ambrotype and a daguerreotype?) as well as a fabulous Introduction which sums up in a mere 40 pages all that is great and lasting about the art of photography. 
Rating:
5.0
FAKING IT: MANIPULATED PHOTOGRAPHY BEFORE PHOTOSHOP
Mia Fineman
 

Review Information

Reviewer: David Robert
Review Date: Oct 2012

Book Information

Publisher: InBooks
RRP: $79.95

10

out of 10

‘I would photograph an idea rather than an object, and a dream rather than an idea.’ - Man Ray 

It is tempting, living as we do in an age of blatant photographic falsehood, to consider the art of photographic manipulation a relatively recent phenomenon.  Celebrities are airbrushed to the point of absurdity, thighs and waistlines are routinely trimmed to impossible dimensions and blemish-free, preternaturally youthful faces stare from magazine covers - oh, for the days when a photograph could be trusted to provide nothing more than a direct, unadulterated representation of the real. 

As Mia Fineman points out in this superlative new work, however, the art of photographic trickery is actually every bit as old as the medium itself.  Since the 1840s amateur and professional photographers alike have been fastidiously cropping and retouching their images, producing elaborate composites artfully designed to fool the eye, adding and excising characters from shots, utilising multiple exposure and other means to capture scenes that would otherwise be technically and logistically impossible, making wrinkles and imperfections disappear - in short, for a century and a half photographers the world over have been routinely and expertly employing the sort of visual sleight of hand that has come to be associated almost exclusively with the digital age.  

The question of motivation - political, aesthetic, financial or otherwise - comprises much of Fineman’s brilliant 250-page narrative, which is adorned with hundreds of colour and black and white images.  Almost every photograph referenced in the text is reproduced, in fact, with many of them amongst the most important works from masters such as Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Yves Klein, Grete Stern and Edward Steichen.  Fineman’s history of manipulated photography is breathtaking in its expansive scope.  Her wide-ranging arguments incorporate discussion of technique, the various photographic schools, censorship, duelling philosophies on the nature of photographic ‘purity,’ the use of manipulated photography in wartime propaganda and the falsification of images in regimes such as that of Stalinist Russia, where murdered ‘enemies of the people’ were expunged from the photographic record in an effort to remove any physical trace of their existence. 

In addition to seven sizable and immersive chapters the book also contains a couple of hugely worthwhile addendums, principal among which is a 50-page section entitled ‘Discussions of Individual Works’ which incorporates analysis of every major work represented in the text.  A helpful Glossary of Technical Terms is also included (anyone else inclined to forget the difference between an ambrotype and a daguerreotype?) as well as a fabulous Introduction which sums up in a mere 40 pages all that is great and lasting about the art of photography. 

As this impeccable work emphatically proves, the camera can and frequently does lie.  The story of how and why it does so comprises one of the most fascinating titles to ever be produced on the subject of photography, and another virtuosic entry into the ever-burgeoning InBooks canon.






 
 



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