How Many Conflict Photos Are Staged

Italian photojournalist Ruben Salvadori turns his camera on a previously unseen element in conflict zones — the photographer him/herself. Frequently, conflict participants (who by this point know what the photographers are looking for) pose and act out scenes to create the desired shots. Via PetaPixel:

Here’s a fascinating video in which Salvadori demonstrates how dishonest many conflict photographs are. Salvadori spent time in East Jerusalem, studying the role photojournalists play in what the world sees. He shows how photojournalists often influence the events they’re supposed to document objectively, and how photographers are often pushed to seek and create drama even in situations that lack it.

You might start looking at conflict photos in the news a lot differently after watching this.

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  • Drinky McGee

    It’s as old as the American Civil War.  Here’s a link to a gallery of hoaxed photos that contains some staged conflict shots.

    http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/photo_database

  • Drinky McGee

    It’s as old as the American Civil War.  Here’s a link to a gallery of hoaxed photos that contains some staged conflict shots.

    http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/photo_database

  • Anonymous

    Ruben Salvadori obviously has a point but his message would be stronger if he wasn’t known to be pro-Israel and if he showed examples from various conflicts instead of singling out Muslims.

    Furthermore, can you actually blame street activists who have been so disenfranchised that their only power left is their photogenetic appeal to a drama-hungry press?

  • Tchoutoye

    Ruben Salvadori obviously has a point but his message would be stronger if he wasn’t known to be pro-Israel and if he showed examples from various conflicts instead of singling out Muslims.

    Furthermore, can you actually blame street activists who have been so disenfranchised that their only power left is their photogenetic appeal to a drama-hungry press?

    • SF2K01

      It’s not as if he’s saying that they’re the only ones staging conflict photos, but as of right now they do it a heck of a lot more than almost anyone else, but in their culture the fact that it might be staged is less relevant than the message they’re trying to get across. We have a problem with it because of how we view staging, but if they don’t view it as problematic it becomes a cultural divide. It’s not as if they take down altered photos, they keep distributing them even after such a reveal where western media generally removed the photos with apologies after finding out they weren’t authentic.

      You don’t even need to talk about conflict staging to see this. Just look at the massive photoshopping being done in the Arab Media. Disenfranchisement has nothing to do with this. It’s not about who tells the truth or who lies, the Arab public doesn’t care about that, but who gets the most people to listen to them and gets more respect. It’s not a western cultural viewpoint at all.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not as if he’s saying that they’re the only ones staging conflict photos, but as of right now they do it a heck of a lot more than almost anyone else, but in their culture the fact that it might be staged is less relevant than the message they’re trying to get across. We have a problem with it because of how we view staging, but if they don’t view it as problematic it becomes a cultural divide. It’s not as if they take down altered photos, they keep distributing them even after such a reveal where western media generally removed the photos with apologies after finding out they weren’t authentic.

    You don’t even need to talk about conflict staging to see this. Just look at the massive photoshopping being done in the Arab Media. Disenfranchisement has nothing to do with this. It’s not about who tells the truth or who lies, the Arab public doesn’t care about that, but who gets the most people to listen to them and gets more respect. It’s not a western cultural viewpoint at all.

  • JosephStalin

    Interesting, but I really believe, basically the cameras as such play little or no meaning to any protest, unless the protesters and soldier or police are all stupid fools. With the invention of the cell phones, almost everyone has video and audio abilities, it is a tool to document any violence that may occur, it is used to very good effect in the OWS movement now, for the purpose of holding on to one’s remaining rights as an individual. Of course they should be used by the protestors for their advantage everywhere, the Greek problem, Egypt, Syria and of course OWS.

  • JosephStalin

    Interesting, but I really believe, basically the cameras as such play little or no meaning to any protest, unless the protesters and soldier or police are all stupid fools. With the invention of the cell phones, almost everyone has video and audio abilities, it is a tool to document any violence that may occur, it is used to very good effect in the OWS movement now, for the purpose of holding on to one’s remaining rights as an individual. Of course they should be used by the protestors for their advantage everywhere, the Greek problem, Egypt, Syria and of course OWS.

  • Calypso

    Perhaps even more relevant is how many conflicts are staged or at least stage managed between actors at a very high level.  When nations need to divert the attention of their populace from internal issues the war card is the fastest route to public support because it projects fear and pride onto symbols of political leadership; empowering governments to act on ‘behalf’ of their nations against bogeymen and not into progressive social development.  Strongmen hawks readily send the flower of youth into the meat grinder of war – destroying potential competition with full state honors.  This is no different than lower species casting out their males or with cults with collectivist wives that vanquish young male competition.  It is the same dynamic, except that it transforms the blood of youth into patriotism.; All the while allowing the general public to remain docile, subjugated but fearful and loud enough to clamor their support for continued atrocities.
    True, media manipulation undoubtedly occurs at the level of the street, but it is nothing compared to what occurs at the level of the editing room or in the propaganda factories that masquerade as public affairs offices and their associated ‘public relations’ consultancies.

  • Calypso_1

    Perhaps even more relevant is how many conflicts are staged or at least stage managed between actors at a very high level.  When nations need to divert the attention of their populace from internal issues the war card is the fastest route to public support because it projects fear and pride onto symbols of political leadership; empowering governments to act on ‘behalf’ of their nations against bogeymen and not into progressive social development.  Strongmen hawks readily send the flower of youth into the meat grinder of war – destroying potential competition with full state honors.  This is no different than lower species casting out their males or with cults with collectivist wives that vanquish young male competition.  It is the same dynamic, except that it transforms the blood of youth into patriotism.; All the while allowing the general public to remain docile, subjugated but fearful and loud enough to clamor their support for continued atrocities.
    True, media manipulation undoubtedly occurs at the level of the street, but it is nothing compared to what occurs at the level of the editing room or in the propaganda factories that masquerade as public affairs offices and their associated ‘public relations’ consultancies.