Manipulating Your Emotions With Photography

I have always been fascinated with how the media uses photography to set the tone of a story and communicate their beliefs. It is amazing how a change in angle can cause a different emotional reaction. In the example below, we see two photos from a recent meeting between the British Prime Minister, and Putin, the Russian President.

In the example above, the photo on the left is taken from a British news outlet. They have maximised Cameron's height advantage (6' 1" versus 5' 7") and made it appear that he is towering over Putin, backed with the British flag behind him, leading us forward against Russia. In contrast, the photo on the right is from Libyan news. The exact opposite positioning has been used, and Putin now appears to have grown more than the 4 inch difference.

This problem isn't a new phenomena. When explorers first travelled down through Africa, they carried with them the belief that white people were superior, and had always reigned supreme; the original race. What they discovered was a fossil record that questioned that belief. Without cameras they had to draw what they found, and that flexibility was too tempting. The images that were sent back to England were of skulls tilted forward and lit from above, giving the impression or a large, prominent brow and exaggerating ape-like features. Their argument was that 'these people' were not like the white people, this was a less-evolved species.

Anthropologists now use a standard scientific method when photographing or drawing skulls based on a concept developed by Dr. Lucae, which involves placing a a plate of glass over the object to ensure the profile is always perpendicular to the subject. This practise removed the ability to manipulate an image, all skulls became directly comparable.

Unfortunately, the news does not follow a scientific method, and so as a reader you must understand that manipulation takes place. To read a story from a single point of view is a mistake.

For another example, check out this article by Eric Stern about the 'Fox News Lie Machine'.

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/18/inside_the_fox_news_lie_machine_i_fact_checked_sean_hannity_on_obamacare/