Fake Images

Posted on 6/27/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

When I got into photography one of the strengths of the profession was that what a viewer saw in a picture really happened. When a reporter wrote a story the reader often could not be sure that what was described was an accurate reflection of the truth. The photograph provided a level of truth. The viewer knew that what they were seeing really happened. The photograph may have been out of context with the general tenor of the overall event, but at least it was an accurate reflection of what was happening in the instant it was created.

Get the Full Article (2 Credits)

Have an Account?

Access to this site is an exclusive benefit for you. Enter your username and password in the form above. If you don't remember your password you can reset it at any time.

Forgot your password?

New to Selling Stock?

Selling Stock is an on-line newsletter that reports on developing trends in the stock photo industry. It is updated at least twice a month. On-line subscribers receive e-mail notification whenever new stories are posted. Archives containing stories going back to late 1995 are fully available to subscribers.

Copyright © 2019 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Paul Melcher Posted Jul 5, 2019
    Jim hi,

    Thank you for mentioning my entry on fake images and video in Selling Stock. Since you took aim at my thoughts, let me reply to the comments you made.

    First and foremost, it is a misconception that film was some kind of guarantee against fake images. Pretty much a soon as photography was invented, they were manipulated images. There are numerous famous cases, from the fake fairies to the Bolshevik party which confirms it. It is effortless to make alterations to film photography, whether it is in pre-production, like hiring models to create a scene that never existed to production, using double exposure, to post-production, by manipulating exposure of the print. For film, instead of photoshopping, it was called airbrushing.

    You mention some solutions to identify the source of an image, none of which I suggested. For a good reason: as you noticed, none are viable. The point of my entry was exactly the opposite. Seeking a solution not based on technology but instead on human behavior.

    What I suggest has been in practice for a long while with proven success. News images are frequently publicly credited with the name of the creator and its distributor. While it serves the purpose of publicizing the image for commercial reason, it also doubles as identification of the original source. We all know that an image from AP can be trusted, while one from RT might not. As well, an image credited Shutterstock or Adobe stock should be doubted as it most certainly has been altered by its creator. Stock photography has been and is still the most fertile source of fake images.

    If the practice of publicly crediting photographs and video is commodified, then fake images and videos will stand out. They will simply have either untrustworthy or no credit — no need for technology, just common sense.

    Technology can easily track false credits, if necessary. Invisible watermarking or distributed ledgers ( think blockchain) used by reputable companies (like AP or Reuters) can immediately spot legitimate images. Those services are already available via companies like Imatag ( for invisible watermarking) or TruePic ( for blockchain). As an extra level of protection, cameras manufacturers could create those beacon of truth at the creation of the image.

    My point here is that fake images or videos can be defeated not by technology but by accountability via traceability.

    Hope this clarify my point.


    ~ Paul M

Post Comment

You must log in to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive our FREE weekly email listing new stories posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff