This lesson aims to introduce students to the concept of misleading images, and to try and engender in students a certain skepticism when interacting with media. This lesson could potentially be used in a range of subjects including ICT, Media, History, Theory of Knowledge, PSHE/Pastoral etc.
In the past this has proven to be one of those lessons that really gets students sitting up, listening and discussing, as most of them have no idea they are being constantly manipulated by the mass media.
In general we trust photos in a way that we would never trust words: we know that photos can be faked, but we don’t usually question what we see in the media and on the Internet. Let’s use some fun examples to see what we can and cannot trust:
The resources below look at how photos can be misleading, either through doctoring, creative photography or omission. Digital photography and computer technology make this process much easier and more powerful, but it is important to keep in mind that these exact issues have been relevant since the dawn of the photographic era.
Of particular interest is the process by which images are “photoshopped” (i.e. digitally manipulated), and just how much transformation is possible. The videos below give an insight into this process (they are accelerated, it really takes much longer to do this, and lots of skill too).
We can look at the impact of misleading photos from different perspectives, including:
- Political – what might a country gain by manipulating photos of its enemy at war?
- Individual – how does unrealistically attractive portraits in magazines make me feel?
- Society – how have misleading photos changed our expectations and measures of beauty?
In the end, how do we know what to trust if we cannot trust what we see?