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testimonies serve to confirm what all photographers already know in their
hearts - but sometimes choose to ignore - about the veracity and impact
of the documentary photograph. The "boot boys" were recognised
not just by their families and friends but also by their workmates and
acquaintances. Publication of the picture altered the quality of their
lives for many days and in many ways. Don't tell these lads that reportage
is dead. They know only too well how it lives.
It is clear that, had I deliberately misrepresented these men by using the seamless montage afforded us by computers to add information to the picture (a mutilated domestic cat, say, swinging by its tail from a waistband; a meat cleaver placed in a hand; some splatters of blood on clothing), then the damage caused in this small community to each of them would have been considerable.
Wide appreciation of the seamless artifice enabled by digital imaging techniques creates many problems for the documentary photographer, but none is greater than the need to be truthful. As Lewis Hine, the great American photographer and campaigner said all those years ago:
and I know that this undoubted faith in the integrity of the photograph
is often rudely shaken; for while photographs may not lie, liars may
photograph. It becomes necessary, then, in our revelation of the truth,
to see to it that the camera we depend on contracts no bad habits."
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