A Picture is Not Always What It Seems

The controversy over the Asbury Park Press photo illustration on the Governor Corzine’s asset monetization plan reminded me that even an unaltered photo can lead to debate.

This photo, taken in Beirut in 2006, earned photographer Spencer Platt the 2006 Photo of the Year 2006 award from World Press Photo for capturing “the complexity and contradiction of real life, amidst chaos.” Indeed, the Getty Images caption that accompanied photo read: “Affluent Lebanese drive down the street to look at a destroyed neighborhood Aug. 15, 2006, in southern Beirut, Lebanon.”

It turned out, however, that the young women were not “disaster tourists” whose dress and demeanor was out of place. Instead, they were residents of the area returning to their neighborhood after it was bombed.

To learn more about their story, read World Press Photo Mix-Up. To hear photographer Spencer Platt comments on the issue, visit Award-Winning Photo Draws Criticism for Subjects on NPR.

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