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The Hoax Photo Archive — Photo Fakery Throughout History
Category: Striking a Pose
The Fake General Dunwoody. (November 2008) When Ann Dunwoody became the first four-star general in the American military, the Army released a doctored photo of her to the media. More…
U.S. Army Releases Doctored Photographs. (September 2008) Lacking an official photo of a deceased soldier, the U.S. Army instead released a doctored image to the media. More…
Sarah Palin in Bikini. (September 2008) After John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, provocative fake pictures of the Alaska Governor began to circulate online. More…
A Whiter Beyonce. (August 2008) Critics accused L'Oreal of lightening Beyonce's skin color in this advertisement for its cosmetics. More…
Vote for Dean Hrbacek. (January 2008) In this flyer distributed by Hrbacek's campaign, the candidate's head was pasted onto the body of a significantly slimmer man. More…
Katie Couric Slimmed Down. (September 2006) A digitally slimmed down version of Katie Couric appeared in CBS's Watch magazine. More…
Holiday Greetings, from Spain’s Royal Family. (December 2005) Unable to gather for a photo shoot, the Spanish royal family instead digitally assembled for its Christmas holiday photo. More…
Migrant Mother Makeover. (April 2005 issue of Popular Photography) Popular Photography's readers were outraged when the magazine ran a feature on how Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother photo could be improved. More…
Louis Vuitton Designer SARS Mask. (April 2003) The fashion designer never actually included a SARS mask in any of its collections. More…
Kate Winslet’s Legs. (February 2003) Kate Winslet complained that photo editors made her look too skinny on this GQ cover. More…
Mid-Island Fish. (July 29, 2002.) This ad was supposed to express support for Long Island, New York businesses, but viewers noticed it showed a Seattle fishmarket. More…
Tourist Guy. (Circulating online since September 2001.) Created by a Hungarian man as a bit of dark humor to share with his friends, this photo became one of the most widely viewed images online in the weeks after 9/11. More…
Snowball the Monster Cat. (Circulating online since early 2000) Cordell Hauglie never anticipated that this picture of him holding a digitally enlarged version of his family cat would become one of the most popular images on the internet. More…
Tootsie Redressed. (Mar 1997 issue of Los Angeles magazine) Dustin Hoffman sued Los Angeles magazine for $5 million on account of this photo of his head pasted onto the body of a model wearing a silk gown. More…
O.J.‘s Darkened Mug Shot. (June 27, 1994) When Time magazine used a mug shot of O.J. Simpson on its June 27th cover (left), it darkened the photo and reduced the size of the prisoner ID number. However, Newsweek ran the same mug shot on its cover (right) that week, without altering it. The two covers appeared side-by-side on newsstands, making Time's decision to darken the photo far more visible. Critics charged Time with racism. More…
White Hot Mama. (July 1992) Ann Richards, governor of Texas, appeared on the cover of Texas Monthly in a "Bad Girl" pose astride a white-and-chrome Harley-Davidson. But Richards hadn't posed for the photo because she was unable to schedule time for a photoshoot. Texas Monthly created the shot by combining a stock photo of her head with a picture of a model. Richards later said that she loved the photo. More…
Missing in Action. (July, 1991) The photo made headlines when it surfaced in July 1991. It appeared to show three American fliers, who had been listed as missing during the Vietnam War, holding a sign with the date 25-5-90. The implication was that the men were still alive somewhere in south-east Asia. But a Pentagon investigation discovered it was actually a doctored version of a 1923 photograph of three Soviet farmers. More…
Madonna’s Gapless Glamour. (December 1990) Madonna got mad when she discovered a photo editor had digitally closed the gap between her front teeth. More…
Oprah’s Head Transplant. (August 26, 1989) Oprah Winfrey appeared on the cover of TV Guide (left) lounging in a gauzy dress on top of a pile of money. She looked glamorous, but only the head belonged to her. The body came from a 1979 publicity shot of Ann-Margret (right) taken for a Rockette special. More…
The Vanishing Belly Button, 1964. (February 1964) Scandinavian Airlines placed an advertisement in newspapers throughout America. It featured a bikini-clad model posing on a rock above the caption "What to show your wife in Scandinavia." But the version that appeared in the Los Angeles Times had one detail altered. The editors of the Times airbrushed out the model's belly button. They said this was done in order to "conform to regulations." More…
The Master Race. (May 8, 1943) The May 8, 1943 cover of the British illustrated magazine Parade showed an unkempt, dour-looking German soldier with the satirical caption, "Master Race." But the man wasn't actually a German soldier. The photo was actually a piece of British government propaganda. The photographer later admitted the man was "the ugliest Arab they could find in the streets of Cairo... whom they dressed up in a sort of uniform." More…
High-Pressure Hijinks. (ca. 1923) A soldier appears to be lifted in the air by the pressure from a water hose. The source of this photo is uncertain. More…
The Cottingley Fairies. (1917-1920) Two young girls used paper cutouts to create a series of images of "fairies" while playing in the garden of a Cottingley village home. Photographic experts examined the pictures and declared them genuine. Spiritualists promoted them as proof of the existence of supernatural creatures, and despite criticism by skeptics, the pictures became among the most widely recognized photos in the world. It was only decades later, in the late 1970s, that the photos were definitively debunked. More…
A Bear and its Hunters. (ca. 1900) A humorous example of a staged scene — a bear joins its hunters for a friendly group photo, somewhere in the Utah wilderness. More…
The Rope Trick. (ca. 1888) A young lady poses on a swing in a photographer's studio. Except, she isn't really on a swing. 19th-century photographers needed subjects to remain stationary to get the proper focus and exposure. So swinging back and forth was out of the question. The swing was actually a prop available from a catalog. The ropes remained rigid and were not attached to anything above. More…
Dickens in America. (December 1867) An early example of how a celebrity's appearance could be tidied up in the darkroom. The portrait of Dickens on the right was taken in 1861. But during Dickens' 1867 tour of the U.S., the Matthew Brady studio used darkroom techniques to improve the photo, producing the portrait on the left, which they sold to the public, promising that it showed "Mr. Dickens just as he is in his readings." More…
Lincoln’s Portrait. (Late 1860s) This standing portrait of Lincoln was created soon after the American Civil War. It hung in many classrooms, but Lincoln never posed for it. An unknown entrepreneur created it by cutting-and-pasting a headshot of Lincoln onto a portrait of the Southern leader John Calhoun. This was done because there were hardly any appropriate "heroic-style" portraits of Lincoln made during his life. More…
Mumler’s Spirit Photos. (1861-1879) Image created by William Mumler, 1872. "Bronson Murray in a Trance with the Spirit of Ella Bonner." Mumler created the genre of the spirit photo: ghostly images supposedly caught on film. More…
Portrait of the Photographer as a Drowned Man. (1840) Louis Daguerre was the first to patent a photographic process. But Hippolyte Bayard had independently invented a rival photographic process known as direct positive printing, and had done so as early as Daguerre, but his invention didn't earn him fame and riches. Frustrated, he created a photograph to express his feelings, showing himself pretending to be a suicide victim. More…

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