Mar 13, 2024

“Photography Lost Its Innocence Many Years Ago”: Hany Farid Opines As 19th-Century Portrait of Abe Lincoln Is Revealed To Be a Fake

From BBC

How a 19th-Century portrait of Abraham Lincoln was later revealed to be a fake

By Fiona Macdonald

While the manipulation of images is increasingly causing concern in an era of deepfakes, it’s been happening for centuries – even one of the most iconic photos of Abraham Lincoln was doctored.

In an era of deepfakes and AI-generated imagery, the manipulation of photos is increasingly causing concern. But as Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who specialises in the analysis of digital images, has written, “We may have the impression that photography can no longer be trusted. From the tabloid magazines to the fashion industry, mainstream media outlets, political campaigns, and the photo hoaxes that land in our email in-boxes, doctored photographs are appearing with a growing frequency and sophistication. The truth is, however, that photography lost its innocence many years ago.”

Arguably, photographers have played around with depictions of ‘reality’ since the birth of the technology, with many of the earliest pioneers also painters, drawing on both science and art in their images. Yet the photographic portrait has long been seen as one of the most accurate ways of capturing someone’s true likeness...


Hany Farid is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences and the School of Information at UC Berkeley. He specializes in digital forensics.

Last updated:

March 18, 2024