Fauxtography Strikes Again!


In an exciting development, two of our favourite topics – photoshop trickery and North Korea – have made it into the one news story! Apparently North Korea’s official news agency has been making mischief again, this time retouching battleships into a military exercise to give the impression that they’re badder than they really are. This is in contrast to the usual purpose of photoshop – which is generally employed to make people look better than they really are.

In celebration of Kim Jong-un’s clumsy clone-tool antics, we thought we’d compile a list of our other favourite photo fakes. Indeed, while North Korea’s recent retouch is a long way from the dizzying heights of women’s-interest-magazines and the big bad world of celebrity skin tones, it does demonstrate progress from the original “Political Fauxtography” days of Stalinist Russia.

Spot the difference with these images which have tried to re-write history…


Trotsky who?

Sometimes killing people or sending them to Siberia just isn’t enough. Stalin was one of the early pioneers of removing people he no longer liked from images – a technique which has regained popularity recently on dating sites…where the ‘crop’ and ‘airbrush’ tools are often used to remove a former partner, a creepy relative or a better-looking-best-friend from images.

Goebbels be gone:

Who wants a nice day out in the garden with Adolf to be ruined by Goebbels?

Horse handlers are for pansies:

Rounding out the three bad boys of World War II, Mussolini didn’t want to give the impression that he needed someone to hold his horse while he acted heroic.

Tea cups are also for pansies:

Pakistan’s ‘Press Information Department’ obviously determined it is more appealing to be standing with your fingers pointing together awkwardly than to be talking to your generals whilst drinking a cup of tea. Oh so natural.

Two women too many:

In a cabinet of 32 ministers, you would have thought that the problem would have been that there were only two women. Apparently not, with Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver being retouched out of Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet team by the Israeli newspaper Yated Neeman…

Affirmative action at the University of Wisconsin:

Why bother giving actual places to african-american students when you can just retouch one in?

Weekend at Kim Jong Il’s:

More trickery from North Korea, where Kim Jong Il’s keepers seemed to take the ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ approach to his last few months. While there were many highlights, this image in particular attracted attention for its poor attention to detail with lighting and its lack of background consistency. Perhaps if they lifted some of their internet censorship, their retouchers may have access to some more sophisticated photoshop tutorials online…

Like all good news bulletins, we’ll round it out with a feel-good cat story:

After all, who could forget Snowball – one of the pioneering viral images of the early 2000s. This monster cat featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Good Morning America before his owner came forward to explain that he’d made the image of the cat as a joke to send to friends. Nonetheless, the picture did make the owner – Cordell Hauglie – a cult celebrity in the cat community, and he now appears at cat shows as a ‘celebrity guest’.

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