top of page

Positions and Practice (PHO710) - After Photography

Fig.1 Hipplyte Bayard, Self Portrait of the Drowned Man, 1840

On the back of this picture, Hippolyte Bayard had written this text:

The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government, which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life…! He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you’d better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay

In modern times, this is the kind of image and text is comparable with what we see on social media. The kind of post that seeks attention or empathy. Bayard provides a great example of using photography to create a false reality.

Fig. 2 - Chris Smith, Child and the Panda, 2015

In 2015, on a family trip to Edinburgh Zoo, I took this photo of my daughter with a panda. In reality it was a photo of a panda but for some fun, I sent this to a friend who believed that we had had a close encounter with her favourite animal.

Yet another way in which all photographers at some point will use imagery to provide a false sense of reality.

Fig.3 - Chris Smith, Cutting Oranges, 2020

In 2020, I used different techniques to give the sense that my daughter was cutting oranges with a sword. As a somewhat sensible parent, I wouldn't actually allow my 10 year old to do this.

Instead, I had my daughter holding the sword still while my partner threw orange halves at the blade giving the viewer the sense that the girl herself had cut them.

After photographs have been taken, the uses often end up being taken out of the photographers hands, especially if posted onto social media.

Fig.4 - Alexander Chadwick, Tube Walkers, 2008

The terrorist attack in London on the 7th July 2005 showed how images would be picked up by the media and used to document the attack, the effects and ultimately shock the public by showing the first hand experience of the atrocities.

Le Pichon, 2020, Photography Dosen't Always Reveal the Truth, [accessed on 29.12.21] Available at:

Strieff, 2005, Transport Attacks Hit London's Pressure Point, ABC News, [accessed on 29.12.21] Available at:


bottom of page