Truth in photography: How I learned to stop worrying and press the shutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Since the nineteenth century, photography has often been heralded as the only medium capable of capturing an "objective truth," chronicling both everyday life and crucial turning points in human history, ongoing to this day. The rise of digital technologies and accessible photo-manipulation has thrown this reality into question. Yet those familiar with photographic history are acutely aware that photography's relationship with truth has always been precarious at best. Despite this knowledge, and in the face of countless scams, scandals, and social media, many people are still inclined to accept the billions of images uploaded to the web each year at face value; they rarely question the photographs' motives, creators, or impact. This article explores a multifaceted and pluralistic overview of photography that illuminates the ways in which we approach the notion of photographic truth in contemporary society. Copyright © 2017 Common Ground Research Networks, Scott R. McMaster. All Rights Reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-98
JournalThe International Journal of the Image
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017



McMaster, S. R. (2017). Truth in photography: How I learned to stop worrying and press the shutter. The International Journal of the Image, 8(2), 77-98.


  • Objective medium
  • Oscar rejlander
  • Photo manipulation
  • Photographic history
  • Truth
  • Analogue vs. digital