Any amateur photographer of today knows the hardest part of taking a great photograph is the arduous process of choosing the best Instagram filter. Of course, flip through any magazine and you’ll find every photo has been digitally retouched and enhanced. Since such doctoring has become essential in today’s commercial market (and synonymous with Adobe Photoshop), it seems appropriate that the Metropolitan Museum of Art would create an exhibition highlighting the history and evolution of the practice. In the slideshow above, we selected a few of our own greatest hits of pre-Photoshop manipulation.
Opening this October, Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop displays manipulated photographs that precede the effortless digital editing programs of today. The show chronicles the inventive ways in which earlier artists reworked their photos and offers a wide range of different motivations for photographic manipulation.
Some of the works depict landscapes compiled from multiple negatives to overcome lighting limitations from fledgling cameras, while others tackle amusing subjects intending to entertain and astonish. The manipulated images also extend to news, politics, business, and entertainment. There is even a sequence of images which reveals how purged party officials are removed from historical photographs. The show reminds us that the inundation of photography in advertisements, newspaper, and museums is not an objective medium and never has been.