Pictures Almost Never Lie

Pictures say a thousand words, or so the saying goes. And pictures never lie. News stories on television and the Internet are not complete without an image and personal profiles seem empty without a selfie. People trust a picture. But should they?

You can get a better understanding of how editors and website managers pick images by performing a simple experiment.

Take out your phone and turn on the camera. Set it to record a selfie video. Then take a moment, prepare, suck in a breath and record yourself singing the national anthem.

Put your heart into it. Sing with strength and feeling. Then save the video and take a bow.

Now sit down. Pick an emotion: anger, love, envy, shock, happiness, sadness. With the emotion you decided on in mind, watch the video. When you see an image of yourself that matches the emotion you picked, pause the video.

If you were making a post on your social media page about your emotion, you could use that picture to show how you felt. But you know that the picture is simply one note sung from the national anthem.

Again, thinking about your social media page, go through the video, imagining which screen capture you would use as a profile picture. Some images show you with your eyes half-closed. Some show you with your mouth open like a fish.

If you were being mean to yourself, you would post the pictures that make you look like you just woke up.

That happens every day in editorial offices. Public figures like your favorite singers, movie stars and government officials are always being photographed or caught on video.

If an editor wants to show that singer, star or official looking funny or heroic or attractive or strange, all he or she has to do—is pick the right picture.

Like you singing the national anthem, every person in the public eye can be seen with eyes half-closed or looking angry or strange.

Some editors use photo shopping software to make people appear the way the editors want them to look.

Editors of fashion and celebrity magazines are notorious for changing faces, slimming down figures or smoothing rough spots on the celebrities they like.

There are many famous people you probably wouldn’t know if you met them on the street because all of the pictures you’ve seen of them have been changed.

Pictures never lie? Maybe the photographs don’t lie, but sometimes the people who pick the photos do.

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