Philip Davali and Ólafur Steinar Gestsson, two photographers from the Danish photo news agency Ritzau Scanpix, worked on a project to demonstrate to people that manipulating imagines and reality can be very easy, and it is done to us daily.

In recent years, the dissemination of fake news has become a hot topic. It has been shown many times that any article or photograph can be manipulated to alter the viewpoint.

Ritzau Scanpix commissioned the project to alert people to the dangers of fake news and images circulating in Danish media.

You are probably aware that truth is subjective. Depending on how much and what exactly we know, our understanding will shift in a split second.

However, two Danish photographers have elevated the idea to new heights.

They used a wide-angle and telephoto lens to photograph groups of people to show how the same scene can look completely different.

 Gestsson and Davali, two Copenhagen-based photographers, went out on the street and photographed people queuing outside stores while respecting social distance measures.

Using different perspectives, the queue quickly turned into a crowd, and it looked like people were forming illegal crowds in times of the COVID pandemic.

Holding a healthy distance is critical in this pandemic, even if countries begin to relax quarantine limits. But how can we tell if people are doing the right thing just by looking at photos?

The photographs reveal a startling disparity in the gap between these individuals, forcing us to reconsider our assumptions. 

The wide-angle is the same as the way our eyes see.

Gestsson explained to a local Danish website: “It takes wider pictures, and as a photographer, you use it when you are close to what you need to photograph.” Similar types of cameras are built into our iPhones.

The telephoto lens is a long lens used to photograph news conferences, sporting events, and other situations where the subject is far away. “It gets closer to what you are photographing, and in a way, it pulls the subject together,” he said.

A telephoto lens can make objects appear closer together than they are, in fact, as many photographers know, but the general public does not.

Ólafur told TV2 that viewers should be conscious of the lens and gear photographers used to take a precise picture. “If there was a description in the caption of how the image was taken, the editor would have the freedom to choose.” According to him, photographers “must always keep in mind how we do our job, especially in times of the corona crisis.”

Kristian Djurhuus, the editorial manager at Ritzau Scanpix, told Bored Panda: “The proximity of people has widely been debated in Denmark in the past weeks. Danish politicians and authorities have frequently referred to images which they believed to show members of the public behaving in disagreement with the general guidelines.”

As a national picture news agency covering the coronavirus pandemic, we have visual coverage. “we became aware that our contribution could be misread,” said Djurhuus. 

Simple technical facts such as angle and perspective have taken on new significance in this special and crucial situation. “The technical choices have never been a debatable issue in the history of photography,” Djurhuus explained.

He added:

“This is not an issue of right lenses versus wrong lenses. The effect that we show could also easily have been achieved using the same lens working with different angles or perspectives. But these times have made it obvious that we somehow need to make users and readers of images aware of something that only photographers used to care about.

“Our images featured here is one attempt at this. Another initiative is that we clarify circumstances in the accompanying captions of the images if they could be misread and thereby unconsciously misused,” said Djurhuus.


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