Is it really necesssary to remove people from photos?


d2008-24-49p01h_cropTime Magazine’s The Vanishing Art of the Family Photo Album includes a detailed description of photo albums and how they have changed over time. Several albums include mutilated photos with what would appear to be one person completely obliterated from the photo.

scan-217_cropIs this really necessary and more importantly, does this attempt to change history really help? After all, these people were present when the photos were taken and it seems that removal of the origin person draws more attention to the fact that he or she was there in the first place. Somehow, an isolated child interacting with a headless figure just doesn’t make sense, nor does a bride holding a disembodied hand.

Digital may help somewhat in that cloning can attempt to recreate the missing background. But even that doesn’t really solve the problem, and it certainly doesn’t change history.

See Is The Photo Album DEAD? for more on this story and for some tips on how to preserve digital photos.


About Mark Mizen

At Creative Memories, I evaluate photographic products and related materials so that today's memories are not lost to the future and then communicate this information to Creative Memories Consultants and their customers. My interests extend from preservation of traditional photographs to the production of photo books to the expected longevity of electronic image files. My long-term objective is to direct the development of technology that meets consumers needs for high-quality products.
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3 Responses to Is it really necesssary to remove people from photos?

  1. Gene & Lisa Beltran says:

    It may not change history but there’s a certain visceral satisfaction about removing an unwanted person from a photo.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Quite often I am asked to ‘remove’ a person from a group setting or more often asked to ‘add’ a person, that wasn’t there at the time the photo was taken but WAS part of the event… I don’t have a problem doing either, although I did when I first began working with photos. A photographer friend of mine reassured me that he made ‘Good MONEY’ doing just that for a living… giving the client what they wanted. Photography is an art form and so is digital editing… both allow for ‘creative’ manipulation of the images we have… the examples you have given are more a testament to a scrapbookers desire to ‘tell’ their story. As one who works with many people and their photos I try to find ways for them to ‘tell’ what is in their heart with out destroying the reality of their story… I am an adoptive mom, a step mom, and a biological mom… right there you can tell that I have had to deal with ex’s, non-present parents, and trying to get my biological kids to hold still in the same shot lol… History belongs to those who write it down…or in this case wield the scissors. *U* Kathleen

  3. Claire says:

    I did crop someone out of a photo for a customer once. It was done digitally, and I promise it did not look like the above. I agree that the above photos do draw attention to what was removed. Claire

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