The Quick 10: 10 Altered Images


It’s all over the news this week – Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram decided to do a little Photoshopping on what should have been a rather benign picture. But it’s far from the first time a picture has been doctored for political reasons. Here are 10 of them (OK, nine – you’ll see why when you get to #10).


It was a pretty straightforward event: President Barack Obama, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and King Abdullah II of Jordan were walking down a hall to a meeting.

But when

2. If you crossed Joseph Stalin, he had you deleted. Literally. In 1920, Lenin was speaking to members of the Red Army and was accompanied by his pals Leon Trotsky and Lev Kamenev. When Stalin took power, he had his rivals obliterated from the picture (they were standing to his left on the stairs to the podium) so the public wouldn’t think Trotsky and Kamenev had Lenin’s support.

3. Mao Tse-tung did the same thing to people who fell out of favor with him. In this picture, taken in 1936, Po Ku was wiped clean out after he and Mao stopped seeing entirely eye-to-eye.

4. I guess if you were supposed to be a powerful man, you might be embarrassed that someone had to hold the horse you sat astride like you were riding a pony at a petting zoo. Mussolini was; that’s why he had the horse handler removed from this famous picture.


This case of Photoshopping did exactly the opposite of what it was trying to do. After reports surfaced that Kim Jong-il was in poor health, the photo to the left was published to show that he was clearly alive and thriving, hanging out with a unit of North Korean soldiers.

But the white riser directly behind him is suspiciously different than the riser behind everyone else in the front row.

6. If you’re trying to conceal the identity of someone in a picture, it’s usually best to use a head that doesn’t belong to a person who is standing three feet away from the person you’re trying to hide. Confused? Here’s the story – the director of Spain’s National Intelligence Center was accused of going on pricey fishing trips using taxpayer money. To counter the attack, the director himself released a picture from one of the trips in question to say, “See? I wasn’t there.” The problem? There’s only a handful of men in the picture, and one of them appears twice. See this lazy Photoshop job for yourself.

7. Even Honest Abe is subject to a bit of photo doctoring. In this famous picture of him, you’re only seeing Lincoln’s head. The body actually belonged to John Calhoun, Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.

8. During his 2004 presidential campaign, President Bush released an ad that showed a small child in the foreground, waving a little American flag. In front of him, soldiers stood stoically. In fact, some of the soldiers stood several times. It was later discovered that the original image showed Bush at a podium in front of the assemblage. When he was removed from the picture, the photo editor simply reused a section of soldiers to fill in the gap. When his campaign was called out for doctoring the image, a new photo was released.

9. To this day, we’re not totally sure why Hitler had right-hand-man Joseph Goebbels removed from this picture. We just know that the person who did his photo retouching did a terrible job.

10. OK, this one isn’t exactly historic or political, but it’s so blatant I couldn’t help but include it. That’s Oprah’s head, obviously, but the body was stolen from Ann Margaret. Worst. Photoedit. Ever.