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Instagram: Amelia Liana and altered reality

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It is naive of us to rely on photographs for factual information, especially a photograph on a platform like Instagram.

Everything we post to Instagram is altered reality, whether it’s something simple, a cup of coffee, or, as Amelia Liana is alleged to have done, something more extravagant, such as a photo-shopped backdrop. The concept is the same: photographers trade in ideas.

Several recent news articles suggest Liana heavily manipulates her travel photographs. People are asking:

  • Is she a photographer/artist if she’s using stock photos?
  • Is she deceiving people?
  • Is she dishonest?

Photo manipulation has been around since the 1800s – long before digital technology and social media. Whether it was a double exposure, combined prints, or photomontage, these processes significantly changed the camera image, the context, and the meaning. The outcome, whatever the process, is still photographic.

Hannah Hoch, for instance, made photo-montages using found photographs and a cut-and-paste method. Her images made comments on social issues, particularly feminism. She is considered an artist.

Granted, Hoch’s work is seen as more meaningful than Liana’s, but the process is essentially the same. A lot of people are suggesting Liana is not an artist or even a photographer. Liana is still a photographer and whether her images include stock photos or not, the finished photograph is hers.

How we choose to present our imagery is up to us. Equally, how we as viewers choose to interpret other people’s imagery is also our responsibility.

Photography, for the most part, is not objective. Some might argue that there are exceptions, like forensic photography. But when we share our photographs, we’re inviting people to become part of the reality we’ve created. Is that not the same for Liana?

If I stop reading a book or drinking a coffee so I can take a picture of myself reading a book or drinking a coffee, does that make that picture disingenuous?

I’m pretending to read. I’ve created a reality based on an idea. Is that wrong? No. It’s my prerogative as a photographer. I can make any type of image I want. I don’t expect that everybody will buy into that idea. Photography is subjective.

Maybe Liana’s idea of a perfect travel photograph is the type of photograph she makes and shares. We don’t all have to buy into her ideas either. But 453,000 people do.

I’m not saying everybody should start photo-shopping exotic backdrops into their images and pretend to be somewhere they aren’t. But it’s Liana’s choice to represent herself the way she does. It’s up to her if she’d like to include stock images in her photography. It’s up to her if she wants to create her own altered reality.

It’s good to ask questions, especially about photography. But there’s a difference between debate and attack.

Instagram is a free platform. It offers us the freedom to express ourselves visually. It is Liana’s right to photograph, create and share whatever she likes. And it is more harmful to be hurtful towards somebody than it is for a person to create an altered reality.

What’s everybody’s thoughts on this subject? Do you agree? If not, why? Stick your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

 

7 thoughts on “Instagram: Amelia Liana and altered reality”

  1. I think you’re absolutely right. I’ve missed this malarkey but I’ve always had a bit of an annoyance towards people demanding “reality” on Instagram. So so many people have found their creative calling through Instagram and it gives people a way of choosing how they’re creative; whether that’s digital manipulation or no filters/editing.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said! I feel so sorry for her that she’s been attacked in this way! This post really puts to bed to awful things they’ve said. Sx

  3. Hi Carolyn,

    By the way, love your work!. This is an interesting debate and has been going on for generations, photoshopping models etc. You are right in regards to the fact that it is Amelia’s Instagram account and she can choose to portray herself / her work anyway she wants, it is her account. No one would want to have anyone tell them how to produce and display their work. However, the pain point of what Amelia has allegedly done was to deceive people, and that is not acceptable. I’m not so bothered by the tidying of shots, or editing in of birds, or photoshopping out power lines or scaffolding, but if she superimposed herself in pictures to make us believe she was in front of the Eiffel Tower, and she actually wasn’t, than that is deceiving, she’sTravel Blogger. It’s all about Full disclosure, had she mentioned that she was superimposed than we appreciate the picture for what it is worth.

  4. The moral high ground continues to be overly populated on the internet and social media platforms such as Instagram. The vitriol towards successful artists when a story ‘breaks’ could speak also to the frustration many people may feel if they are striving (authentically) to make a name for themselves in the same arena.

    That said, art is whatever we perceive it to be and no-one can call another person out for their version of their art. However, the rub here is that false statements were made about the authenticity of location, et al. Even forgetting the chattering classes for a moment, brands may have relied on that information and, probably, influenced a buying market based on that deception.

    Again, however, treating another human being as less than is never acceptable or humane. We are all fallible.

  5. Love your feed, and account, first of all. I feel like in this case it’s similar to watching a documentary as opposed to a movie “inspired by such and such event” Most of Instagram seems to be approached as a documentary of sorts with the editing that makes the story coherent and maybe a bit more visually engaging, but the audience takes it as a symbolic documentary of the blogger’s life or interests. This is generally why ads are tagged or made obvious, it’s clearly staged, but not necessarily at odds with the way we process the images on that person’s feed and we are given ample warning to shift perception. Here however, the audience assumes that this is a documentary, and not strictly a performance piece. Neither one is bad necessarily, but it is understandable how someone, used to processing a “documentary” may feel deceived to learn that most of the locations and “plot” let’s say(?) is fictitious or merely “inspired by.” Anyway long post, apologies, but i feel like this is more about what an audiences is prepared to perceive, and how that affects their engagement rather than artistic viability.

  6. Whilst attacking others is never good I do feel that if you use Instagram or other platforms to pursue a career then unfortunately you might have to ‘toughen up ‘ as haters are always going to be around-these people would be too scared to say these things to someone’s face but get ‘brave’ when over the Internet. I do feel that the images being created on Insta are worrying in that very young – as a teacher I know of 11 year olds on Insta -people don’t realise the manipulation being used and think that life should be like those they follow -we need more openness re freebies, sponsored travel and honesty re images -especially of body -being altered. We should also be letting young people know that their careers bay be in this field and that it can be a very positive place -if you can stand the negativity -personally I don’t know how she copes with all the lewd comments on her live stories -that would finish me!

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